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Title: The origins of the motor car in Britain, 1769-1881.
Authors: Nicholson, T. R. (Timothy Robin)
Award date: 1979
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: The motor car in Britain today is part of the furniture: an integral end unavoidable part of our daily lives. Yet its earliest beginnings in the age of steam - from the first private self-propelled vehicles to the immediate precursors of the modem motor car - have never until now been investigated in depth. Nor, among the slabs of narrative end technical specification that have passed for early motoring history, have the how and the why of events been fully explained. In the course of this, the first such study, some major half-truths and over-simplifications that have become received dogma are revealed in their true, more complex guise. Among them is the tale that the steam vehicles of the l830 were driven off the roads by organised hostility on the part of the coaching end turnpike interests. Propagandists found it convenient to create such distortions in order; to excuse ignorance, incompetence and blind self-seeking; since then they have brome articles of faith. Most bizarre, perhaps, is the revelation that it was the leaders of the self-propelled vehicle interests who themselves recommended the adoption of that later-execrated symbol of official tyranny, the red flag. If it is to make sense, the story of the motor car cannot be isolated from the general context of the world that gave birth to it. Stage coach economics, highway administration, the horse in society, and the Parliamentary, social end technological vicissitudes of such apparently unrelated machines as the steam coach, the railway train and the traction engine all touched the embryo motor car more or less closely. Among the incidental rewards of a necessarily vide-ranging approach is the tale, never told before of the ex-convict who imported English steam coaches into Australia; and the truth - at last - about road locomotives in the Crimean War. It is a story of failure, but unless it is told, the victory of the petrol motor car, which was just around the comer, cannot be understood. Indeed, with all its ramifications the story of the Victorian motor car, few in numbers though it was, must to a significant degree is the story of Victorian Britain.
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: Ph.D.
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Historical Studies
Leicester Theses

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