'The Edinburgh Steam Carriage', early 19th century.
3 3 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 25cm

'The Edinburgh Steam Carriage', early 19th century.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Coloured print after a drawing by I D Jones, showing a steam powered coach crowded with pasengers travelling through the countryside with a castle visible on a hilltop in the distance. The Scottish engineer and inventor William Symington patented a design for a steam-driven road vehicle as early as 1786, building a working model. In 1803 Richard Trevithick built a steam carriage capable of travelling at 12 miles per hour. By the 1820s and 1830s, steam coaches were operating between several British cities and towns, but opposition from powerful owners of horse-drawn coach operators led to the government imposing prohibitive tolls and speed restrictions on steam road vehicles, effectively driving them out of busines.

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