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G 78.

Doc. No.iol







February 9, 1832.

On motion of Mr. MERCER,

Resolved, That the Report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons of Great Britain, bearing date October 12th, 1831, on the use of Steam Carriages on Common Roads, with the Minutes of Evidence, and Appendix attached thereto, be printed.

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The Select Committee appointed to inquire into, and to report upon, the pro 'portion of tolls which ought to be imposed upon coaches and other vehicles propelled by steam or gas, upon turnpike roads; and also, to inquire into, and to report upon, the rate of toll actually levied upon such coaches or other vehicles under any acts of Parliament now in force; and who were instructed to inquire generally into the present state and future prospects of land carriage by means of wheeled vehicles propelled by steam or gas on common roads; and to report upon the probable utility which the pub. lic may derive therefrom; and who were empowered to report the minutes of the evidence taken bofore them, to the House; have examined the matters referred to them, and agreed to the following report:

The committee proceeded, in the first instance, to inquire how far the science of propelling carriages on common roads by means of steam or mechanical power, had been carried into practical operation; and whether the result of the experiments already made had been sufficiently favorable to justify their recommending to the House that protection should be extended to this mode of conveyance, should the tolls imposed on steam carriages, by local acts of Parliament, be found prohibitory or excessive.

In the progress of their inquiry, they have extended their examination to the following points, on which the chief objections to this application of steam have been founded, viz. the insecurity of carriages so propelled, from the chance of explosion of the boiler, and the annoyance caused to travellers, on public roads, by the peculiar noise of the machinery, and by the escape of smoke and waste steam, which were supposed to be inseparable accompaniments.

It being also in charge to the committee, "to report upon the proportio of tolls which should be imposed upon steam carriages,” they have examined several proprietors of those already in use, as to the effect produced on the surface of roads by the action of the propelling wheels.

As this was too important a branch of their inquiry to rest entirely on the evidence of individuals, whose personal interest might have biassed their opinions, the committee also examined several very scientific engineers, by whose observations, on the causes of the ordinary wear of roads, they have been greatly assisted.

The committee were directed also to report "on the probable utility which the public may derive from the use of steam carriages.” On this point they have examined a member of the committee, well known for his intelligence and research on subjects connected with the interests of society, and they feel that they cannot fulfil this part of their instructions better than by merely referring the House to the evidence of Colonel Torrens.

These inquiries have led the committee to believe that the substitution of inanimale for, animal power, in draught on common roads, is one of the most important improvements in the means of internal communication erer

introduced. Its practicability they consider to have been fully established; its general adoption will take place more or less rapidly, in proportion as the attention of scientific men shall be drawn, by public encouragement, to further improvement.

Many circumstances, however, must retard the general introduction of steam as a substitute for horse power on roads. One very formidable obstacle will arise from the prejudices which always beset a new invention, especially one which will at first appear detrimental to the interests of so many individuals. This difficulty can only be surmounted by a'long course of successful, though probably unprofitable, experiment. The great expense of the engines must retard the progress of such experiments. The projectors will, for a long period, work with caution, fearing not only the expense incurred by failure, but also that too sudden an exposure of their success would attract the attention of rivals. It is difficult to exemplify to the House how small and apparently unimportant an adaptation of the parts of the machinery, or of the mode of generating or applying the steam, may be the cause of the most rapid success; yet he who, by a long course of experiment, shall have first reached this point, may be unable to conceal the improvement, and others will at once reap the benefit of it.

The committee are convinced, that the real merits of this invention are such, that it may be safely left to contend with these and similar difficulties; there are others, however, from which the legislature can alone relieve it. Tolls, to an amount which would utterly prohibit the introduction of steam carriages, have been imposed on some roads; on others, the trustees have adopted modes of apportioning the charge which would be found, if not absolutely prohibitory, at least to place such carriages in a very unfair position as compared with ordinary coaches.

