TV presenter and local resident Richard Hammond has given us guided tour of his Clubhouse, a unique and fascinating space that has been 15 years in the making.
Set in a barn just outside Hammond’s house, the Clubhouse is a labor of love, filled with character and featuring some ingenious designs.
The first thing Hammond emphasizes is that this is not a “man cave” but a Clubhouse, a space for family, friends, and business use. With a production company and various projects like DriveTribe, meetings lasting for days are not uncommon.
The main body of the Clubhouse is the Big Barn, which was initially designed for storing bikes. However, as the space evolved, the bikes were moved elsewhere. Interestingly, they’ve slowly been making their way back into the Big Barn, including a 1930s bike owned by a Spitfire pilot, a 1947 Indian Big Chief, and a 1929 BMW R52.
At the heart of the R52 lies its 486cc horizontally-opposed, air-cooled, two-cylinder boxer engine. The motorbike is capable of producing 12 horsepower at 3,400 RPM, which might seem modest by today’s standards, but was quite impressive for its time. The boxer engine provided the bike with a unique balance, allowing for smooth operation and minimizing vibrations. This engine layout, which has become synonymous with BMW motorcycles, allowed the R52 to achieve a top speed of 70 mph (113 km/h), making it one of the fastest bikes of its era.
The R52’s suspension system was also a major innovation in its day. The front suspension featured a leaf spring design, providing the rider with a comfortable and stable ride. The rear suspension utilized a rigid frame with a sprung saddle, offering a relatively smooth experience despite the absence of a rear swingarm. Combined with the bike’s engine performance, this advanced suspension system made the R52 a popular choice for long-distance touring.
Aside from bikes, the Clubhouse features a kitchen island that doubles as a bar, a home cinema area, and an adjustable table created by Hammond himself. The Clubhouse also has a rich automotive history, as it was once home to Rodney Felton, a well-known car restorer and racer who worked with the likes of Alfa Romeo 8C and Testarossa 250.
In the next phase of development, Hammond is considering adding a library and vinyl record player to the space.