Top Gear

The real history of the Top Gear Track

  • 1938

The BBC Top Gear track has been laid out on the main runway of the former WWII RAF and RCAF air base.   The perimeter roads used for Gambon and the finish line were laid over the route of original B-Roads that were ripped up when the airfield was constructed in 1941.  One cottage, Broadmead, was situated where the TopGear FollowThrough is now, but the cottage was lifted whole and winched half a mile on rollers to the otherside of the airfield.

Broadmead cottage original location in 1942 now at FollowThrough of Top Gear track

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Runways

It is a rare feature that all three runways survive at their original lengths and are connected with a complete perimeter track with at least 75% of the aircraft hardstanding.
Two runways are much rarer than others elsewhere in the UK as they have a large number of the Mk II airfield lighting fittings intact, together with the cast-iron drains and French drains along each side of the runways.

Runway immediately after construction 1942
Around 1942 but note and contrast the  parallel “runway feature” alongside the main runway.

The runways were constructed for a Class ‘A’ bomber airfield. The white concrete of the runways and perimeter track were sprayed with a mixture of tar and wood chippings. This dark textured finish was optically non-reflective and from the air closely resembled grass. The chippings also added extra surface grip without damaging the aircraft tyres.

Runway wood chippings
Runway wood chippings
Dunsfold runways 1940’s
Dunsfold runways looking NW 1940’s

VSTOL Pad on Runway 1960

Airfield Light Fittings Sect1

Runway light fitting of WW2 era

Airfield Light Fittings Sect2
Airfield Light Fittings Sect3
Runway Catch Mechanism
Complete Runway Catch Mechanism
Runway Catch Mechanism
Remnants of Runway Catch Mechanism 2016


  • Aerial photograph 1942