Rare documents relating to an astonishing inter-war plan to build the world’s first ‘Super Speedway’ between Boston and Skegness are to go under the hammer.
The proposal was to create a 15-mile long track that could handle the land speed record breaking attempts that daredevil drivers such as Malcolm Campbell were making as they pushed ever closer to 300mph.
The search for a new British site started in 1927 when Pendine Sands in South Wales was closed to record breaking attempts after the death of John Parry-Thomas in an horrific high-speed crash. Would-be record breakers then had to cross the Atlantic to Daytona Beach in Florida but as speeds rose higher it became clear that even its 10-mile length was becoming inadequate.
After a nationwide investigation the Automobile Racing Association identified the north shore of the Wash as the ideal place to build a new speedway. The plan was to reclaim and embank a mile-wide strip of saltmarsh between Gibraltar Point south of Skegness and Clay Hole by the mouth of Boston Harbour. The track would be dead straight and flat for 15 miles, permitting greater speeds than anything previously possible.
A four-and-a-half mile long grandstand was to be built to accommodate up to 150,000 spectators – and that was just the start. The Association also envisaged the 10,000-acre site having a 12-mile T.T. circuit, a six-mile waterway for motorboat racing, a test track for the British motor industry and an aerodrome, not to mention facilities for a range of other sports.
The scheme attracted serious backers, ranging from leading government figures to members of the aristocracy. Malcolm Campbell was an advisor, as was Francis Curzon, the motor-racing 5th Earl Howe. Joseph Emberton, the leading London architect of the day, was engaged to work on the project.
It was a fabulous plan but the timing just could not have been worse.
James Laverack of Louth auctioneers James Taylors said: “It was a fabulous plan but the timing just could not have been worse. The Stock Market Crash and the Depression, followed by the rise of Hitler and the Second World War, did for it. Preparatory work was halted, the project was shelved and eventually forgotten.”
James added: “We began researching the story after being asked to help with the disposal of the private collections and archives of the historian and former Lincolnshire Life magazine editor the late David Robinson.
“The discovery of the cache of speedway documentation, mixed in with maps, prints and other county-related material, came as a great surprise. It includes the original speedway plans and maps, artist’s impressions, the impressive 14-page ‘Advance Particulars and Information’ document issued to potential investors in 1931 and even an application form for the initial share offering.”
The Speedway collection is one of a number of lots from David Robinson’s huge library and archive of Lincolnshire material that are to go under the hammer on Tuesday, June 26.
Ironically the thing that is expected to achieve the highest value is a treasure from a slower age of travel . . . a rare leather-bound atlas containing the full set of maps created by the pioneering 18th century surveyor Captain Andrew Armstrong who spent three years (1775-78) accurately mapping the County of Lincolnshire for the first time.
The auction catalogue is available at www.johntaylors.com.
Viewing is on Sunday, June 24th, 2-4pm, Monday 2-4pm and on Tuesday morning (June 26), from 8.30am until a quarter of an hour before the start of the sale at 10am.
The auction is to be webcast live via www.the-saleroom.com.