Wedding Car hits the headlines.
Revealed…via The Times, Daily Mail and Daily Express this week was the story of what is thought to have been the world’s earliest wedding car which is on show at the Haynes International Motor Museum. A fascinating story and one of the great parts of our Flamingo PR job with visitor attractions is the sheer variety of things we get to learn on a day to day basis!
The photograph, taken in Somerset in 1903, is believed to depict the first documented use of the wedding car in Britain. The extraordinary piece of matrimonial history was pieced together by researchers at Haynes International Motor Museum in Sparkford, where the car is on show – and still welcoming newlyweds 110 years on.
With the first motor vehicles only appearing on British roads in the mid-1890s, the car was still very much a luxury item in 1903 with only a few hundred dotted around the country.
Affectionately known as ‘Fiery Liz’, this 1897 Daimler Wagonette was made at the Motor Mills factory in Coventry and would have cost £373 when new (around £40,000 in today’s money).
It was donated to Haynes International Motor Museum by Bristol Museum and so began a detective story to reveal its extraordinary role in British social history.
Today the car remains at the heart of the institution of marriage. With up to 25 couples a year using Haynes International Motor Museum for their weddings and receptions, brides and grooms are still able to get their picture taken sitting on ‘Fiery Liz’.
In addition to her claim to fame as Britain’s first wedding car, Fiery Liz, who had a top speed of just 12mph, went on to have a rich history remaining in daily use until 1929 and clocking up 500,000 miles in the process.
Much of that mileage involved ferrying passengers from Burnham-on-Sea railway station to the Royal Clarence Hotel as well as a spell as a school bus.
1903 was a year for many other motoring firsts in Britain as well. The driving licence was introduced and was available for a fee of five shillings (25p) across the counter at Post Offices.
The speed limit was raised to 20mph with heavy fines for speeding and reckless driving.
The Motor Car Act 1903 was also passed, stipulating all vehicles had to be registered and display registration marks in a prominent position. The fee was 20 shillings (£1). The first registration marks consisted of one letter and one number, the first (A1) was issued by London County Council. Curiously it would be another decade before the first roadside petrol pump was introduced.
More petrol-head facts to follow!