Even if the vehicles taking part in this Sunday’s London to Brighton Commemorative Run travel well below the posted speed limit, they’d be racing at a breakneck pace if it was around the dawn of the 20th century.
On Nov. 1, the Old English Car Club’s Vancouver Coast Branch hosts its annual run, which starts at the east Maple Ridge A&W location and finishes at the Fox and Fiddle Pub on the Langley Bypass.
The Fraser Valley cruise commemorates the U.K. “London to Brighton Vintage Car Run” which takes place the same day.
The first U.K. London to Brighton Vintage car Run was held Nov. 14, 1896, and was originally called “The Motor Car Tour to Brighton,” noted Malcolm Tait, a member of the organizing committee.
The run celebrates the repeal of the British law that limited vehicle speed to four miles an hour (6.4 kph) and required motorized vehicles to be led by a person waving a red flag.
Four mph was considered the pace of a fast walking person.
The new speed limit was 14 mph (or 22.5 kph).
The vehicles involved in the modern-day, U.K. version of the run are limited to those made in 1904 or earlier and last year there were 620 cars registered.
Closer to home, the run welcomes British cars of any vintage.
The chair of this year’s run is Maple Ridge British car buff Walter Reynolds, the proud owner of 1963 Rover P5 3 Litre. Reynolds has taken part in the run for the past 13 years, and has been a member of the event’s organizing committee for the past four.
So why did he take on the role of chair? “No one else volunteered,” he answered.
It’s only natural that the England-born Reynolds has had a near lifelong interest in British cars – he noted that his first car was a “black 1950-something Ford Prefect.”
A member of the Old English Car Club (OECC), Vancouver Coast Branch, Reynolds said British vehicles are “different” and “attract attention wherever we drive them.”
“Someone always knows of a person in their life, a relative or a friend, who owned one of what you are driving,” Reynolds said, adding that the OECC’s London to Brighton Commemorative Run is “our way of celebrating what is a British landmark motoring event that has been held every year since 1896, except for the World War years.”
The highest total for the Canadian run has been roughly 60 vehicles, and who gets involved is often dictated by Mother Nature.
The beginning of November has “always been iffy,” Tait remarked. “A lot of the convertible drivers don’t like the wet weather,” he said.
The OECC Vancouver Coast Branch has been holding a celebratory run since 1996, the 100th anniversary of the U.K. run, and was started by then branch member Roy Wilkins.
For the first 12 years the cruise was called the “Ladner to Bellingham Run” with the route going between those communities.
Due to delays at the border crossing, the route was altered to remain in the Lower Mainland and the event’s name also changed to reflect this.
The starting point being north of the Fraser River adds a fresh new wrinkle, Tait said.
“The idea was to do something a little bit different,” said Tait, the owner of a 1970 Rover 2000. “We’ve always done it on the south side of the river and this offers different roads, and the drivers will see a bit of different scenery.”
This Sunday, rubber will start rolling on the road starting at 10:10 a.m from the A&W at 228th Street and Lougheed Hwy. The convoy will travel through Maple Ridge, Mission, Abbotsford, and Langley before ending up at the Fox and Fiddle.
Cars should start arriving at the Fox and Fiddle from 12:30 p.m. “We expect at least 30 cars of many different types ages, shapes and sizes, all British, of course,” Tait said.
Registration is $5, with 100 per cent of proceeds going to the Friends In Need Food Bank. Cars taking part should arrive between 9 and 9:30 a.m.
PHOTO: London to Brighton Commemorative Run organizer Walter Reynolds is the proud owner of this 1963 Rover P5 3 Litre.