In the Edwardian England of 1904 roads were still the province of the horse and travel of any distance was by train. Motor vehicles were few and still a novelty believed by many to be no more than rich men's toys so it was a brave decision by the fledgling Motor Cycling Club to inaugurate a competition which involved motorcycles travelling from London to Edinburgh in a limited time. Yet 46 hardy souls, from the original entry of 70, set out from the GPO building on the evening of May 20th following a ceremonial club supper heading northwards while officials boarded the midnight express to the Scottish capital to meet them on arrival. Despite adventures most checked in at the 9 two route controls and 21 completed the trip within the allotted time schedule qualifying for a gold medal which incidentally has ever since been the MCC`s award for a faultless performance. The trial was a motoring landmark for it was evidence that such an event was not only possible but provided enjoyable competition for the riders and a useful chance for manufacturers of machines and components to prove and improve their products. It so captured the imagination that it was repeated the following year and continued to the present day making it one of the longest established motoring events in the world.
It must be said though that today's Edinburgh Trial is a far cry from that original outing and the event has certainly tried many different formats over the years to keep pace with changing tastes. By the mid thirties the route although by now taking in observed sections in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales was in danger of becoming too easy and entries were dropping. So to follow the then popular trend it became a rally When that began to pall after the war it catered for the then popular new scooter movement by becoming the “Esso Scoot to Scotland” (yuk!) and later when the government, through the RAC, wanted to limit the number of long distance road events the Edinburgh was amalgamated with the MCC's annual Derbyshire trial. This solution which meant that most of the action took place in the Peak District taking in hills with emotive names like Bamford Clough and Litton Slack preceded by a comparatively short night section was a success from the start and is the style still adopted annually in the first weekend of October.