Coat of arms from door of Goldsworthy Gurney steam coach, 1827.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Influenced by meeting Richard Trevithick, the pioneer of steam propulsion, Cornishman Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (1793-1875) built a steam-powered road vehicle himself in 1823. In 1829, he succesfully travelled from Bath to London and back at a sustained speed of 15 mph in a steam carriage. His plans for a regular pasenger service using steam-driven road vehicles came to nothing however, as the powerful operators of horse-drawn pasenger transport joined forces to ensure that Gurney, and others, were forced out of busines. Roads were physically obstructed, and the government was persuaded to levy crippling road tolls on steam coaches.