A BEGINNING AND AN END
These are the last -wo stories from WB. We felt it right to publish these in normal form, the close of an amazing run and well-known participant in the very early days of motor tricycles and automobiles was Charles Jarrott. Jarrott and SF Edge were track
racing competitors; they spent much time experimenting with cars and took many happy runs together. Both were for some time in the motor business and their views on the future of the automobile were similar. On the same day that horseless carriages were legally allowed to run on the highways in England without a man with a red flag leading them, after the The Emancipation Act, the Motor-Car Club, formed earlier by Mr Lawson, organised a run from London to
Brighton on November 14, 1896 and out of the 33 starters a Leon Boll& was the first to arrive in Brighton, taking 3hr 44min, in front of the nine other finishers. A year later on Monday November 29, 1897, Charles Jarrott, the thensecretary to the Motor-Car Club, organised and took part in the first English motor race. Members drove from Whitechapel Place, London SW1 to Sheen House in Richmond Park, where the heats took place on Sheen House track. A similar meeting
was held again the following year in November 1898.
On Sunday June 5 this year the De Dion Bouton Club UK (DDBUK) held a run to commemorate the first motor races in Britain. With 30 De Dion Boutons, including four Victorian tricycles, they drove from the Metropole Hotel, Whitehall Place SW1, now the Corinthia Hotel, to the start at the north end of Regents Park. From there they drove to Richmond Park, passing the site of the now demolished Sheen House and the original track. After some ceremonial laps of the park they went on to Brooklands.
Jarrott’s first motor race was in the 1901 Paris to Berlin inter-country race, driving a Panhard-Levassor. He was eighth in the big-car class. In May 1902, driving a 16hp Panhard, he took second place in the Circuit du Nord, which over 572 miles took 13hr 3min 12sec. Then in the Paris to Vienna (the Gordon-Bennett Cup Race), on a 70hp Panhard, he finished 12th in his class. His most successful achievement was winning the Circuit des Ardennes, over a
distance of 318 miles, six times round the course, this being the first-ever circuit race. It took a gruelling 5hr 53min 39sec on the 70hp Panhard.
In 1903 he was third in the dramatic Paris to Madrid race, covering 346 miles in 5hr 52min on a de Dietrich. Then driving for England on a Napier in the Irish Gordon-Bennett Cup Race he met with a serious accident, owing to the steering gear failing. In 1904, entered on a 96hp Wolseley, he finished in 12th place in the Homburg Gordon-Bennett Cup Race. This was his last continental event. At the opening of Brooklands in June 1907
Charles Jarrott drove his big 60hp chain-driven de Dietrich in the opening procession, and on July 6 at the first meeting he entered the Byfleet Plate, a race over 10.3 miles. Newton on SF Edge’s six-cylinder 45hp Napier kept with him for most of the race which resulted in a dead-level finish, so the 450 sovereign winnings were divided between them. Due to this dead heat Edge issued a series of challenges to be contested at Brooklands with stakes of £1000, later increased to an astonishing £10,000. The first of these was that any Napier could beat any car that Jarrott nominated; another was for a team of six six-cylinder Napiers to run against any other team over a distance of three, 60 and 100 miles and win all three, but no one accepted these challenges.
In 1908 Jarrott and his business partner William Letts used the Track for testing the 80hp de Dietrich which they were to drive in the St Petersburg to Moscow event, to satisfy themselves that the car’s suspension was capable of withstanding the worst Russian roads.
In 1909 Jarrott entered a race confined to Fiat taxi cabs, of which 12 in ‘London Trim’ were hired from the Fiat Motor Cab Company. These were allotted to the entrants by a draw and each taxi had to carry two passengers. Harvey du Cros and Jarrott coaxed their taxis to lap at 32.96mph. But it was after racing at Brooklands that Jarrott realised it was the open roads that appealed to him the most.