OWN HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY GARAGE
Nowadays, it is almost impossible to imagine that just over a century ago people did without a car. Appearance on the market in the 80s. XIX century. The first patented mechanical crews of Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz became a real technological breakthrough and a big step along the path of progress. Despite the fact that over one hundred people in many countries of the world claim to be the prime inventor of the car, its appearance is due to a whole galaxy of engineers and mechanics who, at various times and independently of each other, invented numerous components and assemblies, sometimes without regard to their location. specific application.
Technical innovations that increased the level of everyday comfort in the Imperial Court were most often immediately introduced into the Tsarskoye Selo residence. However, speaking about the situation with cars, it is fair to say that from the first acquaintance and one-time trips of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna toMechanical motor before the beginning of the constant use of machines has passed almost 10 years.
A visit by the Emperor of the Fourth International Automobile Exhibition at the Mikhailovsky Manege. 1913
From 1901, the Minister of the Imperial Court, V. B. Frederiks, who began to ride the steam carriage of the French company Serpollet, became the first person surrounded by Nicholas II, who in the late 1890s acquired a vehicle on a mechanical basis for personal use. The courtyard took the news about the fad of a 63-year-old count with undisguised surprise, passed immediately after the purchase in 1902 of a personal car by the widowed empress Maria Feodorovna.
According to the stories of Lieutenant-General A. A. Mosolov, managing the affairs of the Imperial Court from 1900 to 1916, Prince Vladimir Orlov was the first to arrive in 1904 to the Alexander Palace on an “insanely chic Delaunay-Belleville car”. He invited Their Majesties to make several trips on a motor that he drove himself. Throughout 1904, Nicholas II repeatedly traveled by car, as evidenced by his diary entries; curious is the fact that the emperor's brother, Mikhail Alexandrovich, acted as a driver.
In 1905the emperor makes a fundamental decision about buying the first own cars and it can be said with confidence that from this moment the king’s true love for his cars begins.
Loading the imperial car in the garage car
The cars arrived in St. Petersburg in early 1906: a French executive limousine in the phaeton body “Delaunay-Belleville” and four German cars “Mercedes” in different body styles (two cars - “limousine”, one - “Landau” ", One - half-open type). These cars, which initiated the formation of the imperial garage, were intended for various purposes: the acquired property of the imperial family “Delaunay-Belleville” was used for short representative trips, and high-speed Mercedes, which was already considered one of the most reliable “Mercedes”, was meant for long-distance trips and was counted as serving imperial retinue.
Family near the garage. On the left is “Delaunnay-Belleville”, on the right is “Mercedes” Livadia. Photo 1914
For storage and maintenance of purchased cars at the end of 1905 - early 1906 they begin to build a special building. The location of the garage was not chosen by chance - not far from the Own Imperial Convoy, the barracks of the Railway Regiment and in the immediate vicinity of the Alexander Palace.
The complex of buildings built in the style of an English cottage (S. A. Danini, 1906), “modern” (V. A. Lipsky, 1908) and in the neoclassical style (A. K. Minyaev, 1913) was divided into several functional zones: on the first floor of the main building there were several boxes, workshops for the royal cars and a cartwright; there were also subsidiary services of the garage.
The upper floor of the building was residential and was intended for employees of the garage. In the second building there was a garage-residence of the head of the technical service and personal chauffeur of the imperial family A. Kegres. In the third, built after all the others, the repository of the expanded fleet was located. Strangely enough, all three buildings during the years of the Soviet power, wars, reorganizations, externally preserved to this day practically in their original state.
A visit by the emperor of Riga in 1910. Ahead of the Mercedes Simplex 26-45 1905 limousine.
By the end of 1906, there were already seven cars in the Imperial Garage, with a total value of 96,000 rubles. In addition to the aforementioned “Delaunay-Belleville” and four Mercedes cars, the Mercedes limousine and Benz omnibus, listed for the palace commandant, was purchased. Thus, all the cars available in the imperial garage can be divided into 4 groups:
February 18, 1907The imperial garage gained official status as one of the structural units of the Imperial Court.
It should be paid special attention that not only foreign cars were purchased, but also domestic ones: for example, the “Green” darker “Limner” limousine received the title of “Russian Mercedes”.
Cars of the royal garage
Cars of this model were ordered for the Imperial garage; One car was purchased by Russian Prime Minister S. Yu. Witte. Four Lessner cars were exhibited at the I International Automobile Exhibition in 1907 in St. Petersburg, their creator received the Big Gold Medal "For the Establishment of Automotive Production in Russia".
The imperial garage was developing dynamically and required quite considerable expenses both directly for the purchase of cars, and for maintenance and service. By 1908, the staff of the Tsarskoye Selo garage consisted of 26 people, and in five years it had grown to 80. These were the best drivers and specialists of the capital; they were paid very decent money, were given a bureaucratic form. When it was developed, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna herself acted as a fashion designer.
Officer of His own Imperial Majesty's garage
One of the desires of the empress was to create a modest form and not attracting too much attention, not differing from the form of the palace servants. The set of personal chauffeurs of the imperial family consisted of a protective color uniform with a gilded plait and silver crowns, the same color of a trousers, cap, cotton coat and flannel lining, lacquered boots, winter and summer gloves, a working suit with a cap.
The rest of the drivers received a standard palace form with the addition of a pair of varnished boots, gloves for the season, a working suit with a cap. The staff of the garage workshop also had its own form. In 1910, the appearance of the form underwent a number of changes and, in general, began to resemble moreon a military uniform.
