Thomson & Taylor

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Thomson & Taylor were a motor-racing engineering and car-building firm, based within the Brooklands race track. They were active between the wars and built several of the famous land speed record breaking cars of the day.

Brooklands race track

Brooklands was a 2.75-mile (4.43 km) motor racing circuit and aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey, England, United Kingdom. It opened in 1907 and was the world's first purpose-built motor racing circuit as well as one of Britain's first airfields, which also became Britain's largest aircraft manufacturing centre by 1918, producing military aircraft such as the Wellington and civil airliners like the Viscount and VC-10.

Land speed record the highest speed achieved by a person using a vehicle on land

The land speed record is the highest speed achieved by a person using a vehicle on land. There is no single body for validation and regulation; in practice the Category C flying start regulations are used, officiated by regional or national organizations under the auspices of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. The land speed record (LSR) is standardized as the speed over a course of fixed length, averaged over two runs. Two runs are required in opposite directions within one hour, and a new record mark must exceed the previous one by at least one percent to be validated.


Thomas Inventions Development Co. Ltd.

The firm was founded as Thomas Inventions Development Co. Ltd. by J. G. Parry-Thomas & Major Ken Thomson. [1] Their workshops were based in the 'flying village' inside the circuit at Brooklands, a convenient location for their customers, who raced there. Parry-Thomas lived in an adjacent former Royal Flying Corps building named The Hermitage.

J. G. Parry-Thomas Motor-racing driver from Wales

John Godfrey Parry-Thomas was a Welsh engineer and motor-racing driver who at one time held the land speed record. He was the first driver to be killed in pursuit of the land speed record.

Thomson & Taylor

After Parry-Thomas' death whilst driving Babs at Pendine Sands in 1927, Major Ken Thomson carried on, joined by Ken Taylor, under the new name of Thomson & Taylor. [1] Reid Railton, who had previously worked for Parry-Thomas at Leyland joined them as Technical Director and chief designer.

Pendine Sands beach in Carmarthenshire, Wales

Pendine Sands is 7 miles (11 km) of beach on the shores of Carmarthen Bay on the south coast of Wales. It stretches west to east from Gilman Point to Laugharne Sands. The village of Pendine is close to the western end of Pendine Sands.

Reid Railton British car designer

Reid A. Railton (1895–1977) was a British automotive engineer, and designer of land and water speed record vehicles.

Leyland Motors Limited was a British vehicle manufacturer of lorries, buses and trolleybuses. The company diversified into car manufacturing with its acquisitions of Triumph and Rover in 1960 and 1967, respectively. It gave its name to the British Leyland Motor Corporation, formed when it merged with British Motor Holdings in 1968, to become British Leyland after being nationalised. British Leyland later changed its name to simply BL, then in 1986 to Rover Group.

Campbell Shed, pale blue, centre Brooklands sheds.jpg
Campbell Shed, pale blue, centre
Malcolm Campbell's
Blue Bird Sir Malcolm Campbell at the wheel of the "Bluebird", with crowd, 1926 - 1936.jpg
Malcolm Campbell's
Blue Bird

In 1926 Malcolm Campbell had opened the 'Campbell Shed' at Brooklands, trading in racing sports cars. As the name suggests, this was a simply constructed wooden shed but it grew bigger and bigger, even being used to hold a barn dance in 1931. [1] The famously impetuous Campbell lost interest though and handed it over to Thomson & Taylor. The shed survives today as part of the Brooklands Museum. [2]

Malcolm Campbell English racecar driver and speed record holder

Major Sir Malcolm Campbell was a British racing motorist and motoring journalist. He gained the world speed record on land and on water at various times during the 1920s and 1930s using vehicles called Blue Bird, including a 1921 Grand Prix Sunbeam. His son, Donald Campbell, carried on the family tradition by holding both land speed and water speed records.

