The Royal Automobile Club has won the 2017 Surrey Heritage Award in recognition of its conversion of an 18thcentury barn at its Woodcote Park estate, into a home for the Club’s heritage vehicle collection.
Presented by the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust, the award was created to celebrate Surrey’s rich and diverse architectural heritage, highlighting best practice in historic building conservation and restoration.
The winner was announced during a ceremony on 29 March at Loseley Park, Guildford, hosted by Michael More-Molyneux, Lord Lieutenant of Surrey and Patron of the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust. Dame Helen Ghosh, Director-General of The National Trust, was the guest speaker.
Miles Wade, Club Secretary, said, “We are delighted that our work to restore the barn and give it a contemporary life by housing our motoring activities and showcasing our heritage has been recognised. Although a team effort, the project owes much to the inspiration of the late Peter Foubister, our former Motoring Secretary, for devising the concept and ensuring quality and authenticity, sustaining the Club’s reputation as a responsible guardian of our historic estate.”
The project was designed by Giles Quarme Architects and follows a tradition of re-purposing barns and stables on country estates into motor houses after the demise of the horse and carriage as a means of transport.
The Motor House accommodates the Club’s heritage vehicle collection, including automobiles from the RAC roadside assistance fleet as well as stalwarts of the Club’s annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. It will be open to the public as part of the national Heritage Open Days event in September.
Dating from 1770, the Motor House was built when the Woodcote Park Estate was owned by George Nelson. This is evident in the support beam in the gabled roof, which displays the inscription Geo.Nelson, Esq. Dec.7th 1770
The Royal Automobile Club
The Royal Automobile Club was founded in 1897 and its distinguished history mirrors that of motoring itself. In 1907, the Club was awarded its Royal title by King Edward VII, sealing the Club’s status as Britain’s oldest and most influential motoring organisation.
The Club’s early years were focused on promoting the motor car and its place in society, which developed into motoring events such as the 1000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900. In 1905, the Club held the first Tourist Trophy, which remains the oldest continuously competed for motorsport event. The Club promoted the first pre-war and post-war Grands Prix at Brooklands in 1926 and Silverstone in 1948 respectively, whilst continuing to campaign for the rights of the motorist, including introducing the first driving licences.
Today, the Club continues to develop and support automobilism through representation on the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Motor Sport Association (MSA), and RAC Foundation while promoting its own motoring events including London Motor Week, which features the free-to-attend Regent Street Motor Show on Saturday 4th November and the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run supported by Hiscox, which takes place on Sunday 5th November.
The Royal Automobile Club also awards a series of historic trophies and medals celebrating motoring achievements. These include the Segrave Trophy, the Tourist Trophy, the Simms Medal, the Dewar Trophy and the Torrens Trophy.