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Homepage. This page: The evolution of Silverstone, by the use of period and contemporary photographs.

Silverstone Through Time.

Amberley Publishing.

Anthony Meredith & Gordon Blackwell.
ISBN 978 1 4456 0636 1
Published 2013. (Paperback, 95 pages).
Review date June 2013.
Book cover

UK RRP 9.99.

Buy this Book:
Anyone visiting the Silverstone motor racing circuit for the first time ever, or for the first time in several years, may be interested in a refresher of how the circuit evolved from its earliest days, to where it sits now. Likewise, seasoned race-goers with an interest in both historic race cars and contemporary laptop-fuelled speed machines, often have an interest in the venues at which races are, and have been, hosted. Silverstone, home to the British Grand Prix for many a year and a venue that has seen significant re-development in recent years, holds fond memories for many spectators and competitors alike. It is about this circuit's evolution, from a makeshift venue situated on a former RAF airfield, to the high-tech professional facility that resides in the same location today, that this slim book concentrates.
A summary of both the local village, and the airfield's activities during WW2 are described, to set the scene for what was to come. It wasn't long before a chap with an eye for racing decided that an unofficial "race", held around various perimeter roads at the airfield, would be an excellent idea. Once the RAC got wind of this potential venue for motor racing, one thing led to another and the fruits of many people's efforts was the RAC Grand Prix of 1948. Quite how this came to pass is described in the opening pages of this book, accompanied by diagrams explaining how the airfield and its runways and perimeter tracks were re-utilised in their new, peacetime, role. (A book from the same authors, that takes an in-depth look at this first meeting in 1948, is now reviewed on this page here at OCC).
Period black and white photographs, acquired from various sources, lend a depth to this book that at first glance its modest proportions might not suggest. Poring over old photographs is something I like doing anyway, and there are plenty to choose from in this book, often accompanied by photographs from more recent times of the same areas, allowing comparisons between "then" and "now" to be made. While the competition cars feature regularly in these images, so too do the buildings, the spectators (plus their road cars), and the personalities that, combined, gave this airfield circuit its character. While much of the character of the original circuit has been swept away through re-development over the years, there are still tell-tale signs of the "old days" about the place, if you know where to look, and pointers to these early relics and their locations can also be found in this publication.
The majority of the period photographs date to the 1950s and 1960s, which suits me just fine as that's the time period that interests me, but readers hoping to see a great deal of 1970s' material may need to look elsewhere. The book doesn't try to be the be-all-and-end-all of Silverstone's history, rather it aims to portray the venue's history, in the main through imagery, rather than be in-depth discussion of individual races, lap times, and reports. What it does do though is give a broad overview of how the track became established, and how it has changed over the years, with the assistance of some magic early photographs. Given its modest cover price, I think it hits the mark well.
RJ
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