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Steam Carriage, 1834

Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

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Keywords: boiler explosions, boilers, disasters, road accidents, Steam Carriage Co of Scotland, steam carriages, steam engines

A drawing of one of the steam carriages which operated between Glasgow and Paisley in the early 1830s.

The steam carriage was designed by Parkhead-born John Scott Russell (d 1882) and his firm the Steam Carriage Co of Scotland built six of them in 1834. They were originally intended for a Glasgow-Edinburgh service but the road trustees objected and the company owners decided to operate a service between Glasgow and Paisley instead. It commenced in March 1834 and carried up to forty passengers at speeds of up to 20 mph. Each carriage carried a crew of three green-uniformed men. The engineer/driver sat above the engine and boiler at the rear of the carriage, controlling the throttle. The fireman stood on the step below him to shovel coal into the boiler. A steersman sat on the front perch. The carriage pulled a trailer which carried coal, water, and more passengers.

The Glasgow-Paisley service departed hourly from its termini at George Square and Paisley's Tontine Hotel, but there were rumours that the road trustees became annoyed at damage done or imagined to be done by the machines to the road surface as they careered along. In July 1834 a carriage struck a heap of road metal that (it was rumoured) had been piled up intentionally in its path at Halfway House in Craigton. The carriage toppled over, the boiler exploded, and four passengers were killed and many more people were injured. The service was discontinued but two of the steam carriages subsequently operated in London.

Reference: GC 941.435 OLD

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning



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