Drivers of His own Imperial Majesty's garage (early 1910s)
The drivers, who carried the emperor and the members of the family, received a simple form of khaki wool diagonal for everyday trips, and the same shape for the main trips, but with a gold cord around the turn-down collar with a coat of arms on buttonholes; High-top lace-up leather boots, black boots, long gloves and mittens on fur, a winter coat (on a sheepskin) and an autumn coat on a beaver collar, waterproof summer raincoat, cashmere jacket and breeches, caps and a cap complemented the form.
As mentioned above, the cost of the imperial garage were very significant and the amount from year to year only increased: 1907 - 113,863 rubles. (from them on purchase of cars - 19 100); 1908 - 156 448 rubles. (69,719); 1909 - 155 465 rubles. (64,830); 1910 - 172,016 (33,093); 1911 - 242,687 rubles. (96,681); 1912 - 250 324 rubles. (58,612). Total: 1,283,866 rubles.
The new car is a good class, as in our days, was expensive. For example, the Russo-Balt model C 24-40 was estimated at 7,500 rubles. (for comparison, a gymnasium teacher received 100 rubles a month, and a qualified auto mechanic could earn up to two hundred.
Next to the driver is the Grand Duke E. of Hesse, the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna, Nikolai II - in the back seat to the right.
Most of the vehicles were located in Tsarskoye Selo, partly in the building of the Stable Department in St. Petersburg and a small number in Petergof. In addition, in Livadia, by the spring of 1911, a garage for 25 cars was ready for the needs of the yard during a summer stay in the Crimea.
By 1914, there were 39 cars in the Imperial garage, of which: 7 are the personal property of the imperial family; 16 - for persons of the imperial retinue; 11 - trucks and train "Renar"; 1 - service; 2 - assigned to the palace commandant; 2 - economic services.
"Delaunnay-Belleville". Photo 1915
After the February Revolution, the garage began to serve the Provisional Government, and after the October Revolution - the Bolsheviks. In the mid-1920s. almost all the royal cars were written off. Unfortunately, the Bolsheviks were never famous for their careful attitude to the "imperial legacy" and the unique royal rare cars sank into oblivion.
Nicholas II had a personal chauffeur - Adolf Kegres (1879–1943), who served the emperor's car for many years.
Born in France, an engineer, mechanic and inventor Kegres worked for many years in Russia, where he invented the "semi-tracked drive" to drive a car through loose snow and soil. From 1904 he was a technician in the engine department of the plant of the company Lesner, which supplied the royal garage with cars of its own construction. In 1906, when Prince V.N. Orlov acquired two new Daimler-Lutskoy cars for the emperor from Lessner, he remarked a 28-year-old expert. There was an invitation to the post of technical director of the Imperial garage in Tsarskoye Selo with 4,200 rubles of annual salary - a considerable amount at that time. Kegres gave his consent and became the head of the technical part of the Imperial garage.
Personal chauffeur of His Imperial Majesty Nicholas II and head of the technical
part of His own Imperial Majesty's garage A. Kegress.
Major-General Svita of His Majesty V.N. Voeikov, an honorary member of the Tsarskoye Selo Automobile and Sports Society, wrote in his memoirs: “The Sovereign's car was driven by Kegress, driving with unusual speed. Kegress always objected to my remarks regarding such a quick ride that the Sovereign loved it. ”
What speed was called big in those days? The most powerful cars on a good road developed a speed of 120–130 km / h. According to the testimony of the same Voeikov, Kegress perfectly “rules” the car on long journeys, maintaining an average speed of 60 to 70 miles per hour (65–75 km / h).
Tsarskoye Selo. The main entrance of the Grand Catherine Palace photo 1911. Kegress is already driving.
The functions of A. Kegress and his immediate subordinates included not only trowels to drive a car, but also be able to repair them. In special cases, drivers had to be able to take emergency measures to protect the passengers of the imperial family from any encroachment.In modern terms, they should be bodyguards.
All this was taught by the Imperial School of Drivers, which was located in the Tsarskoye Selo Imperial garage. Kegress combined the main employment with research work to improve the stability and maneuverability of cars in the winter. From 1906 to 1916 under the leadership of Kegress, here was the construction of experimental semi-tracked vehicles on the chassis of the Mercedes, Russo-Balt and Packard. Kegres seriously dealt with the problem of improving the cross-country ability of the car on snow-covered roads.
Russo-Balt C24-30 from the garage of Nicholas II
Replaced the front wheels with skis, and the rear ones with soft tracks, which were first made from sezh, and then from thick camel felt. In the future, these tracks began to make rubber. Kegress’s autosleds won victories in a series of races in the snow, and Kegress constantly improved his invention by participating in tests and car races.
Since the beginning of the First World War, A. Kegress was given the rank of ensign of the Russian army and provided an opportunity to improve his invention. It was made several semi-tracked vehicles that took part in hostilities.Kegress has developed a series of semi-tracked cars. These were cars and trucks, "Russo-Balt", "Renault", "Packard"; in 1916, one English armored vehicle, the Ostin, was converted into an experimental procedure.
After the February Revolution and the subsequent abdication of Emperor Nicholas II from the throne, 37-year-old A. Kegress handed over all the property of the tsar’s garage to representatives of the Provisional Government, and without waiting for the end of the revolutionary process, with his wife and three children went by car to Finland, where he returned to to their homeland.