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SNAPSHOT 40: A Motor Meet in 1903

It is fairly common practice these days for people together with their older motorcars to meet up on New Year’s Day at a suitable hostelry for a social gathering. In doing so they are re-enacting history, because such events took place when motoring was still in its infancy – as we see here.

These motorists with their cars, motorcycles, trikes and tricars are posed for the photographer outside the Lower Lode Hotel which stands by the River Severn just to the west of Tewkesbury and is still in business, appearing largely unchanged, at least externally. This occasion was organised by the then recently formed Cheltenham & Gloucester Automobile Club and it must have been deemed a suitable venue as they met here again in 1904, by which time the vehicles had registration number plates on them.

Although the cars are somewhat concealed by the vehicles and people in front of them, on the left is an Oldsmobile, then a 1900 pattern Benz ‘Velo’, two unidentified, and a vis-à-vis on the right which does not look quite right for a De Dion Bouton. The two- and three-wheelers are simply typical of the period although the trike that is one in from the right does have the attributes of a De Dion Bouton, but there is no guarantee that that is what it was sold as.

Disappearing on the extreme left is the Millionmobile forecar and trailer, along with its owner-constructer Edward Stretton standing behind it, which can be seen in a much better view at Snapshot Number 3. The image here came from an entirely different source – such are the workings of coincidence. The car to the fore is a Peugeot ‘Bébé’ two-seater, a 5hp single-cylinder vehicle that represents the firm’s first venture into the field of the front-engine voiturette.

Nobody thought to tell the cockerel in the foreground to stand still whilst the camera shutter operated at the usually leisurely rate that was the norm in those days, but at least the people apparently managed to avoid shivering and thus also becoming blurred.

There used to be an advert in the 1960s that said: The Esso Sign means ‘Happy Motoring’ – let’s hope that the latter part will apply in 2016, just as it appears to have done in 1903.


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