Thursday, August 7, 2008

Images from the dawn of motoring

The Daily Mail reports that an old photograph album has been found, containing images of motor vehicles from 1896 to 1900. It's to be auctioned in October. I found the images fascinating, and thought you might like to see what motoring was like in a gentler age.

The first photograph:

... shows a crowd of men in hats watching competitors arriving at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton at the end of the of the "Emancipation Run" of 1896 - later known simply as the London to Brighton Run.

That first run celebrated the passing into law of the "Locomotives on the Highway Act", which raised the speed limit for "Light Locomotives'" from 4 miles per hour to 14 mph (8 mph in built-up areas).

It also abolished the requirement to be preceded by a man on foot. Thirty-three vehicles started that historic first run, with 14 - mostly French - reaching Brighton.

Another image captures competitors in their cars at the start and at various stages of the 1000-mile Time Trial which started from Hyde Park Corner in London at 7 am on April 23, 1900.

Forty-nine of the 65 starters completed the event, which took in Bristol, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Manchester, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham before finishing back in the capital. Winner was Charles Stewart Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce a few years later.

Bristol was the staging post at the end of the first day's 118.5 mile run along the old coaching road (the A4) from London.

According to contemporary reports, by the time cars reached Bath heavy rain had fallen making progress over the greasy tramlines and soaked paved streets difficult.

The Bristol Times & Mirror recorded that "with so many engines driven by petroleum spirit there was a noticeable odour, but it was not strong enough to be entirely disagreeable.

The motors generally seemed to be under splendid control, and the ease with which the steering apparatus worked was generally remarked upon by the spectators."

This image shows the shareholders of Daimler gathering at its Coventry factory in 1897.

Finally, this shot is from a car show at Cheltenham:

I wonder what those cars would be worth today, if they were still intact and in that condition?


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