Unlike the well-known 1,000-Miles Trial of 1900 that was organised by the Automobile Club of Great Britain & Ireland which passed through much of England and part of Scotland, the 1903 version took place in the South-Eastern part of England. The 135 cars of all types and sizes that participated were based at the Crystal Palace in South London and on each of the eight September days of the Trial they travelled to towns such as Bexhill, Folkestone, Margate, and back.
There were hill-climbs on some of the routes and people were necessary to record the times over the measured distance. That is what the group of ACGBI members seen here are doing, at Hindhead hill on the outbound route to Southsea on day five of the event.
In the driving seat sits Henry G Burford, and beside him is Colonel Crompton whose involvement with steam carriages and road transport dated back to the 1860s, as well as him being a pioneer of industrial and domestic electric lighting. In the tonneau seated behind Burford is Robert Phillips, a consulting engineer and patent agent, and next to him Dugald Clerk, an expert on gas and oil engines who amongst much else had published a comprehensive book on the subject as early as 1886.
Beside the car is Lyons Sampson, a Club founder-member and a regular judge at such events, whilst next to him stands James Ochs. The chauffeur in the background, as was generally the case in those days, is anonymous.
The car is a Milnes-Daimler of the type sold from the London premises of G F Milnes & Co Ltd, at which Burford had become General Manager in late 1900 after he left the partnership that produced the New Orleans voiturettes in Twickenham.
Milnes had been in business since the 1860s with works near Wellington, Shropshire, and later operating an additional factory in Birkenhead. The firm’s principal products were horse-drawn vehicles, particularly trams, and these were joined by motor lorries and cars in 1901. The chassis were imported from Germany and bodied by Milnes. The Daimler business that supplied the mechanical elements was not that at Cannstatt, but an off-shoot that had been established in 1899 at Berlin-Marienfelde. By far the majority of vehicles that Milnes produced were commercials, particularly buses, motorcar output being very limited and ceasing completely during 1903.
Milnes-Daimler continued with lorries and buses until 1916, but independently Burford had started making commercial vehicles in 1914 using American components, the most interesting of these being the mid-1920s Burford-Kégresse half-track.