125th Anniversary celebrations open at Hampton Court Palace
A glittering showcase of pioneering pre-1905 veteran cars starred at last weekend’s Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace and was the perfect royal curtain-raiser to this year’s very special RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (Sunday 7 November).
In just a few weeks’ time, the world’s longest running motoring event will be honouring the 125th anniversary of the original London to Brighton Emancipation Run of 1896 – an historic capital to coast celebration instigated by a group of intrepid early enthusiasts to rejoice in the passing of the Locomotives on the Highway Act.
The introduction of this new era-defining government legislation raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph thus giving motorists the freedom of the road and effectively ending centuries of horse-drawn transport.
To this day, the historical significance of the Emancipation Run is saluted annually by The Royal Automobile Club via its long-running organisation of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and, to mark the milestone 125th anniversary, The Club is instigating a number of notable celebrations as the remaining weeks countdown to Sunday 7 November.
Setting the scene perfectly, a gathering of remarkable veteran cars was among the star attractions gracing the beautiful grounds of Hampton Court at the prestigious Concours of Elegance (3-5 September).
Sharing the spotlight with many of the automotive icons for which they paved the way, these early trailblazers entered Henry VIII’s famous Thameside residence as part of Friday morning’s ‘grand arrival’ entry parade. They were then on public display before being officially presented on the main Concours Stage later in the afternoon.
The dazzling 125th anniversary collection included a number of very significant early pioneers. These eye-catching rarities included one of only three surviving Dennis cars known to exist, a 1901 Gasmobile, a 1902 Napier, a 1902 MMC, a 1903 De Dion Bouton and a 1904 Autocar.
"It really was the perfect way to kick off our celebrations marking the 125th anniversary of the first London to Brighton Run,” reported Jeremy Vaughan, Head of Motoring at the Royal Automobile Club. “It was a privilege to be behind the wheel of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust's 1900 Daimler to lead the cavalcade of veteran cars through the spectacular Palace gardens and up onto the rostrum.
“The cavalcade drew hundreds of excited spectators and it was a joy to demonstrate these early pioneers in action in the company of many of the rarest cars from around the globe assembled for the coveted Concours of Elegance.”