Ello guvnor! Fancy a ride in me 'Ackney carriage? I'll give you a nip of summat spicy!
Back when I started doing these King's Ginger adventures, I touched upon King Edward VII's love of cars and visited Brooklands Museum, but I only really touched upon it then. As I wrote in that original piece, King Edward owned a remarkable four Daimler motor cars upon his coronation in 1902 but he was introduced to cars in the late 1890s by early car fanatic John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. As we all (hopefully) know by now, The King's Ginger was invented by Edward's physician, specifically to keep him warm when he was out driving. There wasn't much in the way of heating in cars in those days, after all. I decided it really was time for me to pay a visit to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu and the place where the King's passion was born and therefore, where the roots of The King's Ginger ultimately lie!
The Hon John Scott-Montagu (father of the present Lord, who still lives at Beaulieu) was born in 1866 and had a lifelong interest in engineering. He was first into sailing (Beaulieu being very close to Buckler's Hard, where war ships were built), then trains. He trained as an apprentice at the London & South Western Railway (something which came in handy during rail strikes in 1919 and 1926, when he volunteered to drive trains himself). But he also saw first-hand the invention of the horseless carriage and the early motor car and could see the potential in this new form of transport. He became a passionate campaigner for motoring, taking part enthusiastically in early events and races in Europe (because man cannot invent a mode of transport without then racing it), winning the first ever medals for British drivers in British cars.
He's generally acknowledged to have introduced Bertie, then Prince of Wales, to motoring, when he took the Prince for a drive in his 1899 Daimler. Bertie was so enchanted that he soon ordered his own Daimler. Royal officials were flabbergasted! Montagu was also the first man to ever drive a car into the courtyard of the Houses of Parliament, invented number plates and got the speed limit raised from 12mph to a hair-raising 20mph on public roads.
The King visited Montagu at least twice more - in 1902 and again in 1904, though he went by train on the latter date.
The National Motor Museum was founded in 1952 by John's son, Edward Douglas Scott-Montagu, and at first, contained only five cars parked outside the Palace House. Nowadays, it has over 250, with everything from the very earliest cars and motorbikes to modern F1 cars and James Bon'd most recent Aston Martin. Plus the most amazing art deco Aubern as driven by Marlene Dietrich, one of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cars (there were apparently several - one with wings, one without, etc) and the car that Truly Scrumptious drives in the film as well.
The Truly Scrumptious car, complete with parasol holder!
But the most interesting thing, with regards to this blog, is looking at the cars that actually belonged to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
Apart from the tiny crown on the back which you could easily miss, there's no indication it was a royal car. Well, except for this, perhaps.
This car was used personally by Queen Alexandra!
It's an American made Columbia Electric from 1903, which the Queen would drive around the grounds of Sandringham. It had a range of 40 miles on one charge and was driven by its second owner, Richard Nash during WWII when petrol was rationed!
1903 De Dietrich
A 1902 Daimler, just like the King would have had.
There is a lot of fab old motoring memorabilia too!
Early Driving licence - pretty sure the King never needed one of these!
I could post these pictures all day - steampunk-esque details of old engines but I will stop there. Not before some additional pictures of me larking about on the only car you're allowed to actually pretend to drive! With some King's Ginger, of course.
Don't drink and drive though kids, unless you're the King, it's 1902, there are hardly any cars and they all go around 12mph. ;)
I thoroughly recommend a visit to Beaulieu Motor Museum - so much to see and do as the ticket also gets you into the Palace House and the ruined Abbey on the grounds! I hope to go again and read up more about the lady racing drivers in the early days too.
I'll leave you with a King's Sour, taken from the KGL Facebook page, perfect choice for the changing season. Make one with a shot of King's Ginger, a shot of lemon juice and a dash of Bourbon shaken up with some cubed ice. I don't think KGL cocktails need extra sugar but that's just me!
One final note - I actually love driving, especially driving fast. Maybe I was a lady racing driver in a previous life!
PS. As I have occasionally had questions from people asking about pronunciation of words, if anyone's wondering, Beaulieu was known in the 1600s as 'Bewley', and that is indeed how it's still pronounced despite its fancy spelling!