This once regular feature refuses to go away. Three readers have kindly written to draw my attention to appropriate books. The first is A Mountain of Light by Austin Coates, the history of The Hong Kong Electric Company, which is thought to be the oldest power company in the world using its original name. The company secretary in Hong Kong has kindly sent us a photocopy of the relevant pages, which deal with a fleet of Trojan cars bought in 1925 for the Company’s representatives. These solid-tyred cars are accurately described and earn much praise. At the time when they were acquired, only a few cars belonging to high ranking government officials or company directors were seen in China and in Hong Kong the first car was that of Dr Noble, a dentist, who lived in Pokfulam and bought it in 1915.
The war delayed car sales up to 1920, but within two years 1000 were sold. The opening of Stubbs Road in 1923 enabled cars to reach the Peak if they did not overheat on the way. Some 5000 cars were owned by the well-to-do by 1928 but in Hong Kong motoring was mostly done in a fleet of badly battered Citroen taxis, until, as the drivers were wont to turn back the taximeters and pocket the change, the firm running them went bankrupt! The Trojans served extremely well and the book contains some amusing stories relating to them.
The other book to which our attention is drawn is Sea and Sardinia by none other than D H Lawrence, published in 1923. It describes a bus journey undertaken by the famous author in 1921, from Sorgono to Nuoro. The make of the bus isn’t mentioned but it is obvious that it went very much in its own time, to suit the passengers, as country buses once did in England, and that Lawrence enjoyed it; he praised Italian automobiles and one wonders what cars he used himself.
Finally a 3 1/2-litre Bentley figures in The Courier by Derek Kartun (Century Press, 1985) and although this is fiction, about smuggling bullion from Paris to Lisbon, the author says the Bentley was an actual car, and it is apparently accurately described, although, says our correspondent, Bentley Motors might not have approved the fictitious alterations made to It for carrying heavy objects over the Pyrenees! We thank these readers for their interest and are always glad to hear of real cars in books. WB