SEAMS News Archives

Winter Meeting: January 21st

We were fortunate to have one of our club  members, David Ralph along to give an illustrated talk on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. David has been involved with stationary engines on and off for many years but is probably best known for his veteran and vintage cars. He has owned and restored many over the years including a Guy bus which took part in the commercial run under David’s and brother Tim’s ownership. David has also owned two veteran cars both of which have taken part in the annual London to Brighton run, the first a Humberette and currently a Wolseley single cylinder car.

The run, held since 1927 celebrates the raising of the speed limit from 4 to 12 mph in 1896 when the first ‘emancipation’ run was held. The 4 mph limit  effectively stifled the development of the motor car in the UK and is the reason many of the early cars on the run tend to be foreign.  David explained the terminology of veteran cars showing examples of each type going on to the history of the run, how it started and what cars are eligible. It was the 1953 film Genevieve that made the event famous and it became acceptable to restore and own a veteran car. Prices of eligible cars (built before 1905) have been soaring ever since

David also explained the organisation of the run, how the cars set off from Hyde park in batches and how the first part of the run is over closed roads. Amongst the traffic of the open roads is where the fun starts (and the breakdowns begin) as South London is negotiated. For less powerful cars on the steeper inclines it’s a case of setting the engine speed, (no throttle just advance retard)  jump out and walk up beside the car. The part we know just south of Staplefield is now one way making it a little easier for the faster cars to pass the slower cars on the uphill stretch. Into Brighton and its handy to be able to use the bus lanes to avoid modern  traffic.

David hasn’t entered his own car for a few years but travels on a friends car which he maintains. The reason is the increasing entry fee which has to cover the cost of running the event, such things as having to pay for the street lighting in Hyde Park for the start. There is also a charge made for parking of tender vehicles at Brighton.

David clearly knows his stuff and gave and interesting and informative talk to a pretty full house at Faygate.