LONDON TO RIGI-ITON
How fifty-one veteran cars set out /Or Brighton and only three fell by the wayside.
HALF-past-eight on a rather cold winter’s morning. Imagine a large, low-roofed garage, lit by a somewhat ,lccasional electr;c light, and in it more than fifty motor cars, none of them less than twenty-six years old, and all of them being started up to take the road again. On every side men were swinging wildly at stubborn engines, or with their heads inside bonnets or under seats attempting to effect last minute adjustments. Every now and again there would break out a crescendo of chuggings as a ” single ” got going, the ” turf-turf” of a really old gas-engine type motor starting up, or the collossal racket of one of the powerful 4-cylinder early Nineteen Hundred machines. Most of us had either lubricated the motors thoroughly against the fatigues of the coming journey, or had not quite mastered the correct mixture-setting of an early carburettor, with the result that the air was thick with blue or black smoke, and the fumes had to be smelt to be believed.. Crews rushed, about with tins of petrol or talked vociferously above the din, and every now and then out of the smoke of battle there would appear a monster of the past lurching its way towards the exit, with up aloft mysterious figures swathed in untold quantities of clothes.
Such was the scene on the morning of Sunday 23rd November at Henlys’ Service Station in Glasgow Terrace near the Embankment on the occasion of the start of the London to Brighton Run organised to celebrate the Thirty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation Day. The cars, of which no less than 58 had been entered, had assembled on the Saturday, most of them arriving in pouring rain, with their drivers wondering whether tomorrow was really going to be quite such good fun as they had hoped. The scene on Saturday afternoon was in fact almost as amusing as that which followed it on Sunday morning. Some of the crews were carrying out fairly extensive adjustments and last minute alterations, S. C. H. Davis and his mechanic appearing very busy with the Leon Bolide, which is as smart as ever and has rather incongruously modern looking number-plates. R. 0. Shuttleworth, of course, succeeded in causing a considerable excitement by getting an enormous flare going while he attempted to light the tube ignition burners of his latest acquisition, an 1896 Daimler waggonette. However, the fire subsided, and he was left lamenting that he had five cars there and none of them would go, a statement which was satisfactorily falsified on the morrow. Cars kept arriving all the time of course, and E. Martin thundered in on the big Mercedes with a scream from the exhaust whistle, what t,ime the Star Dogcart, number 12 was left ticking over incredibly slowly, the cup greaser on the big-end of its exposed con
necting rod clearly visible as the motor ” turf-turfed ” comfortably below the back seat.
Soon most of the cars had arrived, and we noticed among them many old friends and some newcomers to the Brighton Run. The 1903 Riley tri-car caught one’s attention as resembling closely a Bailee, although it is distinguished sharply from the earlier French machine in the possession of a really useful looking steering wheel, a similar feature being noticeable in the case of the M.M.C. Dog Cart. It is curious in fact that the majority of the earlier veterans fall into three fairly wellmarked types, which may be described as the Benz type, with the engine at the back and belt and pulley transmission, the Panhard type, which was destined to be that of the future, with the engine in front an,d the sliding pinion gear-box, and the Boll& type, which is entirely distinctive. Nine o’clock on Sunday morning came at last, and the first car, G. J. Allday’s 1894 Benz chuffed to the exit from the garage and was despatched on its journey
to Brighton. P. S. Barnes’ Bollee followed, but R. 0. Shuttleworth’s Daimler, with the owner at the tiller got a bit restive near the door and nearly succeeded iv demolishing both the latter and the Bolide before it was successfully coaxed into the street. One by one, however, the cars emerged into the open, until at last fifty-one had started. E. E. Durican’s 1900 Cyclon three-wheeler and R. C. Blake’s 1897 Daimler, however, obstinately refused to get going for some time, while non-starters consisted of G. H. Pruen’s Daimler of the same year, B. J. SmythWood’s 1899 Renault, F. H. Pearse’s 1900 Benz, Miss E. Brown’s De Dion of the same date, P. Ibbetson’s 1901 Renault, G. Burtenshaw’s 1902 De Dion, and G. Dugdale’s 1904 Renault. Emerging from the garage we turned sharply into the street to meet a thick crowd of spectators who only parted just in time to permit of the passage of the car. One was irresistibly reminded of the same thing which used to confront competitors finishing in the great town-totown races of the old days, although they had to drive into the crowd at 60 instead of 6 m.p.h. I However, we got clear of them and swung onto the Embankment which was nearly deserted. We soon passed the 1901 Panhard et Lavassor
Papillon Bleu” which was early in trouble, and soon afterwards came upon R. O. Shuttleworth’s 1900 Peugeot, whose driver, K. M. Miller, was vainly endeavouring to find top gear. A short detour brought us to Westminster Bridge, and then the crowds began again in earnest. From there all the way out of London the pavements were lined with enthusiastic spectators, and as one crossed the cross roads with all the traffic held up for one, one felt that one might have been part of a royal procession or the Lord Mayor’s Show.
