London and Lotus: The Epicentre of Post War British Motor Racing

London and Lotus: The Epicentre of Post War British Motor Racing [and the economic case for locating the proposed CCM&EC here]


This article is written to highlight two interrelating subjects simultaneously. They relate to the mutuality that exists between Lotus and London as the epicenter of post war British motorsport.

This article is written also to articulate the case for a museum devoted to Colin Chapman preferably based on the old Lotus works site in Hornsey.Based upon the fact that it was here that Chapman really helped establish and eventually near dominate international motor racing and that London has along and proud reputation in engineering that contributed to his success.

In this discussion we set out many of the cultural and related institutions of London that make it an international tourist magnet

The proposed CCM&EC is a natural ally contributing significantly to the experience economy and easily integrated and complementary to the cultural/ entertainment package that London has to offer.


Here it’s not felt necessary to provide a detailed evolution of the city but a broad appreciation helps understand context and particularly London’s connection with motorsport .London particularly in the 20th /21st century is and has  been:-

v  Capital of the nation and on occasions the empire ,colonies and Commonwealth

v  The seat of Royalty, tradition , heraldry and ceremony

v  The seat of law, government and administration

v  Centre for trade, banking, finance, investment, insurance etc.

These activities attract in turn a population who tend to generate a sub supporting culture that includes:-

v  Education particularly universities

v  Professional bodies and institutions

v  Social clubs

v  Arts, culture, theatre, galleries museums, ballet, opera cinema etc.

v  Café, bars, restaurants hotels

v  Centre of publishing, communications, TV and the press.

v  Design, Retail, fashion and shopping

v  Markets

v  Transport for goods and services , raw materials and workers which interconnect and permit the conduct of multiple transactions between the parties

v  All the functions mentioned above whatever their source have produced unique architecture and a distinctive townscape which has evolved to adapt to changing needs, circumstances and events.

In the process cities tend to become self-generating economic dynamos that and exercising a magnet pull and multiplier effect because of the interaction between choices, opportunities, culture and employment. These factors obviously produce a working population with various levels of disposable income

Thus London became the intoxicating cosmopolitan cocktail of culture and enterprise. This cannot happen without some conflict as often the interests and needs can be in competition. Equally technology and manufacturing does not stand still and a cities magnet can wane and points can be reached where congestion, investment lag and other negative economic forces can begin to provoke reverse reactions. This is perhaps certainly true of London and the fact must be recognized. This allows constructive and positive sustainable policies to be pursued to rebalance. These[j1]  should play to strengths like the creative industries and design.

All the factors we have recorded also create the magnet of tourism.Tourism is a complex subject and mixture of factors that we ought to endeavor to understand. Increasingly it has a massive economic role too. It comprises elements of:-

Human psychology and curiosity and a sense of adventure or pilgrimage

Individuals have choice of destination and sense of satisfaction and value for money

Cities like London enjoy the privilege of concentrated resources at the tourist’s disposal. Meaning that an entire family’s needs might be meet under one umbrella

London being a 24 hour city means that a tourist can be stimulated and provided for and this contributes to satisfaction and value for money

The established cultural institutions and museums have some unique exhibits

Since our weather cannot be guaranteed the museums, galleries and shopping provide daytime indoor activity as required and the theatres, nightlife, restaurants etc.  ensure full coverage

Tourism cannot function without accommodation transport, translation and a feeling of being welcome and an ease of getting to and from destinations .proximity also helps.

As the world becomes smaller, the internet changes and brings facilities to people rather than they travel, then tourism has to adapt and other factors can influence decisions. These can include feelings of safety, disability access, transport connections ,quality and costs of accommodation /transport and a host of subtle considerations not present in the past

People become more educated and have greater income whilst expectations tend to increase. As tourism is just as much a market there is also increased competition to attract and retain visitors

The evidence is that there is increased demand for the experience economy. This is simply a higher level mixture of learning , entertainment with participation , direct experience , empathy or acquaintance / persuasion, stimulation ,enquirey,deduction ,exploration and greater intellectual satisfaction .It particularly applies to those for whom a holiday is justified in its learning skill acquisition  and how this might be represent personal self-investment


The 20c /21st witnessed the exceptional growth in motor transport. There were particular concentrations in cities like London with huge populations and cargo traffic to move. Transport obviously required a skilled engineering base. The mechanical transport that London possessed during the 20c /21st included:-

  • Trams
  • Trollies
  • Buses
  • Trains
  • Underground tubes
  • Aircraft and aerodromes

These are essentially public transport to which we can add the private vehicles comprising:-

  • Cars
  • Lorries
  • Coaches
  • Vans
  • Taxis

London enjoyed what might be considered a beneficial multiplier effect especially during the 1930’s that was created as result of the interrelationship of suburban home ownership [Metroland] the jobs this created and the employment generator in the Tube network .The two were symbiotic. These tendency created further employment especially in the electricity industry, distributive trades and consumer goods.

