The Development of the Race Circuit and Wartime Donington Park

After the First World War the estate was bought by John Gillies Shields who hosted functions for paid visitors in both the Hall and the grounds. Fred Craner persuaded the owner to host motor racing in the grounds with the first race being held in 1931. The track was laid out using the paths and roads of the Donington estate. The first major car events staged were the 200 mile tourist trophy races and these were followed in 1935 by the 'Donington Grand Prix'. Racing was brought to a halt by the onset of the Second World War in 1939. The park was requisitioned by the War Office and became No. 29 Vehicle Reserve Depot, the largest military facility of this type, housing up to 500,000 vehicles at one time.

Many events were held at the hall and grounds between the wars such as this jolly looking Folk Dance Festival, 1931. A contrast to the music festivals held at Donington more recently! Pin on Pinterest

Programme for one of the earliest motor car races to be held at Donington. Pin on Pinterest

Programme for one of the first 'Donington Grand Prix' car races in 1935. Pin on Pinterest

The 1939 fixtures were curtailed by the outbreak of the Second World War and motor racing would not resume until the 1970s. Pin on Pinterest

1935 Grand Prix drivers. Pin on Pinterest

This World War Two respirator was found during an archaeological excavation at the race circuit in 2009.

Copyright Network Archaeology Ltd. Pin on Pinterest

Documents and postcard courtesy of Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland.


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