Britain's Greatest Machines: 1920's

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – Wednesday 14 April, 7.30pm

Chris Barrie takes on the famous high speed banking at the world’s first purpose-built racing circuit in a 1920s Bentley. He races a plane on a 1925 Brough Superior motorcycle. And he takes to the air in a De Havilland Moth, the tiny aircraft beloved of aerial explorers that helped pioneer the commercial air routes we still use today. The 1920s was the decade that forged the modern petrol-centred world we now live in. When it started, petrol was only sold in tins from the chemist. Yet, by the time it ended, there were 60,000 garage forecourts up and down the country supplying petrol for the millions of new vehicles on Britain’s roads. With a powerful empire, Britain controlled half the world’s oil reserves but needed a way of transporting all that oil. Chris drives a Scammell Pioneer the giant off-road pipe carrier that was essential to building long distance pipelines. This was an era in which engineers began to see no limits to what could be achieved with new technology. But one great machine was a dream

too far: inside one of the largest buildings ever constructed, Chris relives the extraordinary and tragic story of what was then the largest flying machine on the planet – the R101 airship.

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