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.

TR RAN ET3/24/10 - a Thetford Road Steamer
TR RAN ET3/24/10 – a Thetford Road Steamer from the 1870’s

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.

TR RAN ET3/24/34 - Nairns Patent Steam Omnibus
TR RAN ET3/24/34 – Nairns Patent Steam Omnibus from 1870

No “first” and “standard” class then, just different prices for outside, at  two pence and inside at three pence.

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