Although there was considerable disparity of wealth and poverty in the 1930’s London and the South East enjoyed perhaps greater disposable income. Those in fixed employment were able to obtain mortgages and perhaps also credit which possibly accounts along with the location of new homes the growth in private car ownership.

Of course the humble Austin Seven and Ford Popular would be inexpensive family cars and later be the basis of the racing specials and indeed Lotus models in the late 1940s and 50’s.

The increase in motoring created new skills, and employment.

During the 1930’s new main arteries were driven out of London on a western axis and these included:-

  • Western Avenue [home to Vandervelle Bearings/ Vanwall  and Park Royal – see both illustration of Park Royal Underground Station, and A&R articles dedicated to Chapman,costin and Vanwall. Also make reference to appendix below.
  • Great West Road ,Brentford comprised many motor related component manufacturers


These statistics were taken from the sources given in references.

Applying to the UK:-

150,000 licensed motor vehicles in 1910

650,000    ditto                                   1920

1.5m                                                    1930

3m                                                       c1939

5.5m                                                    1960

13.5m                          projected         1975

We use figures that cover the primary Chapman era whilst based in and around London.

As London was the capital city and possessed largest population and traffic movements it might be assumed that a large proportion of the figures applied to London.

It is suggested that between the 1920’s private car ownership increased from 300,000 to almost 2m by 1938.


Essentially during the period under consideration London had two race tracks .These were:-

  • Brooklands
  • CrystalPalace


London has essentially two transport museums. These are:-

  • The LondonTransportMuseum with a primary focus on Public Transport
  • The BrooklandsMuseum which is located at the old race track and has focus on pre-war racing and the aviation industry that was based on the site.

It’s considered that neither promote the role of London in motor sport post war as their primary priority/ focus nor serve to interpret the wider role of specialist engineering that contributed so much.

Although the much of the post war motor sport engineering has relocated to a corridor along the M1 and centred on Silverstone; the editors consider it negligent that the roots of post British war motorsport are not recorded or celebrated more. This includes Cooper for example. It’s known that tourists like to complete a heritage trail yet this has been ignored in London and could so easily for a distinctive necklace and chain of outstanding museums, race tracks, manufacturing centres, libraries and locations that have contributed to success that Britain enjoys today.


The list services to illustrate the concentration. Diversity, quality and importance of motorsport in London not least the momentum carried forward from prewar.

No. of Motor Clubs and HQ [e.g., The RAC and 750 Motor Racing Club]



Olympia and Earls Court Motor Shows

London Racing Car Show – later The International Racing Car Show [see devoted/ exclusive A&R article]

Photographer’s eg.G.Goddard [see devoted / exclusive A&R article]

Picture Libraries

Press and Journalism

Trade and Trade Association

Specialist Engineers and Component Manufacturer’s. [See tabulation appendix below]

Specialist sports car sales

International Sponsors [see tabulation appendix below]

Park Royal through West London and Middlesex Engineering base. [See tabulation appendix below]

Ford manufacturing plant at Dagenham [not strictly London but on periphery]

During the 1960’s and 70’s London possible serviced the great majority of the Formula 3 and Formula Fords that sprang up and which democratically provided a spring board into higher levels of motorsport participation [ for evidence and details see tabulations /spreadsheets which accompany A&R articles Lotus and Formula Junior/Ford]


Subscribers may wish to consult A&R articles Lotus Design Decades 1950 and 1960’s to have the widest possible interpretation of the socio-economic context of post war London. The appendix is also a useful reference tool giving the range of types and addresses relevant to specialists etc.

