Title ID 9809Collection ID1162
Date[ca. 1952 - 1958?]
CollectionCorder Family
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurNon-fictionActuality/Factual
KeywordsCars Commemorative Events Motor Vehicles
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionGeoffrey Corder
CameraGeoffrey Corder
Format16mm Colour Silent
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This colour film shows a race at Silverstone, Northamptonshire in the 1950s. The film focuses on the cars passing one of the viewing banks on a corner of the track, opposite the lap counter board. Crowds of people are filmed watching the race from platforms or sitting on the roof of their cars.


This colour film shows a high performance car race at Silverstone between 1952-54 (?); 1956(?) or 1958(?). The film opens on lap 15(?) as the cars pass the lap board. People are seen sitting on the grass next to the track behind ropes . A policeman is seen talking to a member of track staff. The film shows cars passing the camera once again and a man turning the lap count boards to change the numbers. A three person pace car then passes camera (?).

Car No 7, Green; is seen pulling onto the side of the track so a member of staff can pull out the fence post that is sticking out of the car's radiator grill. Track staff then push the car back onto the track as a rolling start. The camera briefly focuses on several planes (?) that pass overhead, then continues with the race. The next shots focus on the people attending the race. Visitors have built scaffold constructions to view the race; others are shown sitting on the roofs of their cars on the grass verge, at the side of the track.

The camera then focuses on a series of flags on a flagpole: GBR; GER; FRA; SWI then back to the spectators. The camera in close up focuses on a pass badge on a car that reads: 5th RAC British Grand Prix Silverstione, Saturday 19th July 1952. Sponsored by the Daily Express' The camera then returns to film the race and spectators.


A still from Silverstone (1950s)A still from Silverstone (1950s)A still from Silverstone (1950s)

Contextual information

'Silverstone was opened as a World War Two airfield in 1943, near the leafy village of the same name. Once the war had ended in 1945 Britain was left with a number of redundant airfields but without a major race track. Donington Park was still a military vehicle storage depot, Brooklands had been sold off, Crystal Palace was in a state of disrepair and Brands Hatch was still under-developed. The Royal Automobile Club was interested in Silverstone as a potential site and approached the Air Ministry in 1948 and a lease was arranged. At this time the centre of Silverstone Circuit was a farm producing cereal crops and also a piggery so the RAC employed farmer James Wilson Brown to create the first Grand Prix circuit at the site and gave him just two months to build it. On October 2nd, 1948, amid straw bales and ropes, Silverstone's first event took place, the RAC Grand Prix. The crowds came in their thousands, thrilled to see the return of Grand Prix racing after so many years of war austerity. The 3.67 mile course sent the 23 competing cars racing round part of the perimeter track, up the two former runways and back to the perimeter. This layout meant cars were racing towards each other head-on until they turned sharp left and returned to the perimeter. For this reason canvas screens were erected across the centre of the circuit to stop the drivers being distracted whilst the spectators were not allowed in the centre of the circuit because of the potential damage to growing crops. The winner of the inaugural race at the Silverstone circuit was Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati, who recorded an average speed of 72 mph to claim the first prize of £500. A year later, after the hazardous runways were eliminated and a chicane was inserted at Club on the full perimeter road, Silverstone hosted a second major event in May 1949 – the Formula One Daily Express International Trophy – virtually a second Grand Prix, won by Alberto Ascari. Another of Silverstone's most famous classics also began in August 1949, the Daily Express International Trophy for Formula One cars and for this meeting the Club chicane was dispensed with and the circuit took up a shape that was to last for a quarter of a century.' (2013) Ref: (2013) About-History-Overview (available from) [accessed: 09/10/2013] Additional information on 1950's racing at Silverstone: