Sharing the Roads in the Early 1930s: The Rise in Road Accidents

“Appalling dangerous driving on the roads” Grandad Beck was quoted as saying by the Bridport News in 1935. In 1930 over 7,300 people were killed on the roads, compared with 1,700 in 2013. After the invention of motor engine the variety of road users increased as never before. The pedestrians, horses and horse drawn vehicles, and from the late Ninetieth century bicycles where joined by many forms of motorised vehicles. By 1930 there were approximately one million private cars in Britain.

The cases I have chosen to write about include some of the variety of road users. The first involve a Pony and cart in Bridport where the passengers landed on the pavement when they had a collision with a charabanc, a lovely name for a bus or coach. Cyclists also had to share the road with motor vehicles and these amounted to nearly 50% of traffic (see Traffic Regulated by Automatic Signals) and I have written about one of the many accidents between cars and cyclists.

Family of four, Mother sitting with baby on lap. Her Grandfather sitting next to her, with grandad Beck in uniform behind. Taken outside of the farm house
4 Generations. My Great, Great Grandfather Eli; Great Grandfather Arthur Beck; Grandmother May and Aunt Marion House. Taken at Wytherston Farm circa 1930

Continue reading “Sharing the Roads in the Early 1930s: The Rise in Road Accidents”

What Speed is that Motor Vehicle Doing?

One case in the Bridport News stood out for me because it gave me more information about my Great, Grandfather.

In October 1933 Grandad Beck was himself involved in a car accident as a passenger in a taxi. While giving evidence Grandad Beck said He had travelled thousands of miles with Foot (the taxi driver). Thousands, that sounds a lot, was he exaggerating or the Bridport News. I started to consider whether Grandad Beck had a car and drove. From newspaper reports of the Police Standing Committee I knew that some of the Dorset Superintendents received allowances for the use of their own cars on police business. Supt. Beck was not mentioned, therefore I can assume that he didn’t have a car. When I asked my father he said, “Grandad didn’t drive and always used a taxi”. When Grandad Beck visited Wytherston (our farm near Powerstock) he always came with the same taxi driver. Continue reading “What Speed is that Motor Vehicle Doing?”