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  • Ghost Procession or New Invention? October 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    First the problems with dates. This appears in a 1913 newspaper and had been borrowed from the Observer, which had taken it from a newspaper from ‘A Hundred Years Ago’, named Drakard’s Paper. 1813, c. 1813? For the record this does not sound like a report from 1813, but why spoil a good story

    Wednesday, the 1st inst., a little before midnight, as one of the carriers betwixt Nottingham and Loughborough, was passing near the village of Rompstone, he was extremely surprised meeting what thought funeral procession, marching in the most solemn and steady order in the centre of the road. The carrier, with becoming propriety and decorum, drew his cart to the side of the road, so that the mournful cavalcade might pass without interruption. Very active inquiry was immediately afterward made in the neighbourhood, but not the least knowledge could be obtained to where this solemn group was come from, or whither they were going; it was, therefore, concluded that some ghostly apparition or other had thought proper to then and there exercising its nocturnal avocation.

    Or could there be another solution?

    However, it has since been found out that person who lives in neighbouring village has been endeavouring to construct a carriage upon such a principle as to go without horses, and wishing to make his experiment as secret as possible, he had chosen that dead hour of the night, for trying his apparatus on the turnpike road; but, unluckily meeting with the carrier, he became alarmed for fear of exposure, and therefore, threw a large sheet over the machinery, and passed the cart as still as possible to avoid being detected. It is difficult to say which of the parties was most alarmed on the occasion.

    Beach has serious doubts about horseless carriages being invented c. 1813 in the Loughborough area. Is this just a c. 1913 invention or is there something behind this? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    Bruce T writes 31 Oct 2017: There was a Frenchman who was fooling around with a similar “carriage” in the 1780s, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot. It was large, cumbersome, and barely traveled at a walking pace. Two, it tore up the local roads and fields he was testing it on, making him unpopular with the locals. His invention was shelved. Perhaps our English inventor saw his designs in the post-Revolutionary or post-Napoleonic era and built a variation? I’m sure some reader with a better memory than mine and a penchant for odd early inventions will chime in. I’ve ran across the story of the invention in several books on innovations in transportation. It seems to me it was powered with a rudimentary steam engine and referred to as a “tractor”? I think it was intended to be a carriage for heavy cannon? I’ve seen sketches of thing by people who reportedly saw it. It looked like an elongated frame of the tanks debuted on the Western Front in 1916, except it was made mostly of wood. there’s a nice Wikipedia article on him and photo’s of the behemoths. A fellow demonstrated a more conventional horseless carriage in London in 1803. It’s hard to tell how many aristocrats and wealthy commoners with money and time on their hands with a taste for big toys were constructing those things in their barns in the British countryside in the decade after hearing about it?