Brooklands Museum Aviation museum, Motor museum in Weybridge, Surrey

The Brooklands Museum is an air museum in Weybridge, Surrey, England, operated by the independent Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd as a charitable trust and a private limited company incorporated on 12 March 1987; its aim is to conserve, protect and interpret the unique heritage of the Brooklands site.

Notable cars

Campbell-Napier-Railton Blue Bird

The Campbell-Napier-Railton Blue Bird was a land speed record car driven by Malcolm Campbell.


The Napier-Railton is an aero-engined race car built in 1933, designed by Reid Railton to a commission by John Cobb, and built by Thomson & Taylor. It was driven by Cobb, mainly at the Brooklands race track where it holds the all-time lap record which was set in 1935. This stands in perpetuity as the circuit was appropriated for military purposes during the Second World War and was never used as a racing track again.

Campbell-Railton Blue Bird

The Campbell-Railton Blue Bird was Sir Malcolm Campbell's final land speed record car.

English Racing Automobiles automobile manufacturer

English Racing Automobiles (ERA) was a British racing car manufacturer active from 1933 to 1954.

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Arab (automobile) English automobile

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Invicta (car) British automobile manufacturer

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Sunbeam 350HP

The Sunbeam 350HP is an aero-engined car built by the Sunbeam company in 1920, the first of several land speed record-breaking cars with aircraft engines.

Walter Thomas Frederick "Wally" Hassan OBE, C.Eng., M.I. Mech.E. was a distinguished UK automotive engineer who took part in the design and development of three very successful engines: Jaguar XK, Coventry Climax and Jaguar V12, as well as the ERA racing car.

Leyland Eight car model

The Leyland Eight was a luxury car produced by Leyland Motors from 1920 to 1923.

George Eyston British racing driver

Captain George Edward Thomas Eyston MC OBE was a British racing driver in the 1920s and 1930s, and he broke the land speed record three times between 1937 and 1939. He was also an engineer and inventor.

Napier-Campbell Blue Bird

The Napier-Campbell Blue Bird was a land speed record car driven by Malcolm Campbell. Its designer was C. Amherst Villiers and Campbell's regular mechanic Leo Villa supervised its construction.

Speed of the Wind

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Bentley Blower No.1

Bentley Blower No.1 is a racing car developed from the Bentley 4½ Litre by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin to win the Le Mans twenty-four-hour race. The car was developed into its current form for racing at Brooklands.

Jarvis of Wimbledon

Jarvis & Sons Limited were South London-based motor dealers for Morris and MG, and latterly coachworks providing special bodies for various car chassis until after World War II.

Aero-engined car

An aero-engined car is an automobile powered by an engine designed for aircraft use. Most such cars have been built for racing, and many have attempted to set world land speed records. While the practice of fitting cars with aircraft engines predates World War I by a few years, it was most popular in the interwar period between the world wars when military-surplus aircraft engines were readily available and used to power numerous high-performance racing cars. Initially powered by piston aircraft engines, a number of post-World War II aero-engined cars have been powered by aviation turbine and jet engines instead. Piston-engined, turbine-engined, and jet-engined cars have all set world land speed records. There have also been some non-racing automotive applications for aircraft engines, including production vehicles such as the Tucker 48 and prototypes such as the Chrysler Turbine Car, Fiat Turbina, and General Motors Firebirds. In the late 20th century and into the 21st century, there has also been a revival of interest in piston-powered aero-engined racing cars.



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Charles Jennings (2005). The Fast Set. Abacus. ISBN   0-349-11596-6.
  2. "Brooklands Museum".
  3. "Engine and chassis of 1935 Bluebird in the workshops". Brooklands photo archive.[ permanent dead link ]
  4. "ERA R1A sale" (PDF). Bonhams. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2011.
  5. "Iconic ERA for sale at Bonhams, 2008". Classic Cars magazine.[ permanent dead link ]
  6. "Brooklands, Advert banner for Thomson & Taylor". Brooklands photo archive.[ permanent dead link ]