Before 1900 most local roads were narrow, unmetalled, uncambered, ill-drained and in places bordered by deep ditches
Before 1900 most local roads were narrow, unmetalled, uncambered, ill-drained and in places bordered by deep ditches.
Improvements followed the arrival of a few motor cars in the late 1890s. The introduction of trams accelerated the process: many roads needed widening and properties had to be demolished. The 1904 Motor Car Act required the erection of signs advertising dangerous corners, crossroads and steep inclines: the era of traffic signage and regulation had arrived. By 1913 in Hampton for example, a 10 mph limit was imposed in places. In the 1930s traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and roundabouts had all started to appear locally.
In the very early days cars were usually driven by a chauffeur who was often exposed to the elements. Cars were made locally and different versions of the Orleans car were built in Twickenham. An Orleans Motor Company brochure shows a 1907 35 hp six-cylinder car, built at The Orleans Works. Johannes Van Toll was a Dutchman who came to England in the mid-1890s and in 1900 founded the Thames Valley Motor Co. Ltd that produced the New Orleans car.
The car, based on the Belgian Vivinus car, was built at the Orleans Works, originally on the corner of Chapel and Orleans Roads and later at Sherland Road. Orleans cars won numerous medals at Trials in the UK and abroad. Ward & Avey Ltd also set up a factory in Somerset Road, Teddington, building the AV motor car between 1919 and 1924.
It is recorded that in Twickenham “a craze started for womenfolk to shop from their cars. They arrived at the shop door, chauffeur driven. The horn would blast and someone had to go out of the shop with paper and pencil to take madam's order, to be delivered later.”