Two causes may be assigned for the imposition of such excessive tolls upon steam carriages. The first, a determination on the part of the trustees, to obstruct, as much as possible, the use of steam as a propelling power; the second, and probably the more frequent, has been a misapprehension of their weight and effect on roads. Either cause appears to the committee a sufficient justification for their recommending to the Housc, that legislative protection should be extended to steam carriages with the least possible delay.

It appears from the evidence, that the first extensive trial of steam as an agent in draught on common roads, was that by Mr. Gurney, in 1829, who travelled from London to Bath and back in his steam carriage. He states, that although a part of the machinery which brings both the propelling wheels into action when the full power of the engine is required, was broken at the onset, yet that, on his return, he performed the last eighty-four miles, from Melksham to Cranford bridge, in ten hours, including stoppages. Mr. Gurney has given to the committee very full details of the form and power of his engine, which will be found in the evidence.

The committee have also examined Messrs. Summers & Ogle, Mr. Hancock, and Mr. Stone, whose steam carriages have been in daily use, for some months past on common roads. It is very satisfactory to find that, although the boilers of the several engines described, vary most materially in form, yet that each has been found sully to answer the expectation of its inventor. So well, in fact, have their experiments succeeded, that in each case where the proprietors have ceased to use them, it has only been for the purpose of constructing more perfect carriages, in order to engage more ex. tensively in the business.

When we consider that these trials have been made under the most unfavorable circumstances—at great expense-in total uncertainty-without any of those guides which experience has given to other branches of engineering;—that those engaged in making them are persons looking solely to their own interest, and not theorists attempting the perfection of ingenious models;—when we find them convinced, after long experience, that they are introducing such a mode of conveyance as shall tempt the public, by its superior advantages, from the use of the admirable lines of coaches which have been generally established-it surely cannot be contended that the introduction of steam carriages on common roads is, as yet, an uncertain experiment, unworthy of legislative attention.

Besides the carriages already described, Mr. Gurney has been informed, that from “twenty to forty others are being built by different persons, all of which have been occasioned by his decided journey in 1829."

The committee have great pleasure in drawing the attention of the House to the evidence of Mr. Farey. His opinions are the more valuable from his uniting, in so great a degree, scientific knowledge to a practical acquaintance with the subject under consideration. He states that he has "no doubt whatever but that a steady perseverance in such trials will lead to the general adoption of steam carriages:" and again, that what has been done proves to his satisfaction the practicability of impelling stage coaches by steam) on good common roads, in tolerably level parts of the country, without horses, at a speed of eight or ten miles per hour.”

Much, of course, must remain to be done in improving their efficiency; yet Mr. Gurney states that he has kept up steadily the rate of twelve miles per hour; that the extreme rate at which he has run is between twenty and thirty miles per hour."

Mr. Hancock i rekons that, with his carriage, he could keep up a speed of ten miles per hour, without injury to the machine."

Mr. Ogle states " that his experimental carriage went from London to Southampton, in some places, at a velocity of from thirty-two to thirty-five

hour. “ That they have ascended a hill rising one in six, at sixteen and a half miles per hour, and four miles of the London road at the rate of twentyfour miles and a half per hour, loaded with people."

“ That his engine is capable of carrying three tons weight, in addition to Mr. Summers adds, “ that they have travelled in the carriage at the rate of fifteen miles per hour, with nineteen persons on the carriage, up a hill one in twelve."

“ That he has continued, for four hours and a half, to travel at the rate of thirty miles per hour.”

“ That he has found no difficulty of travelling over the worst and most hilly roads."

Mr. James Stone states that “thirty-six persons have been carried on one steam carriage."

“That the engine drew five times its own weight nearly, at the rate of from five to six miles per hour, partly up an inclination.”

The several witnesses have estimated the probable saving of expense to the public, from the substitution of steam power for that of horses, at from one-half to two-thirds. Mr. Farey gives, as his opinion, “that steam

miles per

its own.

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