The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run was founded in 1896 and was billed as “The First Legal Run of the New Automotor Carriages in England.” A group of 33 pioneering motorists set off from the Metropole Hotel in Central London on that first run, driving to the Sussex seaside resort and the Metropole Hotel of Brighton.
Only 14 of the starters actually completed the journey, and some evidence shows that one car, an electric model, was secretly taken by rail and covered with mud before crossing the finishing line.
The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run takes place on the first Sunday of each November and commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896, which celebrated the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act. That act raised the speed limit for “light locomotives” from 4 mph to 14 mph 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 actually abolished in 1878. However, 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 still is today just before the start of each November’s celebration run in Hyde Park.
The first formal re-enactment of the 1896 run was staged in 1927. The run has taken place every November since, with the exception of the war years and 1947, when petrol rationing was in force.
Hagerty has supported and sponsored the event for the last five years and is very proud of its association. The following video represents some great footage of the event over the years, and more information about the event can be found by clicking here.