Charles S Rolls campaigned for the emancipation of cars



The London to Brighton vintage car run celebrates the passing into law of the Emancipation Run from London to Brighton celebrated the passing into law of the "Locomotives on the Highway Act", which raised the speed limit for 'Light Locomotives' from 4 miles per hour to 14 mph and also abolished the requirement to be preceded by a man on foot carrying a red flag.


This is the reason this historic event is held in November rather than in summer and dates back to a day in November 1896, that day being Saturday 14th and it is now known as a red-letter day in the history of British motoring.  






The need for the man on foot to carry a red flag had actually been abolished in 1878, but the Locomotive Act was still widely known as the 'Red Flag Act'. At the start of the 1896 run, a red flag was symbolically destroyed by Lord Winchilsea.


The 1896 event was a demonstration that the automobile had come to stay. The organisers' instructions stated: "Owners and drivers should remember that motor cars are on trial in England and that any rashness or carelessness might injure the industry in this country."

The run of 33 cars was from the Metropole Hotel in London to the Metropole Hotel in Brighton.





Only 14 of the 33 starters reached Brighton, although it was hinted that one car was taken down to Brighton by train and covered with mud before crossing the finishing line!

Not all early Runs were to Brighton: Richmond, Southsea and Oxford were among the destinations and not all starts were at Hyde Park. In 1930, the Royal Automobile Club - as Britain's senior motoring club - took over the organisation. It was King Edward VII who, in 1907, commanded that the Automobile Club of Great Britain & Ireland should be known as the Royal Automobile Club


The run, with the exception of the war years and 1947, when petrol rationing was in force, has been run annually.


More interest than usual was aroused in 1971, when Her Majesty the Queen entered (but alas did not drive) a 70-year-old Daimler originally owned by her great grandfather King Edward VII and once driven by her father, King George VI. The car has been on the run and completed the 56 odd miles in the past few years driven by staff from the Royal household.




VCC's 1902 Wolseley in 1984



H H Prince Michael of Kent is the President of the Royal Automobile Club, (seen on the left driving the VCC's 1902 Wolseley in 1984) is a regular participant. He has driven a variety of vehicles, including the royal 1900 Daimler. Other vehicles include a 1903 De Dion Bouton, a 1899 Wolseley, a 1903 De Dietrich, a 1904 Mercedes and a 1903 Napier Racing car.
For Prince Michael's other activities - visit his Web site at




The Brighton Run now ranks as one of Britain's biggest motoring spectacles and attracts entrants from around the world, eager to take part.


The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is organised by Motion Works UK Ltd. for the Royal Automobile Club. Prior to 2004 the run was organised by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) for the RAC and then the International Motor Sports (IMS) for the MSA/RAC. Motion Works has been given contract for 5 years ending 2008.





Eligible cars


Only cars built before 1 January 1905 are eligible to take part, with the option for the organisers to invite a small number of vehicles out of period.

The Run attracts entrants from all over the world, with the biggest overseas entry coming from the United States, followed by France.





Route and Time Table



The following information is based on previous years. Various routes and start times have been used in the past.


The event is not a race. The cars are limited to an average speed of 20 mph and the only reward for a successful run is a Bronze Medal (awarded to all who reach Brighton before 16.30). The Veteran Car Run always takes place on the first Sunday in November each year.



The route keeps mainly to the A23 (London to Brighton Road) (from Westminster Bridge) From Hyde Park and Apsley Arch the run takes Hyde Park Corner, Constitution Hill, Birdcage Walk, Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge or in the past, Hyde Park Corner, Grosvenor Place, Victoria Street, Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge. On the A23 the route passes through South London, Thornton Heath, Croydon, Purley, Redhill, Gatwick and Crawley for the official coffee stop.


Please note: - The drive down Constitution Hill and in front of the Palace is for Veteran Cars only. Constitution Hill and The Mall are closed to normal traffic every Sunday.


The route leaves the A23 for the B2114 to pass through Handcross Hill, Hammer Hill, then B2115 for Whitemans Green, B2036 for Cuckfield, A273 for Burgess Hill and rejoin the A23 at Pyecome.


The official finish is at Preston Park (not to far into Brighton) where the cars are required to stop and then its on to the sea front and the "Finish Line", at Madeira Drive, Brighton.





Approximate Distance = 54 miles


Time Table

First group of cars leaves Hyde Park at 07:15 (2005) (or in the past 07:30) and with the last group leaving before 08:30. Each group consist of 10 to 16 cars with an interval of 2 minutes between the groups. Older the car the earlier it leaves.


At the official coffee stop at Crawley, the first car arrives about 09:00. For some, there are many coffee stops on route.


The cars start to arrive on the sea front, at Brighton, from about 10:40 and then throughout the day till the check-in closing time of 16:30, it has been known to be nearer 5pm when the last car arrives (in darkness).


Except for the start time, all times are approximate.

Please note: - Some maps may show the start time as 07:30, please check the "Next Run" page for the starting time.





For a readable and printable copy - click here


The maps (Route - Start & Coffee Stop) are in PDF format and to be read and printed using ADOBE ACROBAT.  The road map is based on a map produced by MSA(2000), the start




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