|About the Book|
When the original edition of the “Great North Road” was published—in 1901—the motorcar was yet a new thing. It had, in November, 1896, been given by Act of Parliament the freedom of the roads- but, so far, the character of the nation’s traffic hadMoreWhen the original edition of the “Great North Road” was published—in 1901—the motorcar was yet a new thing. It had, in November, 1896, been given by Act of Parliament the freedom of the roads- but, so far, the character of the nation’s traffic had been comparatively little changed. People would still turn and gaze, interested, at a mechanically-propelled vehicle- and few were those folk who had journeyed the entire distance between London and Edinburgh in one of them. For motor-cars were still, really, in more or less of an experimental stage- and on any long journey you were never sure of finishing by car what you had begun. Also, the speed possible was not great enough to render such a long journey exhilarating to modern ideas. It is true that, the year before, the “Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland,” not yet become the “Royal Automobile Club,” had in its now forgotten role of a “Society of Encouragement” planned and carried out a “Thousand Miles Tour,” which had Edinburgh as its most northern point- but it was a very special effort. Those who took part in it are not likely to forget the occasion.To-day, all that is changed. Every summer, every autumn, sees large numbers of touring automobiles on the way to Scotland and the moors, filled with those who prefer the road, on such terms, to the railway. From being something in the nature of a lonely highway, the Great North Road has thus become a very much travelled one. In this way, some of its circumstances have changed remarkably, and old-time comfortable wayside inns that seemed to have been ruined for all time with the coming of railways and the passing of the coaches have wakened to a newer life. Chief among these is the “Bell” on Barnby Moor, just north of Retford. The story of its revival is a romance. Closed about 1845, and converted into a farm-house, no one would have cared to predict its revival as an inn. But as such it was reopened, chiefly for the use of motorists, in 1906, and there it is to-day.But, apart from the tarred and asphalted condition of the actual roadway in these times, the route, all the way between London, York and Edinburgh, looks much the same as it did. Only, where perhaps one person might then know it thoroughly, from end to end, a hundred are well acquainted with the way and its features. It is for those many who now know the Great North Road that this new edition is prepared, giving the story of the long highway between the two capitals.