In transcribing the present article from the generally accurate texts provided by the Hathi Trust online version of this periodical, I have retained the original’s paragraphing and spelling. — George P. Landow

Railway Motor Omnibus, built by Messrs. Clarkson, Ltd., at Chemsford

Railway Motor Omnibus, built by Messrs. Clarkson, Ltd., at Chemsford from the 1905 Railway Times. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Article from The Railway Times for 4 November 1905

At the instance of Sir Charles J. Owens and Mr. Henry Holmes (superintendent of the line) the London and South Western Company have also brought into operation three 101d motor services—one between Exeter and Chagford, a second from Lymington to Milford-on-Sea and New Milton, and a third between Farnham and Haslemere. The last-mentioned is carried on by Messrs. Thornycroft & Co., Ltd., of Chiswick, with the co-operation of the South Western Company, who themselves maintain the other services. In each case the cars have to ascend steep inclines, and at times heavy loads must be carried; but if the omnibuses employed for the purpose prove, after lengthened trial, to be thoroughly reliable, the company are prepared to offer similar facilities in other districts which at present suffer serious disadvantage owing to the absence of means of regular daily intercommunication.It may here be added that the motor ’bus service between Havre and Etretat has proved an immense boon to travellers by the Southampton route to Northern France. The route between Exeter and Chagtord is extremely interesting — indeed, peculiarly charming during the summer months — and the new service has been cordially welcomed by residents and visitors alike. A severe test is imposed upon the cars by the character of the country, but the type of omnibus introduced promises to prove completely successful.

Preference has here been given to steam-propelled omnibuses, two of which have been supplied by Messrs. Clarkson, Ltd., of Chelmsford. Each vehicle is of 32 h.p., and the working steam pressure is about 300 1b. Tne generating agency is paraffin, vapourised on the vehicles, and condensers reduce to a minimum the escape of either steam or smoke. When empty, each car weighs 4 tons 8 cwt. Solid rubber tyres are employed—twin tyres on the rear wheels and a single tyre of a particularly durable type on the front pair.

The omnibuses are 11ft. high, 20ft. 6in. long, and 7ft. 3in. wide, accommodation being provided for twenty passengers. In many places large trees overhang the roads traversed. Consequently it is not possible to employ doubledecked cars, such as are seen in and around London, as also in many other neighbourhoods. In these circumstances, the roof of the Exeter and Chagford ’buses is used for luggage only, and this is carried daily in large quantities at very reasonable rates. On Friday—Exeter market day— when the London excursion trains are run, the number of passengers leaving Exeter for Chagford at 4.40 pm. has frequently been sufficient to fill both ’buses, and at such times the second is run as a relief to the other.

The road motor-’bus service between Lymington, Milford-on-Sea, and New Milton, inaugurated on July 19 last, is carried on by two similar steam vehicles, constructed at Chelmsford by Messrs. Clarkson, Ltd. Accommodation is provided by each for sixteen persons inside, and there are seats for two other passengers in the driver's cab, which is placed unusually high in order that he may have a clear view over the hedges. This arrangement contributes materially to the safe working through the narrow lanes, with their frequent sharp turnings. The outside seats during inclement weather can be completely enclosed by glass frames in front and canvas screens at each side. When desired, the vehicles call at Barton-on-Sea, and thus serve on the Hampshire coast three places which are yearly growing in popularity.

Representing 32h.p., the ’buses are capable of a speed of 15 miles an hour on the level, and when fully laden (with 15cwt. of luggage on the roof) will climb gradients of 1 in 8. Since the service was started several modifications have been shown to be desirable; but it may be taken for granted that every difficulty will be overcome, and that the facilities offered will be as much appreciated at Lymington as they are in other parts of the country.

The ’buses make eight journeys in each direction every week-day, and it is believed that a third vehicle, of the open type, may be needed for the summer traffic next year. Unqualified success has attended the working of the motor omnibus provided by Messrs. Thornycroft & Co., Ltd., to run between Farnham and Haslemere. It possesses a single deck, upon which sixteen passengers can be seated. A 24-h.p. engine is fitted. This engine—the cylinders of which have a bore of 4 1/4in. and a stroke of 5 in.—differs considerably from the 20-h.p. engine. Both the inlet and exhaust valves are mechanically operated, and, being on opposite sides of the engine, are interchangeable. Increased cooling surface is afforded by the fact that the cylinders are cast singly.

The lubrication is forced to all moving parts by means of a centrifugal pump fixed in the base of the crank chamber. The clutch, of the multiple-disc-friction type, is very elastic, taking up gradually or quickly without the slightest “jump”—a very objectionable feature on many clutches—and it can, if necessary, be “slipped ” in traffic, without fear of injury, until the ’bus reaches less than walking speed. Providing four different speeds and a reverse, the gearing is entirely encased and run in oil. The power is finally transmitted to the differential on the back axle by means of a Hans Renold roller-chain. Thornycroft’s patent spring drive is also used, by means of which the drive is transmitted through springs to brackets bolted directly on the felloe, thus entirely obviating any strain on the nave orthe spokes. This vehicle is provided with solid rubber-tyres, twin tyres being fitted to the driving-wheels, and the normal speed is 12 miles per hour.

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“Motor Omnibus Services.” The Railway Times. 88 (1905): 502-03. Hathi Trust online version of a copy in the Cornell University Library. Web. 7 September 2018.

Last modified 7 September 2018