Two of the world’s greatest motoring institutions are uniting to honour the 125th anniversary of the famous Emancipation Run next month.
It was on a wet Saturday 14 November 1896 that a group of intrepid early motorists set off from London to Brighton to celebrate the passing into law of the Locomotive on the Highway Act.
This seminal government legislation increased the speed limit from 4mph to 14mph, effectively ending centuries of horse-drawn transport and allowing motorised vehicles ‘the freedom of the road’ – hence the celebrations.
The Autocar magazine, founded a year earlier, also acclaimed the major significance of that liberalising moment – and the tour to Brighton – with a special ‘red-letter-day’ issue, printed entirely in red ink.
‘Today, November 14th 1896, is a red-letter day, not only in the history of automobilism, but in that of England, for it marks the throwing open of the highways and byeways of our beautiful country to those who elect to travel thereupon in carriages propelled by motors, instead of in a horse-drawn vehicle or upon bicycles,’ declared its prophetical front page.
The epoch-defining Emancipation Run, of course, is still honoured every November by the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run organised by the Royal Automobile Club and, harking back to those first celebrations in 1896, this year’s very special 125th anniversary event will be once again supported by Autocar.