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Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society caters for veteran cars, vintage cars & classic cars, as well as commercials and motorcycles.

 
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:: [  1905 Riley 9HP Two-Seater  ] ::

in
Cecil Hepworth 1908 film

“The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper"


Enquiry: 
Hi,  I am told you are THE man for identifying vintage cars. I’m writing something about this film, 
"The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper" (1908), 
and wondered if the model was known to you? Any thoughts much appreciated... All the best  Matthew Sweet



Many thanks for your enquiry. We have the same dog/child photo on our Help Page 33 dated 2010, and our answer was as follows: Interesting postcard sent to us by our member Chris Cuss (UK) from one of his friends which is showing a dog driving a car. He wanted to know the name of the dog! -- Lassie sprang to mind. Fortunately, shortly after he also supplied the answer that the car is a 1907 Riley 9HP and that the photo is a still from a 1907 Cecil Hepworth film 'Rover drives a car' where the dog rescues a child. The dog's actual name was 'Blair' and was Hepworth's. It was first cine animal to have named role.

While on the subject of Lassie, a Rough Coated Collie, it should be remembered that the original Lassie was a British story. The later story we all know is by Eric Knight was made into a MGM movie. Lassie was actually a laddie called Pal, and his trademarked descendants continue to play the part.

Subsequent investigation suggests there seem to have been two films ‘shorts’ featuring Rover the Rough Coated Collie which are frequently mixed up. One is “Cecil Hepworth's
“Rescued by Rover”, a six minute film issued in 1905. Wikipedia confirms name of a film as “Rescued by Rover” and as released in “1905”. It however features a child being stolen by a beggar woman and later discovered by Rover who goes home and persuades Master to go to get the baby. No motor vehicles involved in the plot. Interesting to note that the film was enormously popular, having a number of original re-filming because the master wore out, and helped to install Rover as nation’s favourite name for a dog. The child is Hepworth’s daughter Barbara.”

Cecil Hepworth made a second ‘Rover’ film titled
“The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper” which was eight minutes long and was made in 1908. The story is very similar. A kidnapper in a car steals the baby, Rover chases car for miles and when the car stops, Rover drives the car back with baby still in it. The child is Hepworth’s daughter Barbara and Mother is Hepworth’s wife, and Hepworth is Father. Early films were made in Walton-on-Thames.

There is much confusion about the naming of the films and dates issued, but ”Rescued by Rover“ was made in 1905 and “The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper’ was issued in 1908. The film with the car is ‘The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper’ issued in 1908.

The car is a Riley 9hp Light Two-Seater. Dating is a little difficult because it does not have the original numberplate. Most probably the dating would be cca 1907. It was fitted with a 1,000cc V-twin engine and could be had with an optional hood. This vehicle was an update on the earlier Riley Tricars and Quadricycles and was their first venture into proper car manufacture. It was the first Riley to be manufactured commercially, and it went on sale in early 1906. The car carries an AA badge on the dashboard which was first issued in 1906 and was the early type, pre-1911 type, when wings were added to the top. So cca 1907 for car and AA badge would probably tie in with a 1908 film.

It is interesting to note that the screen car has the registration BH7 which is a Buckingham County Council reg of possibly early 1903. It is also interesting to note from Nichola Young's excellent doorstopper encyclopedia "Car Number Classics" 
that this registration was issued to Charles Stapelton Pelham Clinton who lived in Woodside House, Ammersham, Bucks, (now Woodrow High House in which during the Civil War Cromwell housed his wife and daughters). 

Clinton owned three cars, BH 5 which was a 1903 Prunel, BH6 which was a 1903 Beaufort, and BH7 which is confirmed as being registered in November 1903 and being registered as a 5.5HP Oldsmobile Runabout, - made by the then largest automobile producer in the United States. It was certainly not a 1905 Riley. Clinton died in 1911. It is documented that BH7 number and vehicle came under new ownership in October 1904.

Quite how, and when, BH7 migrated from a 1903 Oldsmobile to a 1905 Riley, we have not yet been able to define. Registration transfer was quite common in the early days because to have an early registration suggested you must be super-rich to have had a car when they were first available and astronomically expensive.



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