The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (LBVCR) took place on the first Sunday of November commemorating the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896 which celebrated the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act. This Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4mph to 14mph and abolished the requirement for these vehicles to be preceded by a man on foot.
The early law required the man on foot to carry a red flag, but that requirement was abolished in 1878. The Locomotive Act was still widely known as the ‘Red Flag Act’ and a red flag was symbolically destroyed at the start of the Emancipation Run, as it is today just before the start of the LBVCR in Hyde Park.
2016 marks the 120th anniversary of the very first Run. This year, 400 pristine pre-1905 vehicles participated in the historic 54-mile journey from Hyde Park in central London to the seafront in the Sussex resort of Brighton, cheered and supported all the way by enthusiastic onlookers.
To put this remarkable achievement into context, back in 1896 when the first Emancipation Run took place, Grover Cleveland was the 24th President of the United States, and now we await with trepidation the inauguration of the 45th President. Back in the UK, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil was the British Prime Minister and Queen Victoria was on the throne.
But what relevance does this have to modern day motoring you may ask. Today we find ourselves in the grip of the race to cleaner energy with some manufacturers falling foul of regulations designed to protect the environment. Conversely we also hear rumblings of a return to coal powered energy in an attempt to debunk the environmental argument.
Nothing much has changed over the last 120 years because innovation is as key now as it was then. Whilst the vast majority of ‘Light Locomotives’ were powered by the internal combustion engine, but some were also powered by steam and still others, surprisingly, by electricity. Read VMP’s blog on the P1, Porsche’s first automobile creation from 1898.
The London to Brighton isn’t just about the cars and the repealing of the Red Flag Act, it has become an institution all of its own. Why else would you get up before first light on a chilly Sunday morning, dress up in period costume (in some cases) and spend the day putt-putt-putting from London to Brighton? Even Eddie Jordan was there, see if you can spot him in the slideshow.
Here are a few more shots from this great event:
If you want to see more images, which by the way can be purchased, you can find them on:
Words by: John Mountney
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/John Mountney