The Royal Automobile Club is a private club and is not to be confused with RAC plc, a motorists' organisation, which it formerly owned.
It has two club houses, one in London at 89-91 Pall Mall, and the other in the countryside at Woodcote Park, Surrey, next to the City of London Freemen's School. Like most other "gentlemen's clubs" in London today, the Royal Automobile Club now has women as well as men as members.
It was founded on 10 August 1897 as the Automobile Club of Great Britain (and, later, Ireland). King Edward VII's interest in motoring led to the command "that the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland should henceforth be known as The Royal Automobile Club". The headquarters were originally in a block of flats at 4 Whitehall Court, moving to 119 Piccadilly in 1902. In 1911 they moved to the current address, part of the site of the old War Office. The club house was (and remains) one of the largest in London, with a frontage to Pall Mall of 228 feet and a depth, in the centre, of 140 feet. It cost over a quarter of a million pounds and is described in the Survey of London as "a polished essay in the late French Renaissance manner".
In 1905, the Club organised the first Tourist Trophy (TT) motorcycle race, the oldest regularly run motor race. The Club became the governing body for motor sport in Britain.
The Club is one of the best equipped of all the Pall Mall "gentlemen's" clubs. It possesses recently renovated Victorian Turkish baths, an Italian marble swimming pool, squash courts (including a doubles court), a snooker room, and three restaurants.
Various parts of the Pall Mall club house have been used as the location for numerous films and television programmes, including "Where Eagles Dare" and "Snatch".
As of 2009, the membership subscription is £1,125 per year, with a £405-755 rate for younger members. The entrance fee is on a sliding scale, ranging from an additional £940 (for the youngest members) to £2,600 (for most members). Although the club's subscription is slightly less than the Carlton, it has the highest entrance fee of any London club.
- Royal Automobile Club website
- Survey of London - illustrated architectural account of the London club house
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