Simanaitis Says

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LITERARY AGENT COMMISSIONS paid by Brigadier Etienne Gerard and Dr. John H. Watson got put to good use: Literary agent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle participated in motor sports by taking part in the Prince Henry Tour competition in 1911. Two of his children, sons Denis and Adrian, evidently inherited his enthusiasm as well in their later ownership of the original CHITTY-BANG-BANG I. 

Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits on the 1911 Prince Henry Tour and Arthur Conan Doyle’s participation in this event. A primary source is The Fourth Garrideb—Numismatics of Sherlock Holmes, together with my usual Internet sleuthing.

Die Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt, the Prince Henry Tour. Prinz Albert Wilhelm Heinrich von Preußen (of Prussia) was the younger brother of German Emperor Wilhelm II, who had organized the 1907 Kaiserprieis auto race, a precursor of the German Grand Prix. 

Prince Albert William Henry of Prussia, 1862–1929. Prince Henry had a life-long interest in motor sports and sailing.

In 1908 through 1911, Prinz Heinrich held a competitive event known in English as the Prince Henry Tour. In contrast to the Kaiserpreis, competitors drove production four-passenger touring automobiles, not racing cars. Ferdinand Porsche won the 1910 tour.

In 1911, the competition was organized in honor of the coronation of British King George V, a first cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm II. A total of 62 drivers competed, 37 forming the German team; 28, the British. Each car was required to carry an army or navy officer from the other country as an observer.

The Two-Nation Route. The tour began in July 5, 1911, in Bad Homburg in the south of Germany. It wended its way north for 428 miles through Cologne, Münster, and Bremen to Bremerhaven, where a North German Lloyd steamer took the cars to Southampton.

The German portion of the tour. This and other images from The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia.

On Monday, July 10, the cars departed for a trip north from Southhampton to Leamington, then through Harrogate and Newcastle, to reach Edinburgh on Thursday, July 13. After this trip of 510 miles, the teams had Friday off in Edinburgh.

The British portion of the tour.

They headed south on Saturday, July 15, to Windemere, where teams rested on Sunday. The next three days took them through Shrewsbury, Cheltenham, Badminton, and Windsor Park to finish in London after 578 miles. 

Each entrant drove a total of 1516 miles through the two countries over 15 days. Tomorrow in Part 2, we focus on one particular entrant, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

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