The iconic test site hits half a century.

The famous Millbrook proving ground in Bedfordshire is marking its 50th anniversary in 2020.

First opened in 1970 after two years of construction by General Motors as a dedicated testing and development facility for Bedford and Vauxhall, the site is known for having both naturally flat and hilly sections.

More than 2 million cubic metres of earth were moved during construction, while more than 100,000 cubic meters of aggregate, hardcore, sand and cement were laid, and 200,000 trees were planted.

After 18 years, the side began to trade independently, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Group Lotus which was part of General Motors at the time.

Millbrook Proving Ground

The site continued to grow in the following years and in 2015 it expanded when the business now behind the site  acquired world-leading winter vehicle and tyre testing facility, Test World, in northern Finland. A year later, Millbrook was acquired by Spectris Group, under whose ownership it continues to thrive.

Since 2015 £120 million has been invested in Millbrooks's test facilities, including the acquisition of Lancashire-based Leyland Technical Centre in 2017, Detroit-based, EV driveline test system and test service provider, Revolutionary Engineering in 2018, and opening a new Millbrook Revolutionary Engineering site in California in 2019.

Millbrook Proving Ground

Also in 2019 it opened the UK’s most comprehensive independent propulsion systems test, validation and certification facility and its Battery Test Facility – the UK’s largest private investment in independent battery testing.

"I am delighted to be leading Millbrook into its second half-century of supporting the development of new vehicles," said Alex Burns, president of Millbrook. "This anniversary is a great opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary pace of development of automotive technologies and to recognise the investment that the industry is making to promote cleaner and safer transport in the future. At Millbrook, we will continue to invest in our people and capabilities globally so that we can support our customers wherever they need us."

Despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the site has remained 'COVID-secure' and has continued to offer all of its test services to customers with minimal risk.

Gallery: Millbrook Proving Ground