This third news item in our series ‘News from Years Ago’ was published in the December 1946 issue of Motor Commerce. It reported on the revival of the London to Brighton veteran car run after an interval of eight years. This run also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original “Emancipation” run on 1 November 1896. A record number of entrants, 137, started from London and, despite appalling weather (just as in the first run of 1896), 75 arrived at Brighton.
At 8 am the first car of the first group was sent off – the regulations provided that cars should be set with certain average speeds for the run, those built in 1894-1896, 10 m.p.h.; in 1897-1900, 12 m.p.h.; in 1901-1902, 14 m.p.h., and in 1903-1904, 18 m.p.h. With the conditions on the day and traffic congestion, drivers had a tough time maintaining these speeds.
At 8.15 am there was some excitement at Hyde Park Corner. On exiting the park, the steering of No. 18, E. O. Corkett’s air-cooled De Dion Quad, 1899, appeared to shy at a traffic policeman and the vehicle charged straight for him. In the words of the report: “Smart evasive action saved the limb of the Law”, but the Quad headed on for St. George’s Hospital and was stalled before any damage had been done.
At 8.25 am the veterans were settling down nicely, as seen in our headline picture taken on Westminster Bridge, where a bunch of veterans were catching up with P. Fotheringham-Parker, driving his 2¼ h.p. Century.
No. 6, E. Marshall, starting off on his Beeston tricycle, while other competitors are arriving.
A compulsory stop at Crawley gave everyone a 1½-hour break for refreshments, adjustments and time to bale out after the downpour.
Smoke and bustle at the Crawley halt while competitors get under way again.
F. J. Pidgeon’s Hurtu has difficulty making the grade at Crawley, with his mechanic’s assistance.
At the end-of-run dinner at Brighton, particular tribute was paid to Otto Mayer and A. O. Bradley, drivers in the original 1896 run, who came down as passengers in one of the cars. Other notables on the run were George Lanchester in his own eponymous 1901 car, Fred Bennett in his own Cadillac, and Victor Riley.
The report concluded with a list of other people present at the dinner – and it included some famous names: Mr and Mrs Richard Dimbleby; Sir Algernon and Lady Guinness; Mr and Mrs Kenneth Horne; Commander Earl Howe and Countess Howe; Mr and Mrs Frank Lanchester, and Mr and Mrs George Lanchester.
Photos courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive.