In 1900, Britain was the richest country on Earth, thousands of British schoolchildren's hearts filled with pride at the huge areas of the schoolroom map coloured pink and knowing we were Top Dog, King Edward VII was on the Throne and Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil was Prime Minister.

There were just 10,000 cars in Britain in 1900 compared to 26 million today.

Here are some photos of motor cars at several locations in Britain at the turn of the century....

The dawn of motoring: Nostalgic images of a bygone era show cars from the turn of the century

By Daily Mail Reporter
05th August 2008
Daily Mail

Solemn, smartly-dressed passengers gaze at the photographer as they trundle over Westminster Bridge in central London in this nostalgic image from 1900.

The photo is one of 30 images in an album from the dawn of the motoring age.

The 'motor bus' would have been travelling at no more than 8 mph - the limit for "light locomotives" in built-up areas.

They surfaced at the home of a descendant of the chairman of the Auto Machinery Company in Coventry.

The 1000-mile drive starts from Hyde Park Corner, 7am 23 April 1900. One of a series of pictures in a long lost album showing motoring scenes from 1896-1900.

The top deck of the bus bears an an advertisement for Magda, a West End show of the time starring 'Mrs Patrick Campbell', stage name of the London actress born Beatrice Tanner, renowned for her wit, bad behaviour and snobbery.

The album is entitled "The Progress of Automobilism 1896-1900" and should fetch around 3000 when it is offered for sale at Bonhams in London in October.

Another photo shows a crowd of men in hats watching competitors arriving at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton at the end of the of the "Emancipation Run" of 1896 - later known simply as the London to Brighton Run.

That first run celebrated the passing into law of the "Locomotives on the Highway Act", which raised the speed limit for "Light Locomotives'" from 4 miles per hour to 14 mph (8 mph in built-up areas).

The London to Brighton drive in 1896 arriving at Hotel Metropole, Brighton.

It also abolished the requirement to be preceded by a man on foot. Thirty-three vehicles started that historic first run, with 14 - mostly French - reaching Brighton.

Another image captures competitors in their cars at the start and at various stages of the 1000-mile Time Trial which started from Hyde Park Corner in London at 7 am on April 23, 1900.

Forty-nine of the 65 starters completed the event, which took in Bristol, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Manchester, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham before finishing back in the capital. Winner was Charles Stewart Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce a few years later.

Bristol was the staging post at the end of the first day's 118.5 mile run along the old coaching road (the A4) from London.

First Meeting of Daimler shareholders at the Coventry Works 1897.

According to contemporary reports, by the time cars reached Bath heavy rain had fallen making progress over the greasy tramlines and soaked paved streets difficult.

The Bristol Times & Mirror recorded that "with so many engines driven by petroleum spirit there was a noticeable odour, but it was not strong enough to be entirely disagreeable.

The motors generally seemed to be under splendid control, and the ease with which the steering apparatus worked was generally remarked upon by the spectators."

A line-up of cars on show at Cheltenham (year uncertain)