The Bruntingthorpe site was constructed in 1942 as a World War II airfield and was used extensively post-war by Sir Frank Whittle’s Powerjets company for early testing and development activities on jet-engine aircraft.


A new airfield was constructed for the US Air Force in 1954 and was subsequently used as a strategic heavy bomber base, under the code-name Big Thunder, until 1962.


Following a brief period in the 1960s, in which the site was used by the RAF, the Rootes Group purchased the facility in 1972 and began testing vehicles for the first time. Over the next 11 years, a number of test features appropriate for vehicles of the time were installed and used by the likes of Chrysler and Peugeot.


The current owners, C. Walton Ltd., purchased the site in 1983 and began to set up a diverse yet complementary group of businesses under the Bruntingthorpe umbrella. Planning permission was submitted to construct the Cold War Jets museum and the first aircraft started to arrive onsite.


In 2001, Bruntingthorpe saw a gap in the market for unique corporate event packages and welcomed Big Thunder Events to the site. Big Thunder specialises in corporate hospitality and team building services making use both the Bruntingthorpe tracks and internal venue space.


As the Bruntingthorpe Group expanded, B.I.A.S was created, an inhouse vehicle management company set-up after sub-contracting the storage facilities for almost 10 years. Construction of the technical centre and the ability to store and process thousands of vehicles on site has seen B.I.A.S grow rapidly over the last 10 years.


The newest addition to the Bruntingthorpe site is the opening of the auction centre which now hosts the popular Manheim Auctions on a regular basis.



Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire is the current home of C Walton Limited, Manheim Auctions, Big Thunder Events, Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground and the Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, featuring the iconic Cold War Jets Collection as well as a number of other automotive businesses. All situated within the 670-acre site, there is something to meet the needs of each of our customers. Our wide range of facilities allow us to cater for any type of event, from the standard to the obscure, and thanks to our 3.2km straight, Bruntingthorpe still operates as an active airfield.

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