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London to Brighton Museum Blog - November 2017

As many of you may know, the start of November marks the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. This year on the 5th of November over 400 veteran cars (pre-1905) journeyed from Hyde Park, completing their 60 mile route in Brighton.

A commemoration of the Emancipation Run, first held in 1896, when speed limit laws and the Red Flag act were abolished, the London to Brighton run is one of the longest running motoring events. As with any big event, it is all in the preparation. The Museum entered 6 vehicles so the workshop spent many week prior to the Run preparing all the cars. In the week running up to the event, whilst the workshop organised ‘driving lessons’ for our participants to get used to their cars – over in the Curatorial department we were producing guides and information packs for participants and staff members alike! By Saturday we were off, down to London to meet and greet participants and make sure all the cars arrived safely, parking them underneath the hotel.

Once everyone had arrived we were able to brief all the drivers and support staff on the Saturday evening, but there wasn’t much time for sightseeing with a 5am alarm called planned for the next morning!

Up early in the morning and preparations were underway in the underground hotel carpark, where our talented team of mechanics are getting all the cars started and ensuring our drivers are able to get themselves off to Hyde Park for the start of the run.

Between 7 and 8:45am the cars left Hyde Park on the first leg of their journey and while the mechanics followed the route as support vehicles, I was taken to the Half Way point to host breakfast. Whilst we were very lucky with the weather – it was cold but clear and sunny – we were not so lucky with the route…

This year the RAC had made alterations for the route due to road works, however, as the drivers started to trickled in to half way it sounded like there had been a lot of traffic on the new route. Because of this the last car didn’t arrive at half way until well after mid-day.

But once all the drivers were refuelled and their cars had been checked over once more, they were back on their way to Brighton! I then made my way down to Brighton – in a more comfortable modern car. I wasn’t able to see our first two cars finishing, but I caught up with the last few as the sun started to go down.

The work didn’t end there. Once all our drivers had been returned to their modern cars, we had the task of loading up the veteran cars into their transported again. In the dark with limited lighting as the cars had no headlamps, it was a challenge, but we were able to get the last car loaded up by about 7 o’clock.

After a very long day, the team stayed over in Brighton – waking up refreshed on Monday and ready to drive back to the Museum and unload the cars again. While the rest of the team is more versed in the event, this was my second time doing the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. It’s hard work, but it’s good fun, I even managed to snag a selfie with some of our VIP drivers – Charley Boorman and Damon Hill. For now though, everything is a bit more back to normal – until next year!