Sheila and Steve Kaufman from Ladner and their 1962 MG. Dan Ferguson Black Press

London-to-Brighton commemorative run from South Delta to Langley

British car fans salute significant moment in motoring history

The London to Brighton Commemorative Run rolled into Langley on a bright Sunday afternoon, perfect weather for the many convertibles among the more than 60 vehicles taking part in the 23rd running of the annual event that pays homage to a significant moment in motoring history.

That was in 1896, when the British Motor Car Club celebrated legislation raising the legal speed limit from 4mph to 14mph by holding what was then described as a motor car tour from London to Brighton.

The route for the Canadian version took the convoy on a loop starting from the heritage airport in Delta and ending in downtown Langley.

Walter Reynolds, the chairman of the Vancouver Coast Branch of the Old English Car Club (OECC) that operates the run, said the route used to cross the border, but rising congestion did it in.

“In those days, it was known as the London to Bellingham run,” Reynolds said.

But by 2008, the time it took get through customs was getting longer and longer and the decision was made to switch to an all-Canadian route.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: ‘Brit-mobiles’ on display in Fort Langley

Restricted to British cars of all ages, turnout for the event can range from around 20 vehicles to more than 50 depending on the weather, Reynolds explained.

“It all varies,” he said.

“The older cars from the ‘30s, they’re big cars and they have great honking headlights” he said, but most also don’t have power steering or power brakes, so when the weather is bad, they tend to avoid the roads, while when it is as good as it was on Sunday, attendance comes up.

The OECC has about 450 members with over 800 cars in B.C,. Alberta and Washington State.

The vehicles include virtually every possible kind of British made vehicle from sleek classic sports cars like the Jaguar “E” type to luxurious sedans like the Rolls-Royce series of cars and sporty MGs, Triumphs, Morgans, even English Fords, ranging from the classics to modern models.

Reynolds is a good example of the kind of car fan that gravitates to the OECC.

He and his wife have gone on the run every yera except for a brief period where they didn’t have a car that qualified.

That was because they didn’t have space to park one when they downsized to an apartment.

They had to sell their a 1968 Rover 2000 but then, after finding a resident willing to sublet an unused parking spot, they went out and bought a 1963 Rover 3 Litre.

All fees from the tribute run are donated to the Delta hospice society.

Last year, they raised around $500 from donated registration fees, this year the total is expected to exceed $600.

As for the original London to Brighton run, it is still going on, taking place every year on the first Sunday in November, starting at Hyde Park in London and traveling 544 miles (87 km). to Brighton.

Organizers do not publish the order in which cars finish, and participants are not permitted to exceed an average speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).

Those that finish by 4:30 p.m. are awarded a medal.

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Jim and Sue McLagan of Surrey made the trip in a classic Jaguar ‘E’ type. Dan Ferguson Black Press

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