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Homepage. This page: Edwardian-era motoring with their vintage Wolseleys, inc WW1 RFC staff car.

1. Wolseley tourer, registration N-7005.

This Manchester-registered vehicle, N-7005, was identified recently as a Wolseley of circa 1911 or 1912. Two models were suggested as likely candidates, either a 12/16hp or a 16/20hp. Evidently the owners of such a motor were quite well-to-do, as motoring was still the preserve of the few rather than the masses. Many owners employed the services of a chauffeur to propel their horse-less carriage around the dusty lanes of Britain, although these photographs suggest that, in this case, the owners were more than happy and capable of driving the Wolseley on their own. By contrast, the car featured further down the page does appear to be being driven by a chauffeur.
The driving of a motor-car in the Edwardian era required skills that the modern motorist could barely comprehend. The delights of magneto ignition systems, gravity-fed fuel systems, hand-crank starting, gas lighting, unusual pedal layouts and frequent roadside repairs, all had to be grasped by the pioneer motorists. The automobilist would dress for the occasion, wearing sturdy weather-proof clothing designed to ward off the worst that Mother Nature could throw at them, weather-proofing being fairly rudimentary at best, with few cars enjoying the benefits of heaters - those that did were often heated via exhaust gases routed via a radiator set into the car's floorboards, the "Thermorad" being just one example.
The first of these photographs sees four adults stood around the Wolseley motor-car, having just removed their steed from its attractive motor house. Prior to departure, the diligent driver would check all the tyres for damage, and inspect fluid levels under the bonnet. The gent to the left is somewhat under-dressed, having omitted to install appropriate headgear on his person.
(Please click the thumbnails to view full-size versions.)
Edwardian-era Wolseley car
The second sepia snapshot has the car parked in a quiet rural location, a gent behind the steering wheel. Where the rest of the party are is anyone's guess - perhaps they're away, partaking in a stroll through the fields, while he remains with the car, enjoying a smoke of his pipe?
Another view of the vintage Wolseley
Prior to 1909 the company was called Wolseley-Siddeley, but the departure of J.D. Siddeley in 1909 led to the cars now being called Wolseleys. The four-cylinder 2,373cc 12/16 was produced in 1912 only, employing a three-speed gearbox and a worm drive rear axle.

2. Another pre-1920s Wolseley.

Two very similar photographs of a different Wolseley, of broadly the same era, are featured next from my own collection. The registration is only partially visible, F 9303 is my guess. This Essex series ran from January 1904 to March 1915, giving the handsome Wolseley a construction date of 1913/1914 or thereabouts. The mustachioed driver would appear to be a paid chauffeur, staring intently down the road ahead, while his employers record the trip for posterity with their camera. He knew his place. Two ladies, and a young lad, all sporting headgear in keeping with a road trip on a chilly winter's day, bask in the relative comfort of the Wolseley's rear compartment.
This too could be an example of the 16/20, or the larger 24/30. The underside of the mudguards bears witness to the muddy, often un-made, roads that regularly had to be traversed by the early motorists. The chauffeur certainly would have had his work cut out cleaning the Wolseley before its next excursion - "All in days' work, ma'am".
Out for a drive in the circa 1914 Wolseley

3. WW1 Wolseley staff car, Royal Flying Corps.

Via the OCC Facebook page arrived the following excellent photograph, my thanks to Mark Pearson for ok'ing its reproduction here. The gent sat in the commodious Wolseley is his grandfather, Mr Harold Pearson, who at the time was serving with the RFC (Royal Flying Corps) during the Great War. What a superb photo. The wrinkles and creases just add to the overall scene, of two young men and a Wolseley staff car, some 100+ years ago.
The white rubber tyres are interesting, as is the mixture of treads visible on the front pair. Two spares are strapped to the running board. Most of the car's brightwork has been painted over, reinforcing its military duties - as do the letters and number stencilled not just on the bonnet, but also the radiator grill. A much taller, closed, vehicle can be seen just to the left, alongside the other gent. The precise location of this photograph isn't known.
A fascinating image, of a time long ago.
WW1 Wolseley staff car, with the RFC
Find more early motoring photos on Page 16 of the vintage gallery.

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