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SNAPSHOT 112: 1908 Belsize

One of our principal Snapshot contributors, John Warburton of Manchester, had no difficulty identifying this 1908 car as a Belsize of Manchester. But it is a group in Cheltenham who were able to pin the car down more via motor registration records. The Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society publishes a scholarly series of volumes to reproduce and make accessible archival material in the county. A forthcoming volume will deal with Gloucester motor registrations. The position of the FH-8 on the radiator of the car seems to imply a missing number at far right, behind the boy’s shoulder. Records show that FH-8 was a ‘Traveller Voiturette’ and in January 1910 the number was used on a Dixi 12/15, so our picture can’t be those cars. FH-81 was registered on 13 October 1908 as a Belsize 14/16 side entrance tonneau for Charles Frederick Robert Barnett (1879-1980), a motor dealer in Gloucester. This one is ruled out by the fact that the 1 in 81 would have been closer to the 8 and thus visible over the boy’s shoulder, and Barnett’s son was born in 1907 and thus can’t be the lad in the picture. FH-81 was on a motorcycle by 1912. FH-84 was registered on 1 January 1909 as a Belsize 14/16 2-seater for John Edwin Smith, an automobile engineer of Gloucester. Smith had no sons but because the car was listed as ‘trade’ it’s possible the lad belonged to the buyer of the car from Smith. There were no other Belsize cars registered with FH-8 in the number and so FH-84 must be the most likely contender – the shape of a figure 4, unlike a 1, would have been obscured by the lad’s shoulder. On such small points much can depend!


One response to “SNAPSHOT 112: 1908 Belsize”

  1. Peter MacDonald-Card says:

    Interestingly, there is only an off-side acetylene-gas-powered lamp fitted. This was not unusual before WWI, and probably had more to do with the expense of the lamp, rather than efficiency. It is a self-contained Lucas Ltd manufactured lamp of the type that by 1909, was going out of fashion. The oil-powered side lamps are also by Lucas.

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