This is the first in a series we are calling ‘News from Years Ago’ – and we start here with an item from 1896. Other news items will move forwards, in 25-year periods (and, if we can find them, backwards as well).
This news item was published in the 16 December 1896 issue of The Automotor Journal. Headed ‘PEUGEOT PHAETON’, it announces that:
“The Phaeton illustrated on this page is is one which its owner, the Hon. C.S. Rolls, had arranged to travel down to Brighton with on the 14th ult [November]. The Phaeton is a very comfortable vehicle for four persons, built by M. Peugeot, and fitted with an inverted Daimler motor developing about three and three-quarter horse-power. The wheels run very lightly, the spokes are of steel, and the rims are fitted with rubber tyres. The vehicle can run 15 miles an hour comfortably. Owing to inadvertence in starting from Cambridge, the Hon. C.S. Rolls did not arrive at the Hôtel Métropole in time to start.”
The start mentioned was that of the famous Emancipation Run on 14 November 1896 to celebrate the removal of the most restrictive Victorian legislation that prevented widespread use of cars on Britain’s highways. Although it seems that Rolls did not take part in the run, this news item does show his early enthusiasm for motor cars. Rolls was only 18 and still at Trinity College, Cambridge when he travelled to Paris to buy this car – thought to have been the first car based in Cambridge, and one of the first three cars owned in Wales.