The Brooklands Recovery Engineering And Salvage Team (or BREAST for short) goes back to the early days of the Museum in 1985, long before it was opened to the public, it did not really have a name then and was basically a group of mates doing what had to be done. In those days the Brooklands 30 acre site was all about preparing for when the public would be let in. National Rescue who at that time had depots in the West Country, Midlands and the Home Counties also had their Headquarters at Brooklands and were soon asked to help out with collections. Around the same time a bunch of Brooklands' volunteers lead by Roy Lomax, collected a Viking flying boat from Thorpe Water Park. This was probably the first time an aircraft had been brought into Brooklands by Brooklands' Volunteers, as the famous Loch Ness Wellington had been recovered slightly earlier by professionals salvage people.
It was clear that Museum funds would be better spent on other things and so Roy Lomax and later Julian Temple (then Aviation Curator) decide to make greater use of the free services offered by National Rescue. Their MD Andy Lambert was happy to help and soon gathered around him a team of other National Rescue staff who were happy to give of their time. Most notable amongst these were Alan Poet, Dave Petts, Brian Gasson and Ian Stych.
The team recovered various items, repositioned existing exhibits and helped with site clearance. The very first full sized aircraft recovery they undertook was in 1988 and was a Vickers Varsity, which they moved from Sibson Airfield in Cambridgeshire, to Brooklands in Weybridge Surrey. National Rescue were assisted by the Middlesex based company Savill Freight as they did not have a suitable low loader available. As in so many jobs at that time, the dismantling and reassembly was largely undertaken by one unique man called Mick Bates. The following year things really got underway with several large recoveries including a Hunter and Viscount aircraft, for which they used their own flat beds.
Over the years the team has grown and shrunk, some people have helped on one, or two jobs, a few have been on most of them. Other Managing Directors have joined Andy in loaning equipment and expertise; these include Boarhunt Group, CeeJay Systems, CMG, Fred Henderson, Langley Vale, McAllister Recovery, Ontime Automotive, Queens Motors, Warwick Trailers and many others. Andy Lambert's successors at National Rescue Geoff and Martin Lambert have also helped greatly over the years.
But the main strength of the team comes from its individuals, the 'main' helpers over more recent years in no real order are Paul Swift, Roger Hargreaves, Hilary and Roy Lomax, Tony Amos, Ron Brant, Steve Lewis, Martin Strick, Maurice Jones, Mike Crutch, Ant, Bob and David Hunt, Nik Read, Paul Godfrey, Jeff Sechiari, John Downey, Kai Choi, Keith Adams, Steve Green, Andy Green, Ben Green, Mike Cowan, Peter Burton and Stephen Lloyd, but there are also others.
In the picture at the top of the page the team is dismantling and then Transporting the Brooklands' Vickers Vimy in October 2009, after its last historical flight and landing in Mercedes-Benz World. You cam also see both equipment and staff loaned by Andy Lambert's friends at CMG, Langley Vale, NRG, and Warwicks for this major operation. The job was started at sunrise, with the fuel being drained from the aircraft. The rear fuselage was then removed and the wings section was winched by the Brooklands Belle onto a specially designed by Warwick Trailers low loader. The rear section was then craned on to a CMG vehicle. As the Sun set the team convoyed everything through Mercedes Benz World, onto the main road and through the estate into the Wellington Hangar. Incredible by midnight the team had reassembled the aircraft and were eating fish and chips beside the aircraft.
On the menu above there is a link to some of the major and more interesting jobs undertaken by the Brooklands Recovery Engineering And Salvage Team. This has however just 'scratched the surface' because there are many more highlights in our long career helping out at Brooklands Museum. To give you a flavour of our work you can see a few images below showing thing like the time Fleet Air Arm delivered by helicopter a 'Bouncing Bomb' they had retrieved from the sea on to our flat-bed. There have been many aircraft we have towed including bringing Brian Angliss's Hurricane (so sadly lost a few years later in 2007 at one of the ill fated Shoreham Air Show) across into the Clubhouse Paddock so its Merlin engine could be fired up as the Sun went down one glorious evening. Then there is HRH Prince Michael of Kent naming one of National Rescue's vehicles 'The Spirit of Brooklands' and some images of us working on some aircraft that only stayed at Brooklands for a short while. Enjoy . . .