Horseless carriages return to South Kensington


London’s first car show is to be recreated at its birthplace, 120 years on. Iconic vehicles from the turn of the century will gather at Imperial College London for The Horseless Carriage Exhibition on 7-8 May to honour the original 1896 motor show.
This year’s exhibition forms part of the fifth annual Imperial Festival, a free weekend celebration of ground-breaking science and engineering, music and art, talks and workshops.

The 1896 Horseless Carriage Exhibition was hosted at the Imperial Institute – now part of Imperial College London – by the then newly created Motor Car Club and kick-started Britain’s motor industry. The recreation of this historic event will bring together a fascinating collection of static and working machinery from that era on Exhibition Road. 
The oldest vehicle on show is an accurate replica of the original 1885/’86 Benz Tricycle, widely considered to be the world’s first automobile, plus other notable examples of steam-powered vehicles, such as the 1896 Salvesen, and electric cars such as the 1901 Waverley Electric. City & Guilds College’s Brighton Run regular 1902 James & Browne ‘Boanerges’ (below) will also be in action.

Exhibit Director Nicholas Pellett said: “The original Horseless Carriage Exhibition represented a significant shift in the UK’s automobile history, making it potentially the most important car show to ever happen in the country. This unique showcase of innovation inspired people to see the potential in automotive transport, helping kick the industry into gear.”

Visitors to this year’s event will be able witness the spectacle of Victorian motoring on the roads of South Kensington, and the chance to see some of Imperial’s research into the future of transport. They can meet the students designing, building, testing and racing, zero-emission racing cars, and learn about the batteries that will power vehicles of tomorrow – plus miniature turbocharged engines.

The event is open from 12-6pm on the Saturday and 12-5pm on the Sunday, at Imperial College London’s South Kensington Campus, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2AZ (the nearest tubes are South Kensington or Gloucester Road).

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