Goodwood Revival: Travelling Back in Time

Three-day boating clubs: the 11th Duke of Richmond’s own club, Richmond Rowing Club, and Goodwood Rowing Club (GRC) with actors as rowers at this year’s Goodwood Revival. Photo: James Sheehy © Southsea Rowing Club.

25 September 2017

Göran R Buckhorn writes that this year’s Goodwood Revival offered more than cars and aircraft.

It is said that Great Britain is a land of eccentrics. So with that in mind, I’m not surprised to read about the event Goodwood Revival, which is an annual three-day festival held each September at Goodwood Circuit in West Sussex, England. Goodwood Circuit is on the estate of Goodwood House, which is owned by Charles Gordon-Lennox, 11th Duke of Richmond, 11th Duke of Lennox, 11th Duke of Aubigny, 6th Duke of Gordon (yes, this is one person), who became Duke of Richmond after his father’s death on 1 September this year.

According to the Wikipedia entry on the Goodwood House, which was built around 1600:

The house and its grounds are the site of the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed, whilst elsewhere on the estate the Goodwood Circuit motorsport track hosts the annual Goodwood Revival, and Goodwood Racecourse hosts ‘Glorious Goodwood’ and a number of other (horse) race meetings. The estate also includes the Goodwood Golf Course and a cricket pitch, home to Goodwood Cricket Club.

At Goodwood Revival, the spiritual home of British motor racing, historic race cars meet fashion of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Photo: Goodwood Revival website.

But for this article, let’s concentrate on the Goodwood Revival festival at the historic Goodwood Circuit, the 3.8 km (2.4 mile) track for two- and four wheeled motorsport that dates back to after the Second World War, when it was first organised by Junior Car Club (JCC; which changed its name to the British Automobile Racing Club in 1949) and sanctioned by today’s Duke of Richmond’s grandfather, Frederick Charles Gordon-Lennox, 9th Duke of Richmond. He opened the track on 18 September 1948 by driving around the circuit in his Bristol 400.

Stirling Moss (since 2000 Sir Stirling).

The winner of the first race was P. de F. C. Pycroft, in his 2,664 c.c. Pycroft-Jaguar, at 66.42 m.p.h., while Stirling Moss won the 500cc race (later to become Formula 3), followed by Eric Brandon and ‘Curly’ Dryden, all driving Coopers. Road racing cars and motorcycles competed at the circuit until 1966.

On 18 September 1998, 50 years after the first Goodwood Circuit had opened, the annual Goodwood Revival started to celebrate the Golden Era of British motorsport of the 1950s and 1960s. According to the event’s website, ‘It’s now the world’s most celebrated historic motor racing event, with race fans coming from all over the country to soak up the unique atmosphere in period costume.’

During the festival, the competitors are driving wheel-to-wheel racing around the circuit in the classic cars of the heyday of the sport and many of the drivers are motorsport stars of the past or present. Racing for the Settrington Cup are youngsters in pedal cars. There is a fashion show with “Best Dressed” competition, rare and historic aircraft and much more.

Photo: Goodwood Revival website.

Goodwood Revival has six main features (click on each feature to get the details): Thrilling historic racing; Finest drivers & riders; Historic Motor Circuit; Vintage dress; Over The Road; and Freddie March Spirit of Aviation.

At this year Goodwood Revival, held between 8 and 10 of September, the festival had increased the transportation vehicles from cars and airplanes (about the latter, see Freddie March Spirit of Aviation above) to also include ‘boats’. In an e-mail, Peter Clarke, Captain of Southsea Rowing Club, a coastal club in Portsmouth, told HTBS, that ‘we were approached to see if we could help [Goodwood Revival] decorate the entrance to the Drivers Club – an area reserved for the drivers and their guests and out of the way of prying eyes.’

Photo: James Sheehy © Southsea Rowing Club.
Photo: James Sheehy © Southsea Rowing Club.

Peter writes that the boats might not have been ‘completely period accurate’, as the boats that the festival wanted to borrow are still rowed and raced by the members of the club, but ‘we nonetheless jumped at the opportunity and loaded up a trailer and van with three wooden sculls and a wooden four, along with a huge assortment of cups trophies, photography and accoutrements pre-dating 1960 from around the club, and delivered them to the estate in the week before the event.’

Photo: James Sheehy © Southsea Rowing Club.
Photo: James Sheehy © Southsea Rowing Club.

The results of the design, made by project manager Candice, ‘were absolutely fantastic,’ Peter writes, which can be seen in Southsea-based photographer James Sheehy’s pictures. ‘Comments such as “it was the best drivers club ever”, came up time and time again,’ Peter writes.

Photo: James Sheehy © Southsea Rowing Club.
Photo: James Sheehy © Southsea Rowing Club.

But there was a small mishap, too. Peter continues: ‘Several actors were employed throughout the day to look as though they were rowers from yesteryear – which was incredible, until one became slightly enthusiastic and stepped into the four that was on the water, going straight through the bottom of the hull.’

Goodwood Revival is the first or second weekend in September every year.

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