1902 Motoring

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Sir,

In November 1902 Richard Kearton, FZS (a noted naturalist and photographer of that time) wrote the following words in an introduction to an edition of Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selbourne:—

“Selbourne still remains a delightful oldworld Hampshire village in which few jarring notes are heard save those of the steam thresher and the dust fiend motor car, the latter of which finds lodgement even within the sacred walls of the naturalist’s old home. We wonder what he would have thought of rising on a fine Summer’s morning and, after taking a walk around his garden, seating himself in one of these vehicles and partaking of an early breakfast with his brothers in Fleet Street. Such a travelling feat would have appeared to him impossible, but it is frequently accomplished by the present occupier of our author’s old home ‘The Wakes’ “.

Selbourne is some fifty miles from Fleet Street, and as the mention of the dust fiend motor car reminds us, the roads in 1902 were far removed from the smooth tarmac that we know today.

I have often wondered who was the intrepid motorist (and presumably journalist) who lived at “The Wakes” in 1902? What car did he drive and what route did he take (the main road over the Hog’s Back and Guildford would have been a severe test for most 1902 cars).

I also wonder if any owner of a 1902 car would care to repeat the journey today through the morning traffic and whether an early breakfast could he obtained if Fleet Street was reached safely?

Seventy years is a long time but I wonder if some of your knowledgeable readers could still answer some of the questions posed.

Thames Ditton, Surrey. D. M. IVES.