During the 1950’s British and particularly the London based Motorsport industry was achieving considerable impact and international results .Examples are:-

v  Jaguar success through the 1950’s with British drivers particularly at Le Mans

v  Vanwall, Moss and the 1957 British GP win [ see Chapman/Costin involvement] and constructors championship 1958

v  Mike Hawthorne World FI GP champion 1958

v  Many of the British racing drivers had a connection with London through racing and its related institutions

v  During the 1950’s Lotus competed and dominated Club racing but also beat International competition at Le Mans in its class

v  Chapman/Lotus achieved their 1st GP in 1960 [Monaco GP] whilst based Honsey /Cheshunt

v  Throughout the 1960 &70s Lotus dominated many lesser classes of racing not least Formula Junior and Formula Ford [ see A&R articles]

v  Many of Chapman’s most iconic and successful racing cars were made and launched with the London connection i.e. The Racing Car or Motor Show

v  From this early London base cars were exported and this called attention to London. Many aspiring drivers and mechanics gravitated here seeking experience and employment

v  During the 1960’s Chapman enjoyed the collaboration with Ford [based at Dagenham] re Twin Cam. Ford Lotus Cortina and Ford Cosworth DFV etc. Ford engines were the mainstay of the Seven etc.

v  Lotus won the 1963 World Constructors and Drivers Championship.2nd place at Indianapolis

v  Lotus won the 1965 World Constructors and Drivers Championship.1st place at Indianapolis

v  Lotus won the 1968 World Drivers and Constructors Championship

v  Lotus won the 1970 World Drivers and Constructors Championship

v  Lotus won the 1972 World Drivers and Constructors Championship

v  Lotus won the 1973 World Constructors Championship

v  Lotus won the 1978 World Drivers and Constructors Championship

The editors draw the distinction that during the early 1960s Chapman moved to Cheshunt and later Hethel.However right up until the late 1980’s London retain much of its predominance.


With a view to making the proposed CCM&EC a reality the following documents articulating the case have been produced:-

ü  Planning permission

ü  Scoping report by consultants

ü  Impact analysis

ü  SWOT analysis

ü  Education, work experience, apprenticership programmes

ü  Business Plan and budgets etc.

ü  Sustainability

ü  Exhibition themes and interpretation

ü  London motorsport trail and experience

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In particular the proposed CCM&EC has developed plans to provide the motorsport experience by linking and integrating a unique group of related activities and locations. By which means students, visitors and tourists can relive the Lotus connection in London. This can be accessed by various means; the foremost by specialist guided tours, by classic car hire by public transport and coach trips. Various themes or programmes can be adopted with multiple options ranging from:-

  • Location-Location! London –Lotus location and Motor racing manufactures and specialists in context
  • The Prisoner and advertising locations
  • Testing and development
  • Race tracks and track experience days and simulators
  • Motorsport institutions and clubs
  • Retail, Culture and Lotus, Fashion, Carnaby Street and the 1960’s etc.
  • London by Lotus : the unique City seen from a Unique car and angle [ photo-shoot opportunities]
  • Designers London –Chapman’s impact and contemporaries in Industrial Design
  • Galleries, shared exhibition themes , exhibits and experience opportunities
  • Lotus dealers networks
  • London –Lotus the Sights and Sounds by day and by night
  • London –Goodwood  recreation of 1950’s atmosphere and ambience [ see A&R article / description]
  • On Tour with Lotus –the Transporter be transported back in time
  • London-Chapman and aviation the links and flight experience
  • Reality and virtual exploring and experiencing by interrelationship with the net. Designing and assembling a personalized package on line.
  • Pits, paddocks and mechanics –The role of the racing mechanic
  • Social History –Lotus and &Chapman –Through the Eyes –the life and times of contemporary London –Time and Place feel the beat- be in the place on the streets places and pavements /locations behind the scenes that influenced the events
  • Beating a Pathe London and Lotus making the news


The conclusions that the editors draw are that:-

  1. London is a foremost tourist magnate for all the compound reasons explained
  2. That London has been and to a certain extent remains associated with Moto racing
  3. That economies, society, technology, education, creativity are not static and there is no room for complacency. They move on.
  4. In a free society there is both choice and competition and more sophisticated societies have greater needs
  5. That the enormity and richness of the London motorsport connection has been misunderstood , ignored and underexploited to its detriment

The editors make the case for the proposed CCM&EC based on the following:-

  • That the proposed CCM&EC [ The Exploratory –Laboratory]  can enhance, enrich, extend and complement existing tourism
  • That it can achieve this particularly through the experience economy/ participation “driving” entertainment /education
  • That it services the creative industries / industrial design through inspiration and design example
  • It has the means to provide training and work experience
  • That the dual nature of its role lends to sustainability and mitigates against over specialism and vulnerability in an economy
  • That it promotes British engineering and offers a show case for what remains a foremost British export
  • That the modest investment capital offers considerable return in the long term  and might service to prevent further decline; furthermore the investment has a double return serving simultaneously existing and future local community educational interests as well as international tourism


Life in Britain between the Wars.LCB Seaman.Batsford.1970

From Rationing to Rock, the 1950’s revisited.S.Hylton.Sutton.1998

ISBN: 0750917334

The proposed CCM&EC documentation pertaing to planning application for Tottenham Road, Hornsey etc.

Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.


London Motor Sports Specialists

The Changing Economic, Technological Location Patterns of British Motor Sport. 1London     DateCompanyLocationCountyPost codeDateLocation1903-1927NapierActonLondonW3  1920-1931BentleyCricklewoodLondonNW21966London1922-c 1963Aston MartinFelthamMiddlesex 1966Newport Pc1906LagondaStaines  1963Feltham1931-c1947AltaChessingtonSurrey   1936-1956HRGChessingtonSurrey   1950-1956HWMWalton on TSurrey   c1955-1960VanwallActonLondonW3  1948-CooperSurbitonSurrey   c1952LotusHornseyLondonN8c1963Cheshuntc1962BrabhamChessingtonSurrey   1958-LolaBromleyKent   1903-1938TalbotActonLondonW3/10  1924-c1963Frazer NashIsleworthMiddlesex 1966Isleworth1908-A.C.Thames Ditt’Surrey 1966Thames Ditt1960SpeedwellFinchleyLondonNW11  1960DerringtonKingston ‘TSurrey   1960WillmentTwickenhamMiddlesex   1960ServaisCricklewoodLondonNW2  1960YimkinSloan Sq.LondonSW1  1960BullancoPeckhamLondonSE15  1960Cambridge EKew greenSurrey   1960JamesKingsburyLondonNW9  1960PalaceGateG?LondonSW7  1960Jack KnightBatterseaLondonSW11  1960Nicholls Eng.’EalingLondonW5   Performance

