Virginia and Leonard bought their first car in 1927 as a result of the success of To the Lighthouse. By all accounts it was either a Singer Junior or a Singer Senior. I don’t have a photograph of either of these but today I went for breakfast to The Carding Shed, Hepworth, where there is a display of classic cars. One of these was a 1929 Chrysler Saloon which, although not the same as a Singer, will give you an idea of what The Woolfs’ car looked like.
Photo: my own
The car gave Virginia freedom from walking, cycling or travel by train. It allowed her to travel thousands of miles as far as Italy, France and Ireland. Both Virginia and Leonard had driving lessons and after only a few weeks Virginia was able to drive alone in the countryside. However, not long after her initial enthusiasm for driving, she drove into a hedge and preferred to be a passenger after that.
Here is a little bit of driving history:
In 1903 the first driving licences were introduced in order to identify vehicles and their drivers. However, no test was necessary. The licences cost the equivalent of £25 today.
in 1927 Virginia started to learn to drive. She would never have had to take a driving test. The speed limit at this time was 20mph.
In 1935 testing became compulsory for all new drivers. A candidate would arrange to meet the examiner in a railway station or somewhere as no test centres existed at this time. Windscreen wipers were used for the first time.
Keeping up with the Joneses?
I her diary for July 1927 Virginia commented about the car that ‘the Keynes have one too – a cheap one’. Presumably hers was an expensive one.
For information, the average price of a new car in 1927 was £380 which is the equivalent today of nearly £21k.