The history behind ‘The Ellis Journey’ is that on the 5th July 1895 The Hon. Evelyn Ellis set off on his newly acquired French built, 4 horse power Panhard et Levassor, from Micheldever Railway Station. He was accompanied by another motoring pioneer, Frederick Simms. They left the station at precisely 9.26am and Simms recorded every detail of the journey on the old London coaching road, travelling via Basingstoke, Hatch, Blackwater, Bagshot, Virginia Water and Englefield Green. Arriving at Ellis’s riverside home in Datchet at 5.40pm. His journey took 8 hours and 14 minutes.
The Journey was deliberately made in contravention of the legal speed limit as they averaged almost 10mph without the required attendant walking in front of the car with a red flag. They should not have exceeded 4 mph on any part of the journey. Ellis had hoped to be arrested so that he could make a test case and repeal the law. But the police stayed away.
Image courtesy of the Science Museum
The Historic Journey - July 1895
A TRIP IN A ROAD LOCOMOTIVE.
To the Editor of the Saturday Review.
London, 11 July, 1895.
Sir,- It was with much interest that I read the article concerning horseless carriages in your issue of 6 July. I have since travelled for the first time in this country in one of our Daimler motor carriages, and I think it may be of interest to your readers to hear something about my experiences on the trip.
I started on Friday last week with my friend, Mr Evelyn Ellis, from Micheldever, which is one station from Winchester on the London and South-Western line. Datchet was our destination. During the previous night a long and much-wanted steady rainfall had laid the dust on the roads, and thus we had every prospect of an enjoyable journey. We set forth at exactly 9.26 a.m., and made good progress on the well-made old London coaching road. The sky appeared somewhat overclouded, but the easterly winds keeping off the rain, and the roads being in good condition, it was delightful travelling on that fine summer morning. We were not quite without anxiety as to how the horses we might meet would behave towards their new rivals, but they took it very well, and out of 133 horses we passed on the road only two little ponies did not seem to appreciate the innovation. We passed at 11 a.m. through Basingstoke and arrived at Maplederwellhatch at 11.20 a.m., where we stopped to refresh ourselves and the engine, the refreshment of the latter consisting in cooling water. We left Maplederwellhatch and its astonished inhabitants at 11.50, arriving at Blackwater at 1.32. On our way we passed a great many vehicles of all kinds, as well as cyclists. We left Blackwater at 1.55, riding up some very steep hills on our way to Bagshot. This pretty country place we passed at exactly 2.47, and met on our way to charming little Sunningdale several officers on horseback, apparently engaged in surveying duty. Meanwhile the sun brightened up the scenery all around us, and it was a very pleasing sensation to go along the delightful roads towards Virginia Water at speeds varying from three to twenty miles per hour.
Our iron horse behaved splendidly. Virginia Water was reached at 3.28. There we took our luncheon, and also fed our engine with a little oil. We left again at 4.30, arriving at Engerfield Green at 4.47, and we remained there till 5.25. Going down the steep hill leading to Windsor, we passed through Datchet, and arrived right in front of the entrance hall of Mr Ellis’s house at Datchet at 5.40, thus completing our most enjoyable journey of fifty-six miles, the first ever made by a petroleum motor carriage in this country, in 5 hours 32 minutes, exclusive of stoppages. The average speed we attained was 9.84 miles per hour, the usual travelling speed being from 8 to 12 miles per hour.
In every place we passed through, we were not un-naturally the objects of a great deal of curiosity. Whole villages turned out to behold, open-mouthed, the new marvel of locomotion. The departure of coaches was delayed to enable their passengers to have a look at our horseless vehicle, while cyclists would stop to gaze enviously at us as we surmounted with ease some long and (to them) tiring hill.
Mr Ellis’s Daimler motor carriage, one of which, as will be remembered gained the first prize in the recent carriage race, is a neat and compact four-wheeled dog-cart with accommodation for four persons and two portmanteaux. The consumption of petroleum is little over a halfpenny per mile, and there is no smoke, heat or smell, the carriage running smoothly and without any vibration. The simple and ingenious gear puts the carriage under complete control. The steering is likewise extremely simple, and either of the two powerful independent brakes can bring the carriage to a complete standstill within little over a yard. – I am, yours faithfully,
FREDERICK R SIMMS.