Steam on the road

Happening to see a back number of your magazine, I found in it a review of “The Overtype Steam Road Waggon”, by Maurice A. Kelly, and in consequence will keep a lookout to find a copy thereof.

In the review printed in your magazine and initialled “W. B.”, one event of the period is not mentioned—the collection of a number of steam vehicles of all types which were paraded near the House pf Commons for MPs to examine, the result being, I remember from a report at the time, “MPs hurried past and showed no interest at all; the fate of an entire industry had been settled behind the scenes”.

As indeed it had, by one of the worthless Governments of 1921-39, and which also made short work of progressive diesel projects, so they could pump up their filthy monopoly in overpriced and taxed petrol.

The fact that many local authorities who had large numbers of these machines for highway work, refuse collection and sanitary purposes were put to very heavy loss by this typical dirty hatchet job, was also not considered, as usual John Bull pedestrian as motorist, paid the bill; overtaxed and overcharged for everything.

The steam vehicles were, when worked with “Welsh nuts”, smokeless and made no grinding gear noises or oily smuts; hot, dry particles from a fire blow away instead of sticking to everything like grim death.

These vehicles greatly promoted the speed of traffic flow, getting away from the point-duty policeman in half the time it took for a petrol lorry of the time as the boiler pressure had increased while the vehicle waited and, of course, that they stayed in use so long was largely due to absence of starting troubles, no oily plugs, damp leads, under-par batteries, batteries stolen entirely for their lead; all the lot of troubles that the practical man had no time to fool with—and, no frozen or leaking radiators, the devil’s own.

The end came for the best means of moving heavy goods when it was shown that a vehicle using home-produced coal could carry 15 tons at 40 m.p.h. and keep at it; the vile Baldwin clique saw to it that the public were to be deprived of its services in very short time, despite the fact that thousands of miners were out of work.

It was very liberal of you to afford space for this review of what will no doubt be a very interesting book when I find a copy.

H. H. Nicholls.
London, SW7.