Page:Omnibuses and Cabs.djvu/58

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Omnibuses and Cabs

a steam carriage that ran with anything like success. His "Improved Steam Carriage"—an ordinary barouche drawn by an engine instead of horses—accomplished some very creditable journeys, including a run from London to Bath and back at the rate of fifteen miles an hour.

The first real steam omnibuses, the "Era" and "Autopsy," were invented by Walter Hancock, of Stratford, and placed on the London roads in 1833. Hancock had invented steam carriages before Shillibeer's omnibuses wore introduced, but the "Autopsy" and the "Era" were the first which he constructed with the idea of entering into competition with the popular horse-drawn vehicles. The "Era" was the better omnibus of the two, and the most flattering things were said and predicted of it. Enthusiasts declared that the omnibuses of the "Era" type would enable passengers to be carried at a cheaper rate and greater speed than by Shillibeer's vehicles.

The "Era" ran from Paddington to the Bank, the same route as the horse-drawn omnibuses, and carried fourteen passengers, the fare being sixpence all the way. It travelled at the rate of ten miles an hour, and consumed from 8 to 12 lbs. of coke,