John Henry Knight (70), wealthy engineer and inventor died

Saturday 22nd September 1917

John Henry Knight (70), wealthy engineer and inventor died. He was the first person to be convicted of speeding in the UK after he built Britain’s first petrol-powered motor vehicle in 1895. The three-wheeled, two-seater contraption had a top speed of only 12mph, but it was enough for Knight to feel the long arm of the law. On 17 October 1895 John Henry Knight and his assistant James Pullinger were stopped in Castle Street, Farnham and charged with using a locomotive without a licence. The case was heard at Farnham Town Hall on 31 October 1895. Knight and Pullinger were both fined 2s 6d. Knight was restricted to using the car only on farm roads until the Locomotive Act was replaced by the Locomotives on the Highway Act, on 14 November 1896. He was later also responsible for the repeal of the notorious Red Flag legislation. Knight’s vehicle was said to be “almost silent” when it was running; the vehicle entered a limited production run in 1896 and shortly after that, althought the design was later changed in favour of a four wheel version. The tricycle was the only British car at the 1896 Horseless Carriage display at Crystal Palace. The car is currently on display at the National Motor Museum.

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