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The nineteenth-century

motorist project

iln 18981128 p729 crop.jpg

Truly a horseless carriage, and being used essentially as a freak show, getting attention for advertising purposes. The soap is Sunlight’s. Image: Illustrated London News, 28 Nov. 1896, p. 729


This is a project to share thoughts on the who, the why and the how of the earliest of motorists. The 1890s and early 1900s was a time when ‘motoring’ was seen as much as a sport as a means of transport. ‘Motoring’ (or ‘moting’ as it was often called then) is taken in its widest sense here, and so means anything self-propelled. Motor cars and motorcycles were produced in a manner of shapes and sizes: there was yet to be any standardisation of design or mechanical layout.

What's new


Albert Charles ('Charlie') Hills (1864-1952) took part in the Thousand Mile Trial of 1900, accompanying R.E. Phillips on a 'Petit Duc' Mors. He left his early motoring memoirs, now transcribed.

See The Who



Updated list of nineteenth-century motorists published - now at 6,063

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Updated list of nineteenth-century motorists published - now at 5,400

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Updated list of nineteenth-century motorists published - now at 3,000

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Errata and Addenda to Craig Horner (ed.), The Cheshire Motor Vehicle Registrations, 1904-07 (2019)

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Publication of 

Craig Horner, The emergence of bicycling and automobility in Britain (Bloomsbury, 2021)

Information here


First list of nineteenth-century motorists published

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Mary Eliza Kennard (1850-1936) was a noted motorist and motorcyclist from 1899. She followed the Thousand Mile Trial of 1900 in her De Dion.

See The Who

c1900- Mary Eliza Kennard resize.jpg


Henry Benjamin Merton (1848-1929) had a ¾hp De Dion tricycle in about 1896 which he attempted to adapt to electric ignition. He features in the autobiography of Montague Grahame-White.

See The Who

henry b merton from Source -  facing pag


Aubrey Richard Langton (1880-1957) applied to join the Circle of Nineteenth-Century Motorists in 1932 but his application was rejected. He claimed to have driven a 1½hp  Ormonde motor bicycle and a 6hp belt-driven Benz prior to 1900.

See The Who

ad for Ormonde from Grace's Guide.jpg


Capt Arthur James Mayne (1870-1947) applied to join the Circle of Nineteenth-Century Motorists in 1930, claiming to be the first in England to ride the newly imported Hildebrand and Wolfmüller motor cycle, in 1894. See The Who



Arthur Percy Strohmenger (1876-1943) applied to the Circle of Nineteenth-Century Motorists in 1928. He had driven Sperry and Elieson electric motor cars prior to 1900. See The Who

strohmeyer courtesy linda dudley mutch.j


Charabanc advertisement from 1900 in the cycling press. See The What

balmoral charabanc.jpg


Harold Keates Hales (1868-1942) was a member of the Circle of Nineteenth-Century Motorists, and drove a Beeston Humber and an International Benz before 1900. See The Who



Pennington's Autocar of 1897 is most famously pictured with nine people aboard... See The What



An autocar for desert use, made by Coulthards of Preston in 1897, intended for Australia. See The What

autocar for desert work 6.2.1897.jpg


Cartoonists in magazines (here, G.H. Jalland) based some of their drawings on real vehicles, here a 1895 Kane-Pennington. See The What



The Circle of Nineteenth-Century Motorists was set up in 1928 and only allowed membership for men who had driven before April 1900. 

The entertainment was quite shocking...

See The Who

c19cm at dinner, date unknown, from dbw.


Samuel Okell (1838-1932)

was probably the first to drive a motor car in Cheshire

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samuel okell crop 3.jpg


Walter Richard Randolph (b. c1881)

Walter applied to join the Circle of Nineteenth-Century Motorists on 10 January 1929 and was elected on 30 January. Being elected was a serious business - he had to provide evidence he had driven a motor vehicle prior to April 1900. 

See The Who

wr randolph, supp by barry sahb.png
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