In 1933, the Automobile Association (AA) commissioned a survey for a transcontinental highway, an initiative that was proposed by the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT). This was to be a transnational road allowing motorists to travel quickly and easily across Europe with ‘no more complications than booking a seat at the theatre,’ and would cross France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The road, extending for almost 2000 miles, was intended to continue onwards east to India and south to Cape Town.
The Autocar correspondent William Fletcher Bradley undertook the driving for the trip, with his daughter Margaret as the ‘official artist and navigator.’ They were also accompanied by an employee of the Siddeley motor company. The journey, which was made in a Siddeley Special car, took place at a time when roads ‘were more often than not just fields!’, as Margaret Bradley quipped. As she points out in the accompanying newspaper article, ‘there may be airways and railways and steamers, but only a car will take you bag and baggage from the very heart of London to that core of oriental splendour, Istanbul.‘
The Bradley Collection, held at the National Motor Museum Motoring Archives, comprises material relating to a survey of the London to Istanbul International Highway, as well as some additional miscellaneous items, such as the promotional booklet for the route published by the AA, and the original artwork produced by Margaret Bradley as part of the survey.
Source: A. Badenoch, ‘Touring between war and peace: imagining the “transcontinental motorway”, 1930-1950,’ Journal of Transport History 28:2, p.196).