£9.1 million grant will see a new museum built at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix.
The only surviving Second World War hanger on site – a remnant from the circuit’s time as a wartime airfield – will be transformed into an interactive museum charting Silverstone’s past, present and future, and renamed the Silverstone Heritage Experience.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the finished venue will open in 2019; racing legends Sir Stirling Moss, Derek Warwick and Nigel Mansell CBE attended the launch ceremony as museum patrons.
Sir Peter Luff, chair of HLF, said: “Silverstone is a place where so many legends of British motor racing have their roots. The speed and the glamour, though, are only part of the success of British motorsport since the late ‘Forties. Thanks to National Lottery players, more of the stories in this exciting heritage can now be told; stories of drivers and sporting glory, yes, but also of the extraordinary creativity of British engineering and of all the people behind the scenes who, quite literally, have kept the show on the road.”
He added: “When completed, this project will help visitors, many of whom will know little about these aspects of Silverstone’s heritage, to understand much more about the context and importance of this internationally renowned racing circuit.”
It’s estimated the Silverstone Heritage Experience will attract around half a million visitors a year. Offering a permanent historical exhibition, displays will chart the career of Silverstone from its occupation by medieval monks, via the role it played as an Royal Air Force facility, through to its present day hosting of the British Grand Prix. Former air crew, engineers, marshals and drivers have taken part in the project, recounting their life and times at Silverstone.
Themed tours will also take guests around key areas of the circuit, helping to relive the track’s pivotal moments. The Heritage Experience will also look after the collected archives of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), freehold owner of Silverstone since 1971. The BRDC’s collection will also feature a specialist library and learning space for school groups.
News of the Heritage Experience comes after Jaguar Land Rover decided not to buy the circuit earlier this year: Had it been successful, insiders suggested JLR’s own Heritage collection would have put down roots at Silverstone.
A Silverstone spokesperson concluded: ‘The Silverstone Heritage Experience will ensure that the heritage of Silverstone and British motor racing is explained and interpreted for today’s public as well as being protected for future generations. It will celebrate the circuit and the country’s position at the very heart of the global motorsport industry by explaining their historic and continuing importance to the sport.’