Moving house is supposed to be one of the most stressful experiences we go through. So spare a thought for the days before the motorcar when the journey between Brighton and London took three days. FINN SCOTT-DELANY looks back.

AS REMOVALS firm Bishop’s Move celebrated its 160th birthday, staff rummaged through old ledgers at its London offices.

Amongst the sales documents, photos and contracts was an old clipping from the then Evening Argus from 1983.

The clipping tells how some 130 years ago the firm, which has offices in Brighton and Crawley, used a horse-drawn pantechnicon van for removals.

The journey along the old A23 to London would take three days, with the pantechnicon needing to stop to change horses.

The news story focused on a vintage seafront procession which goes on to this day.

It quotes Nigel Bishop, the sixth generation of Bishops, who was franchise director, and recently retired after 40 years at the familyfirm.

As part of its 160th anniversary celebrations Bishop’s Move retraced its steps and delved into its history.

The company, which now employs 350 staff and has a fleet of 160 removal vehicles, was founded in 1854 by Joseph James Bishop, a labourer from Norfolk who came to London to join Robert Peel’s newly established police force.

JJ, as he was known, left the police force after a short time and opened a green grocers in Elizabeth Street, London SW1 from where he developed the business to include moving household furniture and effects.

This soon evolved to become a general cartage and removals business, with a small yard in what was then the village of Pimlico, SW1.

Bishop’s Move is a regular fixture at the Historic Commercial Vehicles Society’s London to Brighton run, which has been running for more than 50 years.

Thousands of enthusiasts line the route from the race’s starting point in Battersea Park to its finish in Madeira Drive on Brighton seafront.

Streams of lovingly restored vehicles, from the 1909 Commer Car type RC and Bedfordtype TK recovery vehicle and a Bedfordtype TM tractor unit, take part each year.

The 50 mile trip is made easily by thousands of modern vehicles every day.

But for some of their veteran forebears, completing the journey was a major technical feat.

Commentator Howard Stenning, of the Amberley Museum near Arundel, told The Argus in 2001: “For many of the older vehicles it really is a test of endurance to make sure they get here in one piece."

When they arrive in Brighton, drivers park their vehicles in the show area to be inspected by judges.

Prizes are awarded for the vehicles in each class with the best presentation and for the most original participants.

But for many of the drivers and their companions the rally is more about having a great day out than winning.

At the 2001 rally Barry and Trish Hutchinson, from Northumberland, completed the trip in three-and-a-half hours in a 1921 Dennis N type pump and escape fire engine.

Mr Hutchinson, who owns 20 antique fire engines, said: “Everyone seems to love old fire engines and it is great when you get people coming out into the streets to rave about it.”

Tom Collard, a farmer from Liss in Hampshire, sailed through race in a 1916 Model T Ford pickup which had been in his family since the year it was made.

Brian Carlos, who spent two years restoring a 1951 Guy Otter van, said: “It is an absolute pig to drive and you need to wear ear plugs when the engine’s running.

“I used to drive the same lorries back in the Sixties.

“I drive a Mercedes now so this is like going back in a time warp but she is a lovely old thing.”