‘The fog still hung upon the Serpentine as Halloween turned into daybreak, as sunrise struggled to pierce the grey gloom of drifting mist. Gentlemen were plucking their collars upward, whilst Ladies fastened bonnets tightly under the chin, yet still the chill persisted. Across the lake the sound of carriages became even louder, oddly lacking the percussion of hooves in unison.
‘Instead mechanical growls, like miniature satanic mills, chattered ever closer – were these growls the beastly ‘light locomotives’ that had descended upon the capital, belching smoke, steam, soot and fury across the cobbled carriageways? As I strolled further toward this unholy racket a blasted horn sounded, and what appeared to be a flag descended to the gravel…. Suddenly a mechanical monster scuttled towards me at a terrifying 14mph the be-goggled driver furiously waving his limbs and uttering profanities as I (deftly) jumped aside. Steadying my hat I hoped that by the turn of the century this decadent Victorian fad would fizzle out…’
However, 119 years later at 06.54 prompt it all happened again. A colossal 607 entrants were booked on this year’s run for Veteran cars – all built before 1905 – and the London to Brighton Run is the annual largest gathering of Veteran cars in the world. And get this: as a spectator it’s totally free to view.
From the splendour of the Mall, the glamour of Westminster Bridge to the, um something of Crawley all the way south along the A23 to Madeira Drive in Brighton you can marvel at the ‘old crocks’ as the splutter past. If you finish the 60-mile journey before 16:30 you receive a finishers medal – this year, 342 Veterans were awarded the medal, with John Bentley in his 1903 Berliet being crowned first past the post.
So don’t forget to catch the event in 2016, and enjoy the gallery!