Those Modern Cars.
On over the tramlines we went with none of the other competitors in view. Then we came upon Shuttleworth’s 1897 Panhard et Levassor, once Rene de Knyff’s Paris-Amsterdam racer, and later Lord Rothschild’s brougham in which King Edward travelled to Ascot, stopped by the roadside having been most unfortunately eliminated by a collision with a modern car. Soon in fact the modern cars on the road began to become a most unmitigated nuisance. The pedestrians kept well to the side of the road and everyone seemed willing to lend a helping push to an old motor which was beginning to falter. Drivers of modern cars, however, many of them typical week-end incompetents and others who ought to have known better did their very best to hinder by cutting in on the veterans and then stamping on 4-wheel brakes, a manoeuvre which the old cars’ drivers found its ingularly hard to counter. We could not help being saturninely pleased
later to see one of the worst offenders hopelessly ditched after a minor collision with another modern car.
Meanwhile Brixton Hill was proving the first real obstacle to the earlier cars, although R. Hope-Johnson on Shuttleworth’s racing De Dietrich of 1903 went by at a speed which showed that the big veteran took less notice of the hill than many of the modern cars, and which soon took him to the head of the procession. The hill actually stopped no one permanently, and all the cars successfully debouched onto the Croydon bye-pass. Here the traffic was thicker than ever, and on the hill going up to Croydon Pridge our own car got stopped in a block, and refused to restart on account of clutchslip until the passenger had given a helping hand.
A Glorious 20 m.p.h.
Once out in the country, however, everyone began really to enjoy themselves. The rain of Saturday had been blown away by the night’s gale, and Sunday was a brilliantly fine winter’s day, cold but sunny. The country side looked glorious from the high seat of a veteran car, and 20 m.p.h. had all the thrill of sixty.
Purley, Merstham and Redhill had turned out in force to watch the old cars go through, and then we swung right to Reigate, and as we passed through the crowds in that town, we wondered rather apprehensively what was going to happen on Reigate Hill of which many tales of terror had been told before the start. Actually however everyone climbed the long grade successfully, rather to the disappointment of the large crowd of spectators who had assembled to witness the death gurgles of the veterans, but who had to be content with a few really shrieking gear changes. Crawley provided more crowds which lasted on all the way up the long climb to Handcross, which was successfully negotiated, the steep descent from the village on the other side proving considerably more exciting for some of the competitors whose mounts succeeded in running alh ay somewhat and causing considerable skill being demonstrated in high-speed tiller steering control.
Just short of Bohiey our own Number 33 De Dion had to stop for repairs to the water pump, while H. C. A. O’Rorke came along on a 1904 15 h.p. Darracq, boiling furiously.