CarsBrentfordMiddlesex    Chequered F”ChiswickMiddlesex    MarshallsNeasdenLondonNW6  1960BarwellChessingtonSurrey   1960AlbanyParkKingston ‘TSurrey   1960Stabilizer PrCricklewoodLondonNW2  1951-1957Arnott S-CarWillesdenLondonNW10  1955/56Auto Temp.Kings CrossLondonWC1  1955/56BoshHendonLondonNW9  1955/56BowdenWillesdenLondonNW10  1955/56ChampionFelthamMiddlesex   1955/56CordsWillesdenLondonNW10  1955/56DaniellForest HillLondonSE23  1955/56DuckhamHammersmith’LondonW6  1955/56ENV Eng.’WillesdenLondonNW10  1955/56Don ParkerClaphamLondonSW11  1955/56Esso LondonSW1  1955/56GallayWillesdenLondonNW10  1955/56Greene&MayWillesdenLondonNW10  1955/56Holt LondonWC1  1955/56JacksonWembleyLondonNW10  1955/56JohnsonNew Bond StLondonW1  1955/56KLGPutney ValeLondonSW15  1955/56LancefieldS.NorwoodLondonSE25  1955/56LeonardCroftonParkLondon   1955/56MarchalBrentfordMiddlesex   1955/56Nat Fire ProtFelthamMiddlesex   1955/56Newton&BennActonLondonW3  1955/56JA PrestwickTottenhamLondonN17  1955/56Regent Oil LondonW1  1955/56RomacColindaleLondonNW9  1955/56SerkPark RoyalLondonNW10  1955/56Shell-MexThe StrandLondonWC2  1955/56SolexMaryleboneLondonNW1  1955/56Speedometer’ LondonWC2  1955/56Speedy Cable LondonW1  1955/56Stoneham LondonEC2  1955/56UniversalHolland PkLondonW11  1955/56VacumnoilWestminsterLondonSW1  1955/56Vigzol Oil LondonSE10  1955/56Wakefield LondonW1  1955/56WardPutneyLondonSW15  1955/56ZenithStanmoreMiddlesex   1981Ray Race     1981Wimhurst      B.B.C. LondonW12   R.A.C. LondonSW1   B.P LondonSW1   Smiths InduNeasdenLondonNW2   VandervelleActonLondonW3 Maidenhead BrooklandsWeybridgeSurrey   1960Northdowns ECaterhamSurrey   1960Caterham CCaterhamSurrey   1960Wilen Eng.EsherSurrey    Ian  Allan Middlesex    Batsford  W1   HamlynFelthamMiddlesex    Haymarket  W8   Octopus  W1   Patrick StephLondon  Cambridge Williams&PHornseyLondonN8 Edmonton ArchTottenhamLondonN8 Cambridge Autosport LondonW8   Brooklands Bk Surrey    British Jaeger London   1966Illfe LondonSE1  1966″Motor Sport”LondonEC1  1966AAL’SquareLondonWC1  1966SoMM&T LondonSW1  1966″Motor”Tpre LondonEC1  1966MoTtransp LondonSE1  1966RSPA LondonSW1  1937-1960AllardPutneyLondonSW15  1966Simoniz LtdHigh HolbornLondonWC1   BSMotoringChelseaLondonSW3   Phillips Elec LondonWC1   British AlumSt. James Sq.LondonSW1  1960cVanden Plas LondonNW91963Birmingham1966Remax LondonSE11  1932-1936ValeMaida ValeLondonW1  1966Mulliner PWWillesdenLondonNW10  1966Firestone TyBrentfordMiddlesex   1966Uniroyal LondonSW1  1966Pirelli LondonNW1  1966Glacier MetaWembleyMiddlesex   1966Connolly LondonNW1  1966ClevitePerivaleMiddlesex   1966Berger LondonW1  1966TriplexPiccadillyLondonW1  1966DualloysWembleyMiddlesex   1966PyreneBrentfordMiddlesex   1966Castrol LondonNW1  1966ZFMaida ValeLondonNW8  1937-1939AtalantaStainesMiddlesex   1934-1939British SalmRaynesParkLondonSW20  c1963EmeryFulhamLondon   1949-1961EmersonTwickenhamMiddlesex   1959-1963GeminiChiswickLondonW4  1961-1965HeronGreenwichLondonSE10  1954-1956J.A.G.Thames Ditt’Surrey   1950-1952J.B.SFelthamMiddlesex   1954-1955Lester London   1964-McLarenCroydonLondon   c1970RoyalePark RoyalLondon   1960-1965Super TwoBromleyKent   c1966UnipowerPerivaleMiddlesex   1997Barber MotorCroydonSurrey   1997Datum CarbWalton on TSurrey    750 Motor C      16x M’Clubs     1960sDeepSanderActonLondon    Diva      CSS Promot  WC2   AerosparesHolbornLondonWC1   Alfred&AdlerWalworthLondonSE17   AndrePutneyLondonSW15   BarimarFulhamLondonSW6   Beard&Fitch LEC1   Bramber Eng. LondonNW2   British Gear LondonNW10   BTHAldwichLondonWC2   Budenberg LondonW1   BilsteinWembleyMiddlesex    CaxtonKew greenLondon    Collett LondonEC1   Courage LtdStainesMiddlesex    Covell LtdActonLondonW6   DE HavillandEdgewareMiddlesex    Delaney Gall LondonNW2   Elf WembleyMiddlesex    FJ EvansWillesdenLondonNW10   Fish Optical LondonWC2   GandyShoreditchLondonEC2   Goodlass LondonW1   Laystall London    Lodge LondonW1   LucasActonLondonW3   MaskellBrixtonLondonSW9   Microplas LtdMitchamSurrey    Mollart Eng.SurbitonSurrey    NKGHendonLondonNW9   Nestle LondonSW1   Olympus C LondonEC1   Palmer Aero LondonSW1   Pepe Jeans LondonWC2   w.Potter LondonNW10   PowerFlexTu LondonN4   Power PlantWest DraytonMiddlesex    RacingEngi LondonN8   Rayment LondonSE15   RedexChiswickLondonW4   StenorRichmondSurrey    P/EStoneham LondonEC2   Technical PlaTeddingtonMiddlesex    TelcalemitBrentfordMiddlesex    TexacoCanary WhaLondonE14   Trico-FolbretBrentfordMiddlesex    Valli ToolUxbridgeMiddlesex    WeberSunbury on TMiddlesex    Wellworthy LondonW1   Wilde &Sons LondonEC2   WoodheadHounslowMiddlesex    Autolite Middlesex    Aeon LondonN1

Manufacturers. [See separate list]