Please welcome Liza O’Connor back to the blog! Today she’s talking about automobiles and her latest book, The Missing Partner, not on pre-order.
Because we like book giveaways, she will give a copy of The Troublesome Apprentice to someone who tells her you want the book!
Why it took years for England to get its first car.
In 1895, the Honorable Evelyn Ellis purchased and brought the first automobile in England. It was a Panhard-Levassor from France.
The Panhard-Levassor had been available for sale since 1890 in France. Thus, in my story, I have my character, Mr. Robinson buy the car in 1894 upon hearing the Hon. Ellis planned to buy one.
The reason why wealthy Englishmen weren’t importing cars as their latest amusement since 1890 was because the 1865 Locomotive Act stated that self-propelled vehicles could not travel faster than 4 mph. (Egads! A horse can canter at 12-17 miles. This restriction would be like trading in a horse for a pregnant cow.)
Originally a man with a red flag had to walk before the vehicle, but that was revoked by the time Ellis bought his auto. But the speed restriction continued to thwart the auto industry in England.
Weary of waiting for Parliament to act, Ellis boldly engaged the French company to build a car to his specifications (steering device on the left, Daimler engine), which was brought by boat to England and train to Hampshire. Then the Honorable Evelyn Ellis drove his new toy home, sometimes at 5 times the legal speed limit. No officer of the law stopped him on the well promoted journey.
Mr. Fredrick Simms was Mr. Ellis’s companion on this maiden passage and he wrote a journal which was published for all to read. Here is a bit of what the fellow had to say:
We were not without anxiety as to how the horses we might meet would behave towards their new rivals, but they took it very well and out of 133 horses we passed only two little ponies did not seem to appreciate the innovation.
On our way we passed a great many (horse drawn) vehicles of all kinds as well as cyclists. It was a very pleasing sensation to go along the delightful roads towards Virginia Water at speeds varying from three to twenty miles per hour, and our iron horse behaved splendidly. There we took our luncheon and fed our engine with a little oil.
The trip was completed in 5 hours and 32 minutes (not including stops) at an avg. speed of 9.84 mph.
Ellis loved to give his friends rides in his car, and one passenger was Edward, the Prince of Wales, later to be King Edward the VII. Ellis’ speed terrified the poor fellow. (He was about 54 yrs old when he took this ride. While I can find no evidence that he rode with Ellis again, he did ride with other drivers and became a strong supporter of the automobile industry.)
To stop the honorable Ellis and many other high gentry from constantly breaking the law, Parliament attempted to fix the problem in the Locomotive Act in 1895, but sadly the standing Parliament fell and the bill was delayed until November of 1896, when a new Parliament allowed automobiles to drive 8 to 16 mph (local authority’s discretion).
So why did my character not get credit for having the first car in England?
Because the man turned out to be a white slaver and was sent to prison. His car was sold to reimburse the poor servants he’d abused. He didn’t deserve historical mention. Also, he’s fictional and history mostly ignores those type of people.
Here is a rare color photo of the actual car that Ellis drove.
Did I time-travel to take this pic? No. It’s a staged shot with modern people dressed up as Victorians. But the car is actually the one Ellis drove. The lady is a descendant of Ellis’ and the gentleman is the Director of the Science Museum….hmmm, perhaps there was some time traveling involved.
I’ll investigate at a later date why, if the first car had the steering wheel on the left, how Britain ended up being a right sided driving country.
The Adventures of
Xavier & Vic
The Missing Partner
By Liza O’Connor
Cases to be Resolved:
The ‘New Woman’ Who Lost Her Old Mind
The Lost Servant of Dante’s Hell
The Disappearance of a Very Important Man
The Abduction of Sneaky Snake by a Grand Elephant
The Cat Who Wore Too Much
Vic Hamilton takes the reins of the investigation office, while Xavier Thorn disappears on an assignment for the British government. Her caseload is entirely ‘lost and recovery’ cases. In the midst of solving all her client’s problems, she learns that the government has lost Xavier. With the help of the gypsy pirate Jacko, and her driver Davy, Vic rushes against time to rescue everyone.
Most alarming, she befriends and hires a dangerous criminal as an employee of Xavier Thorn’s Private Inquiries—without Xavier’s permission.
Despite Mr. Robinson’s instructions to his butler to assist Victor, she sensed Jonston did not relish his assignment. He sat stiff and rigid on the edge of the chair with an expression of stoic suffering.
Victor studied him, wondering how to penetrate his armored shield. She decided to sneak in, using the unreasonable employer card. “How many people work here?”
“Thirty-two in total. Eleven in the gardens, nineteen in the house and two in the auto shed.”
Jonston sniffed as if a foul odor assailed him. “Mr. Robinson has purchased an automobile.”
“Ever since he’d heard the Honorable Evelyn Ellis intended to acquire a Panhard-Levassour, Master Robinson wanted to buy one, as well. A month ago, he purchased the contraption and hired two men to keep it running.”
“Where does he drive it?”
“Wherever there are horses to frighten,” Jonston replied in aggravation. “It’s an ugly thing. A little dogcart with giant wheels. Makes a ghastly noise.”
The Troublesome Apprentice
Book 1 is free 9/15-9/21
Want a free copy of The Troublesome Apprentice?
Leave me a humorous comment with your email address below.
The Missing Partner
Available for Pre-order
First, I got tired of telling my proper blog. Now, I’m tired of telling my improper bio. So what’s left?
Liza O’Connor was born, raised badly, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast…and employment, there were no jobs in the Mid-west. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved normally. All those bad behaviors has given her lots of fodder for her humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. And given her past, they will likely traumatize you.
Mostly humorous books by Liza:
Saving Casey – Old woman reincarnates into troubled teen’s body. (Half funny/half traumatizing)
Ghost Lover—Two British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. There’s a ghost cat too. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)
A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)
Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.
Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.
Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.
Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.
The Troublesome Apprentice — The greatest sleuth in Victorian England hires a young man who turns out to be a young woman.
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