Picture of the Month #3: Steam-powered buses
written by Caroline Benson, Photographic Asssistant
Anyone who has experienced public transport during the hot summer months may like these two photographs where air conditioning is readily available.
They are both from an album in the archive of Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies Ltd held here at MERL. Both date from the early 1870s and show early steam powered buses. The first, TR RAN ET3/24/10, was manufactured by Charles Burrell of Thetford, who termed it a Thetford Road Steamer. This particular one was supplied to the Turkish government for operating a bus service on Crete. The second photograph TR RAN ET3/24/34 shows Nairns Patent Steam omnibus, manufactured in Edinburgh in 1870. An article in “The Engineer” of January 28th 1870 describes how the design “… was to preserve as much as possible the appearance of an ordinary omnibus so as more easily to overcome the prejudice of the public.” The article also adds that Mr Nairn’s patent principle “…deadens noise and gives most ample adhesion in frosty weather.” Definitely a necessity in Edinburgh I would imagine.
No “first” and “standard” class then, just different prices for outside, at two pence and inside at three pence.
2 thoughts on “Picture of the Month #3: Steam-powered buses”
Amazing photos – I wonder if any of these steam buses have been preserved?
R W Thomson was a mechanical genius. Perhaps most well known for inventing the pneumatic tyre in 1845, his other contributions to modern transport included the solid rubber tyre and , of course, his Thomson Road Steamers. He also devised a method of detonating explosives using electricity, which was adopted in mines across the world no doubt saving countless lives.