De Dions recreate pioneering race

| 3 Jun 2011

On Sunday (5 June)  the De Dion bouton Club UK we be Commemorating the UK's first official motor race by recreating Charles Jarrott's run from Whitehall to Richmond Park, before heading  on to Brooklands where an original Victorian De Dion Bouton Trike will be placed on loan to the Museum for a period.

On Monday 29th November 1897, Charles Jarrott, who was present at the start of the Emancipation Run from Whitehall Place on 14 November 1896, organised and took part in what was the first English motor race – in which the the criteria for motor competition (ie racing against each other and the clock) were fulfilled. This was at the meeting of the Motor-Car Club which Jarrott organised.

The members of the club drove their machines from Whitehall Place London SW1 to Sheen House, Richmond Park, where the competition took place on arrival at the Sheen House track.

Contemporary reports state that there were heats, followed by a two races. In the first one Jarrott was against FT Bidlake, who was riding a motor tricycle, the other HO Duncan who was on a De Dion motor bicycle. Jarrott had both a De Dion Bouton motor bike and trike. So there were two races, each with just the two entrants. In the motor tricycle race, Bidlake beat Jarrott. In the motor bicycle race, Jarrott beat HO Duncan.

Afterwards the victorious motor bicyclists and tricyclists went against time for a mile, which Jarrott on the two-wheeler covered in 2 mind 8 secs. The unique photo above shows three machines (Jarrott on right, Bidlake centre) possibly a heat. A crowd of Motor-Car Club members, many of whom had driven their machines from Whitehall, witnessed the occasion.

A year later there was a similar meeting again at Sheen House, Richmond Park, with extensive races between the De Dion trikes, which by that time were being produced in England as well as France.

Sunday's parade will leave from the Metropole Hotel in Whitehall Place SW1, now the Corinthia. There will be a flagged ceremonial start at about 9.15am for about 30 De Dions making the run, including four Victorian Trikes and will represent the largest gathering since the period. 

From there they will drive to Richmond Park via the Thames and Putney Bridge to the Sheen Gate Park entrance passing the site of the now demolished Sheen House and the original track. After ceremonial laps of the Park, the vehicles will go on to Brooklands via Richmond Bridge, Hampton Court and Weybridge, arriving at the Surrep speedball by 3.30pm. 

The route book and background information can be found on

See for more history and details.