Drive a modern car from London to Brighton and the journey ought to take less than two hours. Attempt the trip in a pioneering veteran car with little or no weather protection and relying on technology that’s at least 110 years old and, well, it’s going to take somewhat longer.
So for the fearless drivers and their passengers heading from the capital to the coast on the first Sunday in November, a halfway halt is a welcome opportunity to refettle their cars and warm themselves with a hot drink. As has now become a tradition, the participating cars in the annual Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run supported by Hiscox – a Royal Automobile Club event – will be taking a well-earned break at the Honda Gatwick dealership in Crawley.
Upon reaching the half-way point of the run, participants will be able to enjoy the hospitality of The Harrods Stop at Crawley. The iconic Green Men from the famous Knightsbridge department store will welcome guests to enjoy a full service of refreshments from the Harrods Banqueting team, providing treats straight out of the popular Harrods Food Halls. Guests will be entertained by a lively jazz band and served by the ‘Harrods Butlers’.
James Healy, Director of Store Operations, commented: “The Run is a great opportunity to celebrate veteran vehicles in the UK and, for us at Harrods, to celebrate our history as a store. Harrods has been serving customers across London for over 160-years, and it’s fantastic to have our veteran vehicles back on the open road.”
There will be no public access at Honda Gatwick, so the next stop for the cars is Crawley High Street. Here Crawley Borough Council has organised spectator viewing points, allowing visitors to see the cars close up as they prepare for the trip across the Downs to Madeira Drive. The High Street will have a full PA system with driver interviews broadcast live while Gatwick Airport will be giving hand warmers to spectators and also providing a genuine veteran car, courtesy of the nearby Filching Manor Museum, in which they can be photographed.
Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development at Crawley Borough Council, said: “Spectators love to watch the Veteran Car Run in the High Street and view the ‘old crocks’ up close. This has been a tradition for decades and makes Crawley the vibrant and exciting halfway stop of this fantastic event. I am delighted that Gatwick Airport is helping to bring this to the High Street.”
Melanie Wrightson, Community Engagement Manager, Gatwick Airport, added: “The London to Brighton corridor is an important UK transport link with Gatwick uniquely placed at the centre of this growth corridor. We are delighted to be sponsoring this year’s Run and are particularly pleased the event will be returning to Crawley, the home town of Gatwick. We wish all the participants a successful event and applaud the pioneering spirit of all those involved in helping to make this event possible.”
The High Street also marks the start of the Chopard Regularity Run, the only competitive element of the event. Finishing 13 miles away in Burgess Hill, the Regularity Run requires drivers to get as close to a chosen average speed as possible. The first cars are due to arrive at the High Street at around 8.15am with the last car leaving at around 1.45pm.
This year’s Run marks the 120th anniversary of the first ‘Emancipation Run’ from London to Brighton, which was held in November 1896. It celebrated the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act which raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4mph to 14mph and abolished the need for the vehicles to be preceded by a man carrying a red flag. More than 425 three- and four-wheelers – all built before 1905 – will take part in the Run, with the first cars leaving Hyde Park as dawn breaks just before 7am on Sunday 6th November.
The Run is just one element of the Royal Automobile Club’s London Motor Week – a seven-day celebration of motoring, which includes an art exhibition, motoring lectures, a motoring forum and a motoring book awards evening. The penultimate event in the week is the free-to-view Regent Street Motor Show, on Saturday 5th November, which turns London’s premier shopping street into a motoring showcase that puts the spotlight on veterans and moderns alike. Then just before 7am on Sunday 6th November the Club’s premier event, the 120th anniversary Bonhams Veteran Run supported by Hiscox, gets underway.