The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run – four men, a dog and 60 miles in a 1904 Lanchester 

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The whole point of the ‘London to Brighton’ is to celebrate the end of the 1865 Locomotive Act which, among other things, mandated a flag-carrier to walk in front of any motor car to warn pedestrians and horse riders of its approach. Indeed, the event’s ceremonial start includes the tearing in half of one such red flag, a poignant reminder of the liberation we commemorate on this annual ‘Emancipation Run’.

But it’s precisely this point at which I understand the initial scepticism and fear with which road locomotives were met when they first reached the British Isles. I clutch a coffee as chaos plays out on the banks of the Serpentine, London’s sleepy Sunday decorum punctured by steam whistles and a motorist bellowing “Make way!” as he pilots his 19th century machine through the crowds.


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