Don’t be fooled by this old timer: this 1902 James and Browne town car enjoys more hands on his body than cars half his age.

Past incarnations:

Boanerges I was a 1908 Rover purchased in 1920


Bo’ II is a 1902 James and Browne purchased in 1934 for £40


City and Guilds College Union




Bo’, Bojangles

Details and dimensions:

Bo’ (number plate AW 38) is the only known remaining 1902 James and Browne automobile produced in London from 1898 to 1910. Bo’ is highly unusual in a number of ways, including engine layout with the flywheel between the cylinders… and the fact that two people drive him! He is maintained entirely by volunteer students of the City and Guilds College Motor Club.

Made-for-telly history:

Bo’s name is taken from the Bible (Mark 3:17) and means ‘Son of Thunder’ or ‘Son of Fire’… appropriately named given the loud engine noise and bolting horses problems it caused when driven around London at the turn of the last century.

Early life was good to Boanerges. He took part in many ‘Brighton runs’ during the early 1920s, until it was determined that he was too new to participate and banned. The London to Brighton event, sponsored by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, is open to all motor vehicles (three wheels or more) built before January 1905.

Then came the ‘Biscuit Incident’ on 30 October 1924. Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister and the Rover was beyond repair. Bo’ was driven to Downing Street, emptied of petrol, and his gearboxes filled with gravel. A well-dressed, life size effigy with a biscuit in his hand was left in the passenger seat. This was a protest against the recent knighthood of a leading biscuit manufacturer chairman, or perhaps the fact Ramsay MacDonald had conveniently received a Rolls-Royce as a gift from the newly knighted biscuit company chairman, Lord MacFarlane. Apparently, the police had considerable difficulty moving the car. There is no proof but it is suspected that Guilds students knew they had proved their point and celebrated over several pints.

Onward to a new Bo’. Two students, John Garland and Dick Riddle, bought the present Bo’ from Lilleshall in Shropshire for the princely sum of £40 and towed it back to London. The car was christened Boanerges Mk II on 26 November 1925 — with a bottle of beer. Being seven years older, the new Bo’ could again participate in the London-Brighton runs and, even better, he could reach greater speed: 23 mph.

It should be noted that the first Bo’, ‘old Bo’’, was eventually towed away from Downing Street. (No record remains of the Prime Minister’s shouts of abuse). Old Bo’ was purchased by (presumed) student Peter Maxwell in 1936. Old Bo’ was garaged at the Crystal Palace race track and used as a track marshal’s car in 1939–40 until the army requisitioned the track. With no other garaging available and his owner at war, Bo’ found himself flying the skies – through the Ministry of Aircraft Production’s scrap collection programme.

First and last violated:

Never! With age and value considerations Bo’s public appearances are extremely limited.


A mysterious letter delivered to ‘X’ occurred on 9 July 2002. You see, to celebrate his 100th birthday Boanerges celebrated by being driven along the back roads of France from Boulogne to Paris. He made it to Paris in six days thanks in part to a back-up team needed to rebuild the engine. A letter from the Rector, Sir Richard Sykes, was delivered conveying greetings to ‘X… a.k.a. École Polytechnique. The letter is said to have conveyed polite greetings… but who can say with certainty?


Although Bo can now be driven by only one person, the tradition of a co-driver is unlikely to disappear. Each year Bo’s new driver is chosen by the previous year’s driver. Bo’s driver is in control of the steering, brakes and gear changes, and the co-driver controls the throttle and ignition.


Bo’ is said to be one of only two James and Browne automobiles left in the world — the other being the newer 1904 model.


Is Bo’ more popular than other other Imperial mascots? Share your comments below.



  1. As President of CGCU I rode in Bo’ to Brighton on Nov 1974 although we we not allowed an Official Entry

  2. I also went on the Brighton Run in/on Boanerges, as President of the City and Guilds College Union. My wife I was married on July 4th 1953 ) followed in a car.
    We had to stop , for repairs, on the way to Brighton – but had a celebration dinner in Brighton before coming home

  3. Pingback: Imperial College Video Archive Blog-Video Archive Nostalgia. Hilarious Students of Imperial College: 1925

  4. I was Bo driver from 1980 to 1982, and drove in the London to Brighton run on 2 occasions. Bo was violated on at least one occasion, I believe some students from Southampton University removed him in the 1950s and used him in their Rag parade.

  5. My name is Charles Garland i am the grandson of John Garland, It is wonderful to see the above about Bo, reading through the history with my father Nigel Garland, there was one query and that was over the surname of my Grandfathers friend Dick, we believe it was Riddle and not Riggle, We would be very keen to know if this could be true.

    best regards

    Charles Garland

    • True indeed — see our reply to Chris Lumb below regarding Riddle versus Riggle for Boanerges. Thanks for the note!

  6. Bo was built by my great Uncle Tom, a great character. He was my mother’s (nee Browne) uncle. I am nearly 80 and recall him staying with us in the 1950s, and talking about his early motoring days. I’d love to bring the present younger generation of great greats of the family to see Bo one day

  7. In reply to Charles Garland, the friend of your grandfather was indeed Dick Riddle – given as R T Riddle in lists in my possession. According to the “Register of Students of the City & Guilds College 1884-1934”, Dick commenced studies in the Mechanical Engineering Department in 1932, the same year and department as J C Garland. Incidentally, we were delighted to see your father Nigel, with his 1923 Vauxhall 30/98 car, at the funeral on 28 April 2015 for John Garland’s close friend Rogers Knight, who died recently at the age of 99 (Sadly, John Garland was killed in a plane crash at a relatively young age). Rogers was himself a Bo Co-driver during his time at Guilds, and Bo was also present at the reception – held in the IC Boathouse – following the committal at Putney Vale Crematorium.
    One other point is to comment on the date given in the text of ‘MADE-FOR-TELLY HISTORY’ above, for the naming of Bo – I feel sure this must have been in 1935 and not 1925, since Bo was only purchased in 1934. Chris Lumb, Membership Secretary, City & Guilds College Association, c/o

    • We’ve updated the text thanks to the eagle eyes of Chris Lumb and Charles Garland — well spotted indeed. I can confirm our alumni database lists him as Mr Richard Tempest Riddle and not Riggle. Many thanks chaps for the clue!

      • Also, there were two versions of Bo — the first version of Bo which was a 1908 Rover purchased in 1920. It was replaced by the current car in 1934. So the name is from the first Bo, while the current Bo is actually named “Boanerges Mk II”.

  8. I was involved with Bo from 1974 to 1977 including a couple of trips up to the Hemel Hempstead classic car show, plus a support trip down to Brighton one wet year, and last time at Bo’s 100th birthday dinner at Gaydon. Good to see him on the road still.

  9. I participated in a wash and polish of Boanerges in the Spring of 1966 in the Mews behind Tizard Hall wher Bo was garaged. The group of us from Tizard were then treated to a round trip of Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner and back through Knightsbridge.
    Our Bo’ driver was R.G. Lawrence of Elec Eng.

    David McCallum, Elec Eng. 1963-66

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