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Sunday 6 November


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24 Aug 2021

Emancipation Run Archive: A bicycling follower's report

As Charles Jarrott watched the Emancipation Run procession disappear into the London fog that November morning in 1896, another spectator - who just three years later would join forces with Jarrott to found De Dion-Bouton British and Colonial Ltd - was keeping up with the procession on his bicycle. All the way to Brighton. Selwyn Edge was not your average cyclist. He was a renowned racing cyclist, who had competed as part of the English team in 1891. Four years after the Emancipation Run, S F Edge, by now selling Napier cars as well as De Dion-Bouton, Gladiator and Clément-Panhard, began his remarkable motor racing career, winning his class on the Royal Automobile Club's 1000 Mile Trial in a Napier.

In 1934 Edge related his experience as a bicycling follower of the Emancipation Run in his book My Motoring Reminiscences:

As Mecredy and I followed the procession on our bicycles, we overtook many who had fallen by the way and were struggling to restart engines which had stopped for one reason or another. The Daimler parcels van No. 10, driven by C. H. E. Rush, had been fitted up as what was termed a breakdown van; it contained numbers of spare parts, tools, etc., which might be needed by the competitors, but there was probably no vehicle taking part which had so much trouble. Actually, Rush arrived at Brighton at 3 a.m. on the following morning, having spent most of the time lying on his back on the road beneath the vehicle.

The two Bollée three-wheelers driven by Léon and Camille Bollée, were the fastest cars there. As soon as Brixton was passed they set the pace and left everything behind them. Duncan, who was driving the third Bollée, had a most unpleasant experience. He carried, as his passenger, W. M. Turrell, who was the father of C. McRobie Turrell, the then secretary of Lawson’s British Motor Syndicate. In going down a hill he saw a small wagonette at the bottom, driven by a lady and drawn up on the right-hand side of the road. As the Bollée approached the horse took fright and turned across the road, blocking the way. Duncan had to choose between crashing into the wagonette and probably killing Turrell or going into the ditch. He made a last effort to get through by running on to the grass border, which proved rougher than he expected. The Bollée swung round and stopped dead, with the footboard against a bank, while Turrell rose, balloon-like, out of the seat, nearly cleared the ditch and then fell backwards into a foot of muddy water. To make matters even more grotesque, Turrell was wearing a pair of white ducks, and his appearance as he crawled out of the ditch can be imagined. The Bollée was badly damaged and only top speed could be engaged, but the heroic pair carried on until it began to rain in torrents. The wheels were throwing up grit and water-splash, and eventually sand entered the carburettor and the engine stopped. Turrell got a lift on one of the passing cars into Brighton, while Duncan borrowed a horse and trap which ran into a drove of cattle in the darkness and killed one of the cows!

I well remember seeing one wheelwright’s shop in Reigate adorned with the notice, Motor-Cars Repaired While You Wait.

Mecredy and I followed the procession the whole way and we witness the entry into Brighton of several vehicles which just managed to limp to the finishing point



A. Lange & Söhne