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SMITH’s house furnisher removal contractors. 1914

SMITHs house furnisher removal contractors 1914 Taunton Somerset

I recently bought this postcard postmarked for 1914. I have printed it in colour here. Smith’s delivery wagon is shown being pulled by a traction engine.

The addresses given here are East St. and Church Square. J. Smith had his china warehouse at 21 East Street in 1902. The premises later became Smith’s Furnishing Stores and was still operating in the 1930s.

By the 1960s number 21 East St. housed The Hampshire Furnishing Company. Later after enlargement the premises became Economy House. Chapman’s of Taunton also used steam vehicles. In this postcard Mr Smith is asking Reynolds and Co. of Bedford for a quotation to hire a steam wagon for a removal from Taunton to Brighton on a months hire.Many people think that the ‘Red Flag Act’ was used particularly to restrain motor cars. The initial act was ‘The Locomotive Act’ of 1861 amended in 1865 and known as ’The Red Flag Act’. This came into being when steam vehicles started to appear on our roads. Steam vehicle speed was restricted to 4 MPH and 2 MPH in towns. A man walked in front with a red flag. Concern centred around damage to the roads caused by heavy vehicles and conflict with horse drawn traffic.

Speed limits were increased to 12 MPH in 1898. The ‘Motor Car Act’ appeared in 1903 the consequence of which was that vehicles had to be registered and display a number plate. (Somerset’s first registration being Y 1).

A number of traction engines and steam wagons were used by King of Bishop’s Lydeard. The auctions at King’s Yard have gone down in steam legend as many wagons and traction engines were sold and restored and can be seen at rallys today.

The traction engine, in the form recognisable today, was developed by an experiment in 1859 when Thomas Aveling modified a Clayton and Shuttleworth portable engine which had to be hauled by horses into a self propelled one. Eventually petrol engined vehicles took over but during World War One heavy guns were mounted on traction engine wheels to make portable howitzers.

Ironically around 1903 Beech and Son of Taunton developed and tested on Taunton’s roads a steam car. You may well wonder if it would be cheaper to run than petrol today.

By Nick Chipchase

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