One of my favourite events in November is the annual Veteran Car Club London to Brighton run. I always thought it bizarre that a collection of old cars, many without even the slightest weather protection, should undertake a journey of about 60 miles in statistically one of the wettest months of the year. The reason that they make their annual run on the first Sunday of November every year, is to celebrate the abolition of the law in 1896 that required a man to walk in front of horseless vehicles carrying a red flag. The abolition came into effect on Saturday 14 November, though I can imagine some years that participants curse the fact that parliament didn’t abolish the act in mid June instead.
This year the run took place on Sunday 5 November, and conditions were perfect. The sky was a faded forget-me-not blue with the odd white cloud, and there was some real warmth in the sun.
My favourite place to watch the cars is on the green at Staplefield in West Sussex. The cars have covered more than half of the route by this point, which more or less follows the boundary between East and West Sussex once they get south of Gatwick Airport. As they come down the long hill from Handcross to Staplefield some of them get up a head of speed, and there is often some overtaking on the straight section of the road alongside the green.
Only cars built prior to January 1st 1905 are eligible to enter, but that doesn’t stop all manner of classic cars from coming along for the outing. When there aren’t any old cars passing there is a wide range of younger classic cars to admire adjacent to the route. Staplefield benefits from two pubs as well as a pop up refreshment stall, so there’s no shortage of coffee and bacon sandwiches to sustain the spectators. After Staplefield the route goes southwards through Cuckfield, passing quite close to several of our holiday cottages
, before continuing over the South Downs at Clayton and then down to Madeira Drive in Brighton.
One year I would love to travel the whole route in one of the veteran cars, I only hope that if I ever do the weather is as fantastic as it was this year.