Drive-It Day celebrates the One Thousand Mile Trial

The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs created Drive-It Day to celebrate the occasion in 1900 when 65 vehicles drove from London to Edinburgh returning to London to prove the viability of the motor car.

Drive-It Day is always held on the Sunday closest to 23rd April when the trial started, it took until 12th May to complete the journey.  35 vehicles completed the course.

The route visited Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Worcester, Birmingham, Lichfield, Matlock, Buxton, Manchester, Preston, Lancaster, Kendal, Keswick, Carlisle, Moffat, Peebles, Edinburgh, Berwick, Newcastle, Durham, Northallerton, Thirsk, York, Leeds, Harrogate, Bradford, Huddersfield, Sheffield, Worksop, Lincoln, Nottingham, Loughborough and Northampton.

The event was organised by The Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland which later became The Royal Automobile Club.

The event was a major logistical challenge as petrol stations did not exist and in the beginning of the twentieth century petrol was purchased from blacksmiths,  village stores and bicycle shops in containers holding 2 gallons, about 9 litres.

The principal supplier was Carless, Capel & Leonard, in 1899 they had 178 agents selling their petrol (19 in London,147 in the provinces, 4 in Scotland, 5 in Wales and none in Ireland!).  By 1904 the company had 1,260 stockists including 4 in Ireland.

The 2 gallon can was the main method of purchasing petrol for 20 years.

More information is available from:

Grace's Guide to British Industrial History
Petroliana – On Location by Alan Chandler