At Silverstone on 7 March 2018 we officially started the construction programme for The Silverstone Experience, with a Ground Breaking Ceremony. Our Royal Patron, Prince Harry, was in attendance to see how the project will encourage the engagement of young people, and in particular the next generation of engineers, with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). The format of the day therefore began at the Silverstone University Technical College (UTC) and presentations were made by Stuart Pringle, Managing Director Silverstone Circuit; Sally Reynolds, CEO The Silverstone Experience, and Ross Brawn Managing Director of Motorsports at Formula 1. Prince Harry then met students and teachers at the UTC.
His Royal Highness then officially started the construction phase with a ceremony in the empty Hangar building which will be converted over the next year to house The Silverstone Experience archive, heritage and museum displays. Lunch was then served in the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) clubhouse.
Silverstone ‘Home of British Motor Sport’
The Silverstone site is vast in scope and has a deep history and heritage. Archaeological research suggests Mesolithic, Neolithic and Early Bronze Age artefacts and cultural geography. Late Iron Age/Early Romano-British pottery has been excavated within the circuit. The site is also in close proximity to the Roman Road between Towcester and Alcester. Luffield Priory, associated medieval remains and other Early Modern links are also suggestive. However, although some of this longer history is evident in the names of key parts of the circuit, The Silverstone Experience (TSE) will ensure that the heritage of Silverstone and British motor racing, particularly after 1945, is interpreted for a wider public, as well as being protected for future generations. Luffield Abbey Farm, attached to Stowe, appears to have been a small farm managed by tenant farmers up until the site was requisitioned by the Air Ministry at the start of the Second World War. The airfield was closed in 1946, and in 1948 was converted into a motor racing circuit, initially utilising the runways and perimeter track. Since 1948 the circuit has been continuously operational. The permanent exhibition will celebrate the history of the circuit and the country’s position at the very heart of the global motor sport industry. The UK has a central role in technological innovation and leadership within global motorsport.
A Historic Race Track
The farm buildings, though altered and extended, form the core of the heritage area of the site and currently house the BRDC archive (known as the BRDC Farmhouse). In 1950 the World Drivers Championship was created and the very first World Championship event was held at Silverstone. Since then, the circuit has played host to the British Grand Prix – the country’s largest single sporting event – a record number of sixty-eight times. Between 1955 and 1962 the British Grand Prix alternated between Silverstone and Aintree. The even-numbered years were at Silverstone and the odd numbered and 1962 were at Aintree. Between 1963 and 1986 the race alternated between Silverstone and Brands Hatch. From 1987, and more radically in 1991, a series of modifications modernised the Silverstone circuit. Throughout its history, Silverstone has been closely linked to British motor racing and the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC), founded in 1928, oversee the circuit and its history.
Historic personalities have always been evident at the circuit, be they volunteers, behind the scenes enthusiasts or racing motorists. Oral histories are capturing some of these key mmeories. Silverstone has hosted the most important personalities in world motorsport since the Second World War, including iconic Formula One drivers; Juan Manuel Fangio; Jackie Stewart; James Hunt; Alain Prost; Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. Touring Car legends have included Jack Sears; Gerry Marshall, and John Cleland. Motorbike racing has had a strong history at Silverstone, notably Barry Sheene in the 1970s and more recently Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marques. Can these heroes inspire the next generation? The Silverstone Experience certainly aims to do so, through promoting wider knowledge of heritage and history in diverse and dynamic ways that particularly engage young people in STEM subjects, even if they do not become racing drivers!
Rediscovering the heritage of the world’s oldest football league club: Notts County Football Club and Notts County Football in the Community
jjheritage is pleased to be working with Notts County Football in the Community in rediscovering the heritage of the world’s oldest football league club, formed in 1862. The Heritage Lottery Funded scoping project is due to be completed in April 2018 and will explore options for protecting and promoting the club’s history.
So, how did this history begin?
The club’s website refers to a local newspaper report which is quoted as saying: ‘The opening of the Nottingham Football Club commenced on Tuesday last at Cremorne Gardens. A side was chosen by W. Arkwright and Chas. Deakin. A very spirited game resulted in the latter scoring two goals and two rouges against one.' The Nottingham Guardian 28 November 1862.
This rather unusual report of the outcome of the match, two goals and two rouges, reflected that The Football Association was not formed until 1863, and the rules between football’s handling codes, such as rugby, and kicking codes could often be composite in the same game. Another thing that could change was club colours and shirts. Originally playing in amber and black hooped shirts, then chocolate and blue half patterns, in 1890 these were replaced by the now familiar black and white striped shirts, said to have inspired Juventus to change from their original pink colours.
The club was one of the original founders of The Football League in 1888, after professional football was acknowledged as inevitable by the Football Association in 1885. Notts County Football Club then reached its highest finish in The Football League during the 1890-1 season, and repeated the feat ten years later. Silverware would be more forthcoming from the FA Cup. After finishing runners up in this competition in 1891, Notts then took home the trophy in 1894.
In 1910 the club moved from Trent Bridge (where they had been tenants of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club) to their present home at Meadow Lane. The ground itself had a varied history, as it was bombed during World War Two, flooded in 1947 and, much later totally rebuilt between 1992 and 1994. More happily, it also hosted a number of festive events including a rock concert featuring Pink Floyd in 1968. Meadow Lane was also used by Nottingham Forest in 1968 after a fire had partially destroyed their main stand.
A landmark decision to sign the great Tommy Lawton from Chelsea for a record-breaking £20,000 saw large crowds and the Third Division (South) title in 1949-50. Since then, County had revived fortunes as a top flight club with manager Jimmy Sirrel in 1981-84 and under Neil Warnock in 1991/2. The club has subsequently survived relegation and promotion with equanimity, and the most recent financial problems were ultimately avoided when the present owner Alan Hardy took over in 2017. His appointment of Kevin Nolan as manager has also led to an upturn in fortunes on the pitch. More on the club history can be found here.
Three Words To Describe Your Club
In July 2017, the BBC reported a study of the three most popular words used to describe Premier League Football Clubs. The results are here with Leicester City FC, for example, described as ‘anomaly’ ‘impossible’ and ‘easiest’, which given their previous season was intriguing.
Building on this, Notts County Football in the Community conducted a ‘three words about Notts’ exercise in the context of examining the heritage, and respondents stressed the importance of ‘History’ and ‘Community’. This provided a basis for working with stakeholders to explore these themes.
As we all know, fans of football are often ardent historians of their club and there is a huge amount of expertise here. The project’s Reference Group, comprised of both local historians with a specialism in the city of Nottingham and Notts County FC, had been asked to think about other sporting and heritage venues that they have visited and liked. This fits with the longer term plans to assess and celebrate the heritage of Notts County. The project has asked: what would a heritage programme look like, and would other resources would be needed? Since the Notts County Supporters Trust was key in saving the club between 2006 and 2009, and the Football in the Community arm is vibrant and expanding, it reflects the club’s history to have diverse and inclusive voices in the formation of recommendations for a potential heritage programme.
With the club’s current focus on re-engaging the local community and a strapline that proclaims ‘An unrivalled history. An incredible future’, now seems a timely and topical opportunity to begin to reflect upon the history and heritage Notts County FC.
Posts written by Jean or Joanna.