First Motoring Offences in Britain


History on 17th October

First Motoring Offences in Britain

Farnham, Surrey The 17th of October 1895 AD

With fewer than 20 motor vehicles on the road in Britain by 1895, policing them so as to avoid collisions and traffic problems was not the complex matter of contemporary times, though obviously frightening the horses was forbidden. And given that the speed limit had been set at 4mph (a brisk walking speed), and it was still necessary to have a person walking ahead of the vehicle, monitoring speeding was not a particularly tough ask. Thus the first motoring offences in this country – two committed by the same heinous villains – were for falling foul of bureaucracy.
John Henry Knight and his friend James Pullinger were trying out Mr Knight’s three-wheeler, made to his own design, on the quiet roads of Farnham in Surrey. But the reckless Knight had failed to obtain the necessary licence for his vehicle; and Pullinger, who was at the tiller (rather than the steering wheel) was driving at an hour when according to local bylaws no motorised transport was permitted on the roads. The madness. Were they flogged I hear you cry? Were they hurled into prison and the key thrown away? No, the magistrates, perhaps taking into account that this was a first offence (for the two automobilists and indeed for automobiles), fined them half-a-crown (two shillings and sixpence, or 12.5p in new money) plus costs.
In France in 1895 the first Paris-Bordeaux-Paris rally was held. The winner travelled at an average of more than 13mph (surely it would be impossible to breathe at such velocity?), i.e. three times the permitted speed limit in Britain. One sometimes wonders if deep down our authorities still have the same attitude to the car as their predecessors in 1895.

More famous dates here

9763 views since 13th October 2009

Brit Quote:
I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people - Isaac Newton
More Quotes

On this day:
First Actress on British Stage - 1660, First Recorded UFO in Britain - 1733, Bonnie Prince Charlie Turns Back at Derby - 1745, Britain’s First Heavyweight Boxing Champ - 1863, Opening of the Clifton Suspension Bridge - 1864, RAC Established - 1897, John Lennon shot dead - 1980
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages