Traffic regulated by automatic signals is “marvellous”

I wrote about the installation of traffic signals in May 1935, at the Town Hall Bridport in a previous post, Bridport Gets Road Traffic Signal Lights at Dangerous Corner. In 1934, Bridport Borough council discussed the need for these lights and also wanted a set at another dangerous corner, close by, at Barrack Street – this is the road going North from the town centre, which is no longer a through road. Traffic lights were eventually installed at Barrack Street and remain in use until the bypass was opened.

When researching this post I was surprised at the number of bicycles in the town. Perhaps I should have realised that in the early part of the 20th Century, bicycles were relatively cheap and faster than walking. There was no mention of horses or horse drawn vehicles, this is most likely because they were not included in the count or possibly because there were none in Bridport that day.

My Great, Great Grandfather, Eli Beck

Eli Beck is seated in a garden, wearing a bowler hat and with a white handkerchief showing from his top jacket pocket. He has a fine set of whiskers down from his hair and under his chin. The photo is posed with him holding what looks like a card in his hands.
Eli Beck

Grandad Beck’s father Eli died at Poole in March 1934 Aged 82 . This sepia photograph shows Grandad Beck’s Father, Eli Beck as a well-dressed, elderly gentleman. I have seen pictures of Eli looking older than this, so though he looks as though he is into retirement, I think it was taken a while before his death. He looks a friendly gentle man, who often smiles and laughs.

Traffic signals for Town Hall corner

In April 1934 The Bridport News reported the need for traffic signals at the Town Hall, following an accident between a private car and a national bus on Sunday evening. This up-to-date means of controlling traffic has been adopted in many towns with a marked degree of success. It is hoped that the local authority will take steps to introduce this device, the efficiency of which is constantly being proved.

In May 1934 the Bridport councillors discussed the provision of traffic signals at the Town Hall and Barrack Street corners. Alderman Knight, Chairman of the Highways Committee, stated that the Automobile Association had complained about the dangerous corner of South Street and East Street and offering warning signs for erection. The Committee, however, recommended that an application should be made to the County Council for automatic signals to be erected at the Town Hall and Barrack Street corners.  The Mayor (Mr. S. J. Gale) said he had travelled down from London and was greatly impressed by the way traffic was regulated by these signals. “It was really marvellous”, he added.

As it would take time for the county council to consider this, Alderman Reynolds suggested that a white line with the word “Stop” should be painted on the road at the top of South Street. Providing drivers obeyed this they would be able to see traffic coming east and west. This would cost little and obviate a good deal of danger which at present existed. Alderman Knight and Cornick agreed this was an excellent suggestion.

At the same meeting a lorry belonging to the Central Road Transport Company which had mounted the pavement in Barrack Street was discussed. The councillors had some diversion of opinion as to what action should be taken in regard to the driver. The Town Clerk pointed out that according to the daily press the number of deaths on the road was up 30 per cent. And he really thought something should be done to check this loss of life. It was held by some of the council that if they prosecuted the driver he might be dismissed, a serious warning should be give to the person concerned. It was explained that the police had the matter in hand.

In November 1934 the Highways Committee of Dorset County Council reported that they were going to put traffic signals at Bridport Town Hall. At Barrack Street corner the committee considered that a “major road ahead” sign would be sufficient and “Stop” painted on the road. At the same time the Highways Committee were considering a pedestrian crossing at the top of South Street. Bridport Deputy Mayor hoped the Council would agree. “I believe,” he said, “that these pedestrian crossing are going to be of as great importance in the future as are stops for motorists today”.

Traffic Census

The town Surveyor undertook a census of traffic on September 5 1934 between 7am and 11pm, in connection with the proposed traffic signals. At the Town Hall corner 5,600 vehicles and 4,570 bicycles passed. 4,068 Vehicles and 3,096 passed the Barrack Street junction. This means that in 1934 bicycles accounted for just under half of all traffic (44%) in Bridport .

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All original content by Sylvia Collins is copyright protected.

Ref: Quotes in italics
The Bridport News 13 April 1934.
The Bridport News 11th May 1934
The Bridport News 12th October 1934
The Bridport News 16th November 1934

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