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The Traction Engine

Nov 28, 2017
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One of my favourite books is ‘Before the lamps went out,’ by Esme Wingfield-Stratford, his account of growing up in Edwardian England. Here he recalls the advent of the Traction Engine.
“But mechanical transport had begun to have its say on the roads; the most familiar and pleasant sound of all being a contented chugging and puffing, that never seemed to stop and hardly to go on. If one went to investigate, which was as often as one was allowed, one would be rewarded with the majestic approach of a traction engine – a spectacle of joy to me, but of fear and grievance to certain of my elders. For the traction engine in those days signified the intrusion of the iron horse upon the quiet ways sacred to the flesh and blood species.

Horses in these days will plod their way among a spate of furiously honking motors with the placidity of cows, but then all the authorities’ appeared  to be agreed that the mere sight of one of these belching monsters was enough to make then shy, bolt, and involve their human cargo in probably fatal accidents.”

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