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Grove Hill Harrow – First Ever Motor Vehicle Fatality

Grove Hill Harrow

Grove Hill Harrow is immortalised in British History as the place of the first ever motor vehicle fatality.

On the 25th February 1899, 31 year old engineer Edwin Sewell drove his Daimler  from Whitehall to Harrow.

Accompanying Sewell for a test run across London, was the head of the Army and Navy Stores, 63 year old Major James Stanley Richer.

Richer was interested in buying Sewell’s Daimler for the Army and Navy stores, therefore he wanted to see the vehicle’s operation.

After the morning drive from Whitehall, Sewell and Richer arrived at Harrow, where they stopped for some rest and a spot of lunch.

They both had lunch at The King’s Head Hotel located on Harrow on the Hill. The hotel has been converted to flats.

After lunch both, Sewell and Richer returned to the car and drove her up to Grove Hill, with the intention of showing  Richer the operation of the vehicle’s brakes.

Sewell, confident of the brakes in his vehicle, allowed the Daimler to pick up speed as it went downhill.

According to the press reports, the vehicle rode at approximately 20 MPH when Sewell applied the brakes.

Grove Hill Harrow

Unfortunately, while the brakes responded, one of the rear wheels in the Daimler collapsed and brought the vehicle down.

Due to the loss of the wheel, the vehicle stopped suddenly, throwing the occupants out of the car.

Sewell died on impact, however, Major Richer survived, dying three days later.

Dispute

There is some dispute regarding weather this is the first fatal motor accident in Britain or not.  Some argue about an alleged earlier fatal car crash in Purley, London the year before.

However, weather this is the first or not, this is one of the earliest motor vehicle fatalities ever reported in Britain.

For other interesting stories from Harrow please visit the home page of Local Plumbing Company in Harrow website.

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