Early 19th Century: Highway Steam Locomotives, Related Laws and Roads

1862
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I was thinking along the lines of what kind of highways they could have in 1862. Sure enough we could call some horse carriage trail a highway, but I figured I'd look for things. It is important to understand that we are not talking about railroad trains here. We are talking about regular road transportation.

We are being spoonfed this "horse and oxen" narrative, where only the beginning of the 20th century was the turning point when people went from horses to machines.

One of the things which forced me to invest some time into this was The UK Locomotives on Highways Act of 1861 (+1). What kind of issues did they really have back then to be creating highway laws to regulate steam transportation. Sure 3 or 5 experimental machines could not prompt this.

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In reality, we could probably push the date to approximately 1835, for this is what we can deduce out of this 1860 pub.

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The 1834 Act stated:
  • "For every Carriage moved or propelled or set or kept in Motion by Steam or Machinery or any other Power or Agency than animal Power the toll to be 2/6 per Wheel for each wheel thereof"
KD opinion: looks like by 1860s there could have been a well developed network of highways throughout this world. What we can uncover is up to us, but here is something for starters.

1827 Goldsworthy Gurney Steam Carriage
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They even depicted this steam car next to the destroyed London Colosseum. This Colosseum deserves a separate article, and now it has one.

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1833 Hancock's Enterprise Steam Omnibus
1833 bus, how about that?
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Showing the steam carriages Autopsy, Era and Infant.
  • In 1829 Hancock built a small ten-seater bus called the Infant, with which in 1831 he began a regular service between Stratford and London. It was powered by an oscillating engine carried on an outrigger behind the back axle. The boiler was vertical and made up of a series of narrow parallel water chambers. A fire was situated beneath the boiler and the fire was fanned by bellows worked by the engine. There was a hopper to feed in the coke.
  • KD: They probably chose to omit any coal smoke from the images, right?
1830s Bus Stop
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Pretty sure you will appreciate the description for the below image, for it contains the wisdom of the ignorant.

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1833
Print showing the steam carriage designed and built by Dr Church of Birmingham in 1832/33. The carriage operated on a daily basis between Birmingham and London, at an average speed of 14 miles per hour. It had an unusual design, with three solid wheels, and could carry 44 passengers, 22 inside the carriage and 22 outside.
  • Steam powered coaches operated between various English towns between 1820 and 1840.
  • The increased popularity of the rapidly expanding railway network, as well as opposition from operators of horse-drawn coaches, who physically blocked roads and persuaded the government to impose crippling tolls, was largely responsible for driving the steam coach operators out of business however.

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The three-wheeled steam coach from Dr. William Church was used in regular passenger service between London and Brighton.
  • The carriage operated on a daily basis between Birmingham and London, at an average speed of 14 miles per hour. It had an unusual design, with three solid wheels, and could carry 44 passengers, 22 inside the carriage and 22 outside. Steam powered coaches operated between various English towns between 1820 and 1840. The increased popularity of the rapidly expanding railway network, as well as opposition from operators of horse-drawn coaches, who physically blocked roads and persuaded the government to impose crippling tolls, was largely responsible for driving the steam coach operators out of business however.
  • Print showing the steam carriage designed and built by Dr Church of Birmingham in 1833.
Apparently there are, and were back then some doubters of this specific machine, but what else is new?


Well, these machines are just a few, and there are tons more. I should probably say there were tons more. From this perspective our 1862 "Highway Locomotive" is not surprising, for they had stuff like this as early (from what we can see) as 1820-1830. Pretty sure, most of that tech we will never see.

As a matter of fact in 1831 them people were having fun with their steam engine problem. Of course, the endresult the narrative will use is this:
  • A satire on the coming age of free-running steam carriages, which largely never materialized.
  • At the same time it's funny how we have motorized trikes dated with 1831, isn't it?
The Progress of Steam. A View in Regent's Park, 1831', 1828. Steam-powered coaches, horses, tricycles, including one with body like a teapot, are speeding along or blowing up and causing traffic chaos in Regent's Park, London. Aquatint after Henry Alken (1774-1851).

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Is this really an 1882 Fire Engine, or they simply used one from 1832? Where did 50 years of development go?
  • According to reports in both The Engineer and The Autocar in November 1895, which only show this steam-powered machine from the other side, John Inshaw from the Aston Manor area of Birmingham, seen here at the helm, said that he built this carriage in 1881. As the plate on the side of it gives an 1882 date, the earlier date is probably when construction began, rather than that of completion, a not uncommon situation with pioneer machinery that took a while to build.
  • Interesting how in 1830 males were wearing the exact same top hats. Fashion stagnation, or what?
1882
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Then we get into 1900s. This is an original 1900 black and white halftone print of a drawing by George A. Williams of an early automobile outing.
  • What happened to that "Industrial Revolution" which was supposed to barely end by 1900. They had better stuff in 1830s.
1900's
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HIGHWAYS and ROADS
I did not spend much time looking for any "highways". Primarily because I think we can see plenty of those in the photographs published on this blog. I agree, that for the most part we only see these high quality roads in the cities, but how many photographs of the pertaining stuff do we really have? Is it possible that there were roads like this connecting 18th century cities? They clearly had the tech to build them. Of course they "only" had horse carriages to use on those roads in 1888, but hey, that's how the narrative goes.
  • This 1907 photograph below is from here. See any steam cars there? Because these roads were made for horses. (sarc)
  • Apparently they started building the monument in 1888. The obelisk was completed by 1892, and the entire thing by 1901.
  • They do not really tell us when the roads were built.
Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1907. Soldiers and Sailors Monument.jpg

By the way, wanna read some "Science Fiction" from 1893? Are we sure it's sci-fi though?
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KD: You have some of my thoughts above. Personally, I find it interesting how this amazing so-called "innovation" was popular between 1820, and 1840, after which it was driven out of business by trains, and... opposition from operators of horse-drawn coaches. We are witnessing one of those weird instances, when a technology advancement lost out to an inferior mode of transportation.
  • Of course, I'm being facetious with my assessment of the situation. Once again we are being fed a load of BS pertaining to pre-1850s.
  • 1880s companies like De Dion-Bouton probably capitalized on that 1830s tech later on.
Do you have an opinion on these 1820s-30s buses and Co?
 

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