PEOPLE two or three miles ahead came to doors of house or piled into the streets to speculate upon the approaching noise. Some took it be the rumbling of thunder, some put it down to an extra powerful set of steam cultivators, and some were led to surmise that a goods train had taken the road instead of the orthodox track!
Skegness Herald 1899
The thing ” that sounded like thunder, or a goods train, or steam cultivators, and brought people out into the streets was a motor car !
But it was a very special one. The first in Skegness, in fact. Its momentous arrival in the town in1899.
The vehicle was a Daimler, purchased as a ” public road conveyance” by a small syndicate of well-known Skegnessians,” Messrs. “Teddy” Kirkby, Joe Wingate, Richard Lloyd and W. T. Berry.
The vehicle had two speeds–slow and stop. The latter were very numerous ! Apparently it had another endearing characteristic in that it needed frequent oiling which, for reasons unknown, was best accomplished in a hotel yard.
This might perhaps explain why the account of the vehicle’s journey from London to Skegness on 26th January, 1899, is one long series of hotel stops.
“Behaved well ”
For example: ” The car and its occupants having been duly `damped down,’ the journey was resumed to the Cock Hotel at Hitchin, thence on to Biggleswade (at which place one member of the party was able to guide the driver to the best spot in the town for oiling purposes), and finally on to St Neots, where the night was spent.”
Anyway, the car finally arrived in Skegness — after two days — and, according to the report: ” The scenes can be better imagined than described . . . After undergoing the critical inspection of the admiring multitude the vehicle was taken into the Lion Hotel Yard to be oiled, while its occupants adjourned to the hostelry of that name.
Later in the same year the vehicle, known as ” So Bracing,” made trips to Nottingham Goose Fair and to the Dukeries. She behaved well — ” with the exception of an inordinate thirst for oil, which necessitated a pull up in the yard of every hotel of consequence (and some of lesser consequence) ” — and occasionally achieved a speed of 15 miles per hour.
That speed was looked upon as something exciting and motor car drivers as adventurers in the days of 1899.In his opening paragraph the writer compared the first motorists in Skegness with “those who have flown to Australia and across the Atlantic.”