Getting away again we came upon G. de Havilland in the 1903 Decauville, going well while one of his passengers was ” shooting ” other competitors with a Baby tine from the tonnaeau. Then on up the last long hill, Patcham, and at last Brighton. Through cheering crowds we swung to the left by the sea, climbed one last hill and turned into the Aquarium garage. Each car as it arrived was surrounded by a swarm of enthusiastic spectators who clung on to it from every side with the result that arriving at one’s appointed parking position was a matter of extreme difficulty. Then at last the gear lever was pulled into neutral, the motor gave a few dying gurgles, and one descended. Some of the younger and more powerful cars, of course, had proved themselves easily faster than their earlier ancestors. R. Hope-Johnson on the 24 h.p. racing de Dietrich, although starting after some forty other cars had arrived first in Brighton, closely followed by A. H. R. Fedden’s 1903 18-28 h.p. Mercedes, which was painted red and which looked in wonderful condition. E. Martin’s big 60 h.p. Mercedes had also come down well, although starting late, and of the earlier cars Davenport’s 1899 Progress voiturette had made a very good time and confirmed its success in the Brookland’s veterans’ race on August Bank Holiday. Among the others of the Nineteenth Century brigade, F. Harvey’s 1898 Vipen had gone extremely well, and a good time had been made by S. C. H. Davis’ Bollee
Some of the others however, had not fared so well. The 1902 Durkopp driven by C. A. Jefford appeared soon after lunch, but not under its own power, being pushed up the last hill to the Aquarium Garage by its tired but determined crew of three and some willing spectators. It appeared that it had suffered from a whole legion of troubles in the water circulation system, which necessitated plugging leaks with pieces of wood from a camera film spool, a cork from a medicine bottle and various other objects. Then the pump drive sheared, and the system had to be connected up to thermosyphon, while one of the passengers stood up in the front seat and emptied cans into the water tank. Thus the car actually reached Brighton, where one of the gentlemen described above driving a modern car proceeded to cut in on it and then stop dead. So did the Durkopp and so did its motor, which nothing would induce to re-start, the valves being mostly burnt out. So it had to be pushed.
Thus one by one the cars arrived, all except No. 5 Panhard et Levassor, already mentioned, the Cyclon and R. C. Blake’s Daimler which had never got going satisfactorily. Last of all as darkness was falling, 0. R. Shuttleworth’s monstrous Daimler appeared being pushed up the hill to the finish by an enormous body of enthusiastic helpers.
Then we all repaired to the tea given by the R.A.C. and were presented with a certificate stating the time and average speed set up by our veteran, a thing which will long be kept as a reminder of as fine a day’s sport as anyone could wish foreven if our speed was only in its “teens.” The official times and speeds of the cars were as follows ; that of the De Dietrich was under-estimated by half an hour by several London papers which was a pity, as inaccuracies of this sort only give a wrong impression and encourage the quite erroneous idea that this event is a town to town race. 1894 Benz (G. J. Allday), 3h. 59m. Os., 14.37 m.p.h.; 1896 Leon Bailee (F. S. Barnes) 5h. 45m. 10s., 9.95 m.p.h. ; 1896 Daimler (R. 0. Shuttleworth) 7h. 8m. 30s., 7.10 m.p.h. ; 1897 Leon Bollee (S. C. H. Davies) 3h. 20m. Os., 17.17 m.p.h. ; 1897 Panhard-Levassor (P. Hawker), retired ; 1897 Daimler (non-starter) ; 1897 Benz (Mrs. M. Miles) 411. 48m. 35s., 11.90 m.p.h. ; 1897 Benz (E. G. Blake) 3h. 34m. 30s., 16.01 m.p.h.; 1897 Daimler (R. C. Blake), retired ; 1898 Benz (C. S. Burney) 4h. 59m. 5s., 11.48 m.p.h. ; 1898 Vipen (F. Harvey), 2h. 59m. 50s., 19.10 m.p.h. ; 1898 Star Dog Cart (F. S. Rowden), 4h. 56m. 30s., 11.58 m.p.h. ; 1898 Stephens (R. Stephens), 3h. 57m. 10s., 14.49 m.p.h. ; 1898 M.M.C. Dog Cart (E. G. Bromhead) 3h. 57m. Os., 14.50 m.p.h. ; 1898 Daimler (D. M. Copley) 4h. 16m. 30s., 13.42 m.p.h. ; 1899 Renault (Non-starter) ; 1899 Progress Voiturette (M. E. Davenport) 2h. 14m. I5s., 25.58 m.p.h. ; 1900 Clement (R. B. Taylor) 6h. 40m. 45s, 8.57 m.p.h. ; 1900 Benz (non-starter) ; 1900 Peugeot (K. M. Miller) 5h. 22m., 10s., 10.66 m.p.h. ; 1900 Wolseley (Mrs. Shuttleworth) 4h. 45m. Os., 12.01 m.p.h.; 1900 Cyclon (B. E. Duncan), retired ; 1900 De Dion (non-starter) ; 1900 De Dion Bouton (C. Pritchett) 311. 20m. 5s., 17.17 m.p.h. ; 1900 Peugeot Voiturette (S. G. Cummings) 2h. 43m. 40s., 20.98 m.p.h. ; 1900 Renault (F. Stannard) 311 32m. 10s., 16.19 m.p.h. ; 1900 Fiat (Sir M. Monson) 2h. 41m. 30s., 21.27 m.p.h. ; 1901 De Dion (W. Keppel), 2h. 56m. 50s., 19.42 m.p.h. ; 1901 Renault (non-starter) ; 1901 Oldsmobile (V. Balls) 4h. 15m. 30s., 13.47 m.p.h. ; 1901 Panhard (P. R. Moore) 5h. Im. 40s., 11.39 m.p.h. ; 1902 De Dion Bouton
(E. K. Karslake) 3h. 36m. 5s., 15.90 m.p.h.; 1902 Gladiator (C. Holbeach) 3h. 56m.. 40s., 14.51 m.p.h. ; 1902 De Dion. Bouton (P. McEntee) 3h. 52m. 40s., 14.76 m.p.h. ; 1902 De DionBouton (G. A. Mangoletsi) 3h. 27m. 15s., 16.58 m.p.h. ; 1902 Daimler (H. C. Butterfield) 211. 37m. 10s., 21.85 m.p.h.; 1902 De Dion Bouton (non-starter) ; 1902 De Dion (J. Risbridger), 4h. 30m. 50s., 12.07 m.p.h. ; 1902 Durkopp (C. A. Jefford) 5h. 12in. 15s., 11.00 m.p.h. ; 1902 Panhard ( J. A. Turner) 2h. 56m. 40s., 19.42 m.p.h. ; 1903 De Dietrich (R. Hope-Johnson) lh. 53m. 50s., 30.17 m.p.h. ; 1903 Siddeley (C. Siddeley) 211. 35m. 10s., 22.13 m.p.h. ; 1903 Riley (F. J. Rogers) 2h. 40m. 5s., 21.36 m.p.h. ; 1903 Mercedes (E. Martin) 2h. 14m. 15s., 25.58 m.p.h. ; 1903 Cadillac (G. Burtenshaw) 4h. 25m. Os., 13.00 m.p.h. ; 1903 Thorny croft (T. Thorny croft) 2h. 26m. 30s., 23.44 m.p.h. ; 1903 Wolseley ( J. H. Wylie) 2h. 40m. 25s., 21.34 m.p.h. ; 1903 Rover (R. V. Price) 311. 19m. 30s., 17.22 m.p.h. ; 1903 Decauville (G. de Havillandi) 311. 45m. 16s., 15.25 m.p.h. ; 1903 ‘Mercedes (A. H. R. Fedden) 211. 3m. 55s., 27.72 m.p.h. ; 1903 Oldsmobile (K. Kirton) 5h. 44m. Os., 9.98 m.p.h. ; 1903 Cadillac (F. S. Bennett) 4h. 2m. 30s., 14.17 m.p.h. • 1903 Lanchester (Lord Ridley) 21i. 37m. 15s., 21.84 m.p.h. ; 1903 Wolseley (A. J. Edmunds) 2h. 56m. 50s., 19.42 m.p.h. ; 1904 Renault (G. Willeby) 2h. 28m. 10s., 23.19 m.p.h. ; 1904 White Steamer (F. C. White) 3h. 58m .45s., 14.38 m.p.h. ; 1904 Rolls Royce (Sir J. Prestige) 3h. 27m. Os., 16.60 m.p.h. ; 1904 Renault (non-starter).-E.K.K.