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Registration History

Steam powered and road going vehicles saw a brief development and interest until the appearance of Britain’s first railways. It was in 1834 that Mr Hancock started a steam coach named ‘Era’ which could hold up to 14 passengers and take them from Paddington to Regents Park and the City. One year later Mr Church built an omnibus which could carry 40 passengers for the London and Birmingham Steam Carriage Company. Despite this, all traffic was driven off of the roads (excuse the pun!) because of the success of the railways. In 1836 a Parliamentary Commission of Enquiry reported that they were "strongly in favour of steam carriages on roads", however subsequent Acts of Parliament tended to have a discouraging and restrictive effect. The Locomotive Act 1861 restricted the weight of steam engines to 12 tonnes and put a speed limit of 10mph in force. The Locomotive Act 1865 then set a speed limit of 5 mph in the country and 3 mph in towns. This also provided for the then famous ‘man with a red flag. In front of each vehicle, a man with a red flag enforced a walking pace and warned horse riders and horse drawn traffic that a self-propelled machine was approaching. The red flag was made optional under local regulations in the Locomotive Amendment Act 1878 and the distance of warning was reduced to 20 yards. This, however did not make life any easier for the vehicle driver. Although British engineers were working on electrical and combustion engines and motor vehicles had been patented as early as 1882, they were never developed.