Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Alfred George New

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1896 Prosecution. ' Its christening as a locomotive took place at Kingston-on-Thames Petty Sessions, where Mr Alfred George New, Palace - chambers, Westminster, appeared in answer to a summons charging him with driving a locomotive on the highway at Cobham, without having a license. That gentleman had fitted up an ordinary bicycle with a propelling apparatus, worked by an oil stove, and was testing it on the public road when a vigilant officer, who must have been studying the law on the subject, cried, "Hilloa! how does that thing work?" Mr New kindly explained the machinery, and showed how the motive power was got from oil. "Why, then, it is a locomotive," said the officer. "Have you got a license? Mr New possessed no document of the kind, but he had taken tho precaution to send a short distance in front two companions on bicycles propelled by feet. As messengers of warning, they carried red flags in their hands. This, however, was not sufficient, and he found himself before the Magistrates for being in advance of the law. He argued that, as a bicycle had only two wheels, it could not possibly be a locomotive, such a vehicle requiring three or more. The Magistrates held that two wheels, or, if necessary, only one, propelled by other than animal power formed a locomotive within the meaning of the Act. Oil combustion was not animal power any more than coals; therefore Mr New was clearly infringing the statute in acting as he did without a license. Fined 15s for breaking the by-laws, and a similar sum for neglecting to obtain a permit. The chief fact to be gathered from the case is the steady ascent in the social scale of the bicycle.' [1]

1896 Anthony George New and Arthur James Mayne both were registered as London Electors at 12 Palace Chambers, Westminster[2]. Hence this report would seem to mistaken and actually refers to Anthony George New


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Sources of Information

  1. Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough - Saturday 09 May 1896
  2. London, England, Electoral Registers