1. The first public showing of an Ariel motor tricycle was the Stanley Show, Agricultural Hall, Islington, 18 November 1898
On 18 Nov 1898 there were two huge cycle shows in England: the Stanley Show at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, and the National Show at Crystal Palace, London. According to the newspapers of the day 'it seems a strange proceeding to hold both shows at the same time'. I'd have to agree, particularly as the two shows were 'at least an hour's journey apart'. 'The Stanley Show has 330 exhibitors showing 2,200 machines. The National Show has 300 exhibitors, with slightly over 2,000 machines.' Both shows were well supported by the industry and the public: 'Each of them has and all available space occupied.'
In Peter Hartley's Ariel book, and on countless web sites, it is stated that the Ariel motor tricycle was first shown to the public at the Crystal Palace in November 1898. No so, it seems. Both newspapers and motoring press of the day (see below) describe the Ariel Motor Tricycle at the Stanley Show at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, rather than the National Show at the Crystal Palace (where there were very few motor exhibits). The Autocar of 19 Nov 1898 makes it quite clear that this is Ariel's first motor exhibit: 'THE ARIEL CYCLE CO. will make their first appearance in the ranks of the motor makers with an "Ariel" motor tricycle...'
There is some guff below quoted from the press. By the way, I'm still not sure exactly which tricycle was on display. If it was the engine-in-front-of-the-axle one, I'm surprised there wasn't more made of it in the description. Note that it is described as "British build throughout", so it must have had the 'Components Dion' motor as built by Cycle Components Mfg Co.
19/11/1898 Autocar, p 743
THE STANLEY SHOW
"THE ARIEL CYCLE CO. will make their first appearance in the ranks of the motor makers with an "Ariel" motor tricycle, a machine built under the De Dion patents, and following the lines of the De Dion construction. The speed regulation is arranged from four to twenty-five miles per hour, and the public will look with interest at this, the first production of another new English motor-building firm."
THE STANLEY SHOW
"The Ariel Company, which have a large an beautiful assortment, are displaying machines ...[description of bicycles]... But the most remarkable object on their stall was a motor tricycle constructed on the principle of the De Dion patent. The motor has 1 3/4 horse power, and the motive agent is petrol, failing which benzoline may be used. It can travel as much as 30 miles an hour, and can run 120 miles without recharging. The tricycle is light and elegant in appearance, and altogether free from clumsiness and heaviness which so many of the earlier designs of the motor cycle possessed. The Ariel Company also exhibit free pedal bicycles, combined with powerful back-pedalling brake, and highly recommend this form of pedal for ladies. There were only two or three motor tricycles exhibited at all."
26/11/1898 Autocar, p 759
THE STANLEY SHOW
"In another part of the main building we discovered a motor tricycle manufactured by THE ARIEL CYCLE CO., of London and Birmingham. This is a very compact and neat-looking machine of the modified De Dion type, propelled by a one and threequarter horse-power motor furnished with an electrical sparking device adapted to be times for regulating the speed. It is British build throughout."
THE AUTOCARS AT THE NATIONAL SHOW.
"At the National Show at the Crystal Palace the motor carriage exhibits are comparatively scarce...
[description of small number of motor exhibits, Ariel not mentioned]
...As will be seen from this brief description of the exhibits, there is not much variety in the matter of self-propelled vehicles at the National Show, but the exhibits which are to be seen are most interesting. We have no doubt, too, that, when the National Show of 1899 comes round, it will be found to contain many more motor machines than does the present exhibition."