First Car Ride in Britain
Sad to say that Britain was rather behind Germany and France in particular as regards development of the horseless carriage, thus the Hon Evelyn Ellis had to purchase and import a French Panhard-Levassour in order to become our first motorist. His car was taken by train to Micheldever in Hampshire from where the owner and his friend Frederick Simms drove to Datchet on July 6 1895.
Ellis was not just breaking new ground, he was determined to break the law, specifically that restricting motor-vehicles to a maximum speed of 4mph with a red-flag bearer before them. Ellis the speed fiend reached a daring 20mph, and only according to Simms frightened two of the 133 horses they encountered.
Contemporary drivers will envy Ellis his traffic-free roads, or at least car-free, and be amazed that the cost per mile in petrol was 1/2d, roughly 0.25p. They won’t envy him and his passenger the ride in a car without rubber tyres.
Ellis was a pioneer, quickly followed by dozens then hundreds of others. The law on speeding was changed the following year, but not before the first speeding fine had been imposed in January, and even before that the first motoring offences had occurred in October 1895.
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