It had been lovingly folded and packed away, stored in the attic for years. My neighbour’s mother was a WRNS Petty Officer and wore her uniform with pride. Now, I was on duty, parading her honour, tie straight, tricorn hat positioned correctly, the uniform pristinely pressed as it was all those years ago. I was ready to join the other cadets, captains and corporals proudly flaunting shiny medals at the Goodwood Revival, a time-warp event, deep in a corner of West Sussex where time and people slip back a few decades.
The atmosphere was convivial, creative and fun, a place and an event to temporarily forget the stresses and strains of today and instead, live in the past. There were men in tweeds, braces and caps while others were kitted out in utility wear of overalls and dungarees. They mingled with ladies in swing dresses with furs, frills and shoulder pads, all looking the part. And with a nod to memory lane were the lookalike characters from Dad’s Army and Dixon of Dock Green and of course the flirty girls of Glam Cabs, inspired by Carry on Cabbing! So much to see, so many smiles and not far away from a PG tips tea shed.
It’s not hard to keep in period style at the Goodwood Revival with Betty’s Parlour available for the professional hair-do, up or half-up, complete with curlers and pins…. and barbers too, of course. The vintage stalls overflowed with colourful outfits to buy and inspirational ideas for next year’s event. It’s a retail haven with the underlying theme of sustainability. Motor enthusiasts could browse and buy everything including parts from the past to aero art and antiques.
The Revive & Thrive Village made its debut this year, championing the sustainable ‘Make Do and Mend’ approach of post-war Britain through a modern lens. A range of exhibitions and live talks took place on subjects ranging from how to tinker with a vintage motorcycle, roll your hair, to repairing an aging stool. I attended a sewing workshop to make a vintage headband which was followed by one on darning. This reflected the era of its time when it was essential to breathe new life into second-hand belongings – quality over quantity. A reconsideration of today’s throwaway culture.
Three Spitfires soared above before the action started around the circuit at full speed with engines revving and screeching throughout the weekend in a total of 15 races. There were track moments celebrating the motoring career of Graham Hill, a two-time Formula 1 World Champion and Ferrari’s 75th anniversary. And this year, there was a scheduled time when the roars and revs of the engines were switched off, all silent in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11. This was followed by a speech from the Duke of Richmond and Gordon remembering the many times she visited Goodwood.
The race starts were just as exciting as the finishes. Grid girls added glamour and colour clutching matching numbered boards indicating the start row positions for the cars. For the motorcyclists, it was the traditional Le Mans-style start which sees riders run across the track to jump on their bikes when the start flag is dropped. And visiting the Revival Paddock was a must where you could mix with the racers along with a closer view of the trophy cars and bikes arriving back or preparing for their race.
Lining up for the start, car drivers and motorcycle riders were poised and ready with their prized machines. The Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy race, a two-rider race on motorcycles of a type that raced up to 1966, roared by, full throttle. And not forgetting the aspiring junior drivers, The Settrington Cup was a contest racing Austin J40 pedal cars.
Back in July 1922, the Austin Motor Company unveiled the Austin Seven, the first affordable family car which had also served as a mechanism to avoid the new Horsepower Tax which was introduced in 1921. By 1939, around 290,000 had been built. Goodwood paid tribute to this iconic car which transformed the British car industry. The Austin Seven centenary celebration saw around 150 Austin Sevens, of every shape and size, forming one of the largest parades ever assembled at the Revival.
The action was not only around the 2.38-mile circuit. On the airfield and displayed to a captivated audience of all ages was a gathering of vintage aircraft to include the 1942 Hawker Hurricane, all gleaming in its full glory. Goodwood has been synonymous with World War 11 military aircraft ever since the current Duke’s grandfather loaned a section of the Goodwood Estate to the Royal Air Force.
The art deco building represented the Earls Court Motor Show – a homage to the 50’s and 60’s London Motor Show. It transported the event into the future with modern electric cars, each stylistic and whisper-quiet. Here, under the spotlight, guarded from eager fingerprints, lay a Mustang, Aston Martin, Land Rover, BMW and the ‘Mini Strip’, a collaboration between Paul Smith and Mini. A cocoon of high-tech and strikingly stylish vehicles with an eye-watering price tag to match.
For family entertainment the Sky Cinema brought a taste of the silver screen with classics such as Grease, The Italian Job and The Wizard of Oz. Seating in vintage cars in front of the Revival Cinema screen offered that authentic “drive-in vibe” Nearby, live bands entertained with Rock ‘n Roll music to a seated and dancing audience.
After three full days, the engines are now silent, the bunting taken down and my uniform once again folded neatly and packed away ready for next year. The Goodwood Revival is a return to the halcyon days of racing, draped in authentic dress, and hosting the oldest and the most historic vintage machinery on two, three and four wheels on the ground, track and in the air. The Revival began in September 1998 when the Duke of Richmond and Gordon drove around the circuit in a Bristol 400, the same car in which his grandfather had driven to open the track in 1948. This is Goodwood’s unique authentic time capsule event recreating the glamour of its time every September.
Goodwood is located near Chichester in West Sussex.