Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Heaton's Steam Carriage Co

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1833 September. Trial journey of the steam carriage. 'On Wednesday last, Messrs. Heaton, Brothers, of Birmingham, ascended Bromsgrove Lickey Hill with their new invented Steam Carriage. The hill, the surface of which is exceedingly loose and sandy, is about seven hundred yards long, and rises an average one yard in nine, and in some places one yard in eight, and is declared by the most eminent surveyors to the worst piece of road in the kingdom. Their machine, with a stage roach attached, fifteen hundred weight, and carrying nine persons ascended to the summit in nine minutes, in the presence of about two hundred spectators. They then took up the friends they had brought from Birmingham, twenty in number, with fire in addition, and proceeded on as Car the Market-place at Bromsgrove. There they turned the machine round and returned to the Crib Mill Inn. having accomplished about fifteen miles in two hours and twenty-two minutes, including stoppages. After staying a considerable time at the above inn, the returned home, calling at the various places on the road where they had before halted in the morning, and receiving the congratulations of their friends. They arrived at Birmingham, bringing with them up Worcester-street, an ascent of one yard in twelve, thirty-two persons. We understand it is the intention of Messrs. Heaton to proceed with the construction of other machines with suitable carriages, and to ply them on the roads in this neighbourhood.'[1]

1833 September. Prospectus to form the business. '...the practicability of efficiently propelling Carriages on common Turnpike Roads by Steam Engines, having been made manifest by the experiments realized by Messrs. Heaton, Brothers, in the ascent of their Steam Carriage up the Bromsgrove Lickey Hill, and in their journies to Coventry and Wolverhampton and back (the latter of which journey was performed three times, a distance of 84 miles, carrying upwards of thirty persons, in fourteen hours, under very unfavourable circumstances) renders the adoption of this mode of conveyance a very desirable object as regards both speed and expence, the cost being inconsiderable compared with the employment of horses. By Steam Carriages, passengers and goods may be conveyed through the country at a rate quite equal to the present speed of horses (say ten miles per hour) at an expence much under the present cost. Under the above circumstances, Messrs. Heaton, the Proprietors of an Invention for propelling Carriages on common Turnpike Roads, and for which they have obtained Letters Patent, propose to form Company to carry the same into effect; and that the Capital thereof shall be raised in 5000 Shares, at £10 each...'[2]

1833 October. Preparing to build four engines and to commence running next March.[3]

1834 April. 'Heaton's Steam Carriage has had partial trial, and as the shareholders think it a promising one, and the price still keeps up, the shares are about 46 shillings premium.'[4]

1834 April. Problems. 'We are authorised by the Committee of Heaton's Steam Carriage Company to state, that the result the experiments hitherto made with their engine has not proved satisfactory, and that they will shortly call a meeting the shareholders, to take into consideration communication made to the Committee by Messrs. Heatons'[5]

1834 May. '...After expending upwards of in endeavouring to effect steam travelling, Messrs. Heaton now retire from the field. Their candid and upright conduct throughout this business is highly honourable to them, and forms a striking contrast to the delusions practised elsewhere...'[6]

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Sources of Information

  1. Worcester Herald - Saturday 07 September 1833
  2. Birmingham Gazette - Monday 23 September 1833
  3. Birmingham Gazette - Monday 14 October 1833
  4. Leamington Spa Courier - Saturday 12 April 1834
  5. Leamington Spa Courier - Saturday 19 April 1834
  6. Leicester Chronicle - Saturday 24 May 1834