Rolls’ Thousand Mile Trial…

Posted: August 28, 2021 in Obscurities, Who,What,Where & When...?
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CS Rolls passing a group of spectators during his winning drive of a Panhard 12HP during the  1000 Mile Trial, 23 April to 12 May 1900…

Charles Stewart Rolls was a pioneer English motorist, an aviator and founding partner of Rolls Royce together with Sir FH Royce in 1906. Prior to founding that iconic company Rolls’ business assembled and sold French cars, including Panhards.

rolls 2
Rolls, Panhard 12Hp (Getty)

Rolls entered a Panhard in the 1000 Mile Trial which was the first public demonstration of the potential of the car for long distance travel in the UK. 65 vehicles started, 23 finished the course which started in London, headed west to Bristol, then north to Edinburgh before returning to London.

Etcetera: ‘The Motor Car – One Thousand Mile Trial in England’…

From ‘The Brisbane Courier’ (Australia) Saturday 4 August 1900.

It’s very interesting to read this article, published in Australia but clearly written by a journalist on-the-spot in Britain – by whom I know not. Of historic interest are the observations about the evolution from horses and horse-drawn vehicles to motorcars.

‘…The principal object of the organisers was to prove what it was considered the people of this country need to be to be taught-that the motor car is, even in its present state of development, a serious and trustworthy means of locomotion; not a toy dangerous and troublesome alike to the public and its owner, but a vehicle under as perfect control as a Bath chair, capable of accompanying long journeys in all weathers and over every kind of road with ease and safety, destined to take its place with the train and bicycle as a common object of daily life, and as superior to them, in many respects, as they are superior to the horse and cart. In so far as any demonstration ever brings conviction to indifferent or hostile minds the tour must be considered amply to have achieved its object’.

‘The trial, in fact, from the point of view of those who have taken part in it, has been entirely satisfactory. It is a considerable achievement for fifty new-fangled vehicles to have travelled nearly 1100 miles in eleven days through a densely-populated country at a speed seldom, if ever, below the legal limit, with no incident more untoward than the deaths of one dog and one unmanageable horse, whose leg, coming in contact with a passing car, received such injuries that he had to be destroyed’.

‘The mechanical results of the trial have been very much what they were expected to be. That is to say, the established type of machine has proved itself entirely trustworthy, and between the Daimler, Napier, and Panhard motors there has been, in the matter of “staying power,” practically nothing to choose. Of the cars which entered, only four were driven by any other motive power than petroleum spirit.

Among the large machines the more prominent have been the Hon. C. S. Rolls’ racing 12 horse-power Panhard, the 12 horse-power Daimlers owned by the Hon. John Scott-Montagu, M.P., Mr. J. R. Hargreaves, and Mr. J. A. Holder, and Mr. E. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier. In the 6 horse-power class the Daimlers and Panhards have been well represented, and with regard to these it may be said that, apart from special racing machines, the English-built cars have shown themselves to be at least as good as the French, and most people admit that the English workmanship is the better of the two. But it is a regrettable fact that English manufacturers still have to go to France for some of the most essential parts. Our spring and axle builders do not yet appreciate the opening that lies before them.’

 

‘The results of the hill-climbing trials, when published, will prove a better means than any other for comparing the respective merits of the cars from the purchaser’s point of view. To speak generally, the best cars of each class climbed astonishingly well, though there were probably few drivers who had no moments of anxiety on the way from Kendal to Carlisle. The condition of the roads on three out of the four test hills was fortunately good. Indeed, the roads throughout, with the exception of that between Manchester and Preston, which was execrable, have been in a satisfactory state of repair, though often muddy and greasy. There can be no doubt that, if the road authorities were provided out of the rates with solid-tired motor cars instead of horses and traps, the immediate improvement in the roads would be so great as to be well worth the increased cost of the vehicle.’

‘Speed pure and simple is in this country a secondary consideration, but, by way of fully testing all the powers of the cars, an optional trial of speed was carried out on Friday in Welbeck Park. The following speeds were attained by the fastest cars:  Min. Sec. The Hon. C. S. Rolls’s 12 horse-power Panhard . 1 35 3-5 Mr. Ed. Kennard’s 8 horse-power Napier and Mr. Mark Mayhew’s 8 horse-power Panhard . 2 1 3-5 The Ariel Motor Company’s tricycle, with trailer . 2 2 1-5 Mr. T. A. Holder’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 17 1-5  The Hon. John Scott-Montagu’s 12 horse-power Daimler. 2 18. The distance was one mile, with flying start and the figures given are the mean of one run over the course in each direction. The road, which had slight gradients, was in good condition.’

‘If I were asked what had chiefly impressed me in the course of this journey of 1000 miles, I should say that it was the certainty that the next few years will see an enormous increase in the use of motor cars. The new method of locomotion has been taken seriously, and the friendly interest in it displayed by the thousands who have witnessed this trial will greatly facilitate its progress. At present good motor cars are somewhat expensive and difficult to procure at a moment’s notice. They also require for their maintenance in working order the services of a professional driver or of a mechanically-minded amateur. But these are difficulties which competition, the first place, and familiarity, in the second, will speedily overcome. There are in the country at this moment far more motor cars than might be supposed-the indifference to them of the horses in many districts, is already very remarkable and it is impossible to believe that, so soon as they become cheaper, their numbers will not largely increase.’

Indeed!

Credits…

Science and Society Picture Library, Getty Images, The Brisbane Courier

Tailpiece…

Unfortunately none of these shots Getty captions indicate the exact locale. A bumma.

Finito…

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