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History Repeating Itself

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

History Repeating Itself

Geoff Maxted
September 7, 2013

London to Brighton
Today’s automotive world is packed with new technology and innovation. Over the decades the car has evolved into a sophisticated marvel almost capable of thinking for itself; but, if you think about it, the dawn of the motoring age only began a little more than a scant one hundred or so years ago. Then, around the globe, an inspired group of oily pioneers emerged from the sheds of the world to rejoice in the discovery of the horseless carriage. The rest is history.

Every year, that history repeats itself and car owners everywhere should be thankful that a hardy band of enthusiasts continue to run those extraordinary pre-1905 automobiles on the famous 60-mile run from Hyde Park in central London to the seafront in the Sussex resort of Brighton.

The annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is a remarkable homage to the dawn of driving that boasts huge appeal, attracting entrants from around the globe, all eager to participate in what is the world’s longest running and greatest motoring celebration.

It’s a unique event – always staged on the first Sunday in November – that catches the imagination of royalty and personalities from the world of television, stage, music and sport. This amazing showcase that features up to than 500 vehicles from the automobiles very earliest days. With its unique atmosphere and camaraderie, the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (staged specifically as a non-profit making veneration) commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896, which celebrated the Locomotives on the Highway Act. The Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph, and abolished the need for these vehicles to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag. The Emancipation Run was first re-enacted in 1927 and has taken place every November since, with the exception of the war years and 1947 when petrol was rationed.

These days we take our cars for granted. We know that, year on year, they will continue in many ways to get better and better even as ecological concerns - and the various vagaries of whatever political party is in charge - make them increasingly lardy and boring. Thank goodness that the exciting history of the automobile is preserved and celebrated in this way because we are never going to see anything like it again. Support if you can.

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