10 days in jail for driving a tricycle at 17mph (or a fine of 10 shillings)

Long Ago, There Was Justice On Earth

This is a report from March 1899:

At the Bradford City Police Court, on the 6th inst., Robert R. Jackson, of 73 Horton Lane, secretary of the Yorkshire Motor-Car Company, Limited, was summoned before the Stipendiary Magistrate (Mr. C. Skidmore) for furiously driving a motor-tricycle. Police-Constable Marshall stated that on Saturday afternoon, February 25th, his attention was directed to the defendant, who was driving a motor-tricycle at an excessive speed.

The defendant travelled round the Town Hall a number of times; a large crowd assembled, and there were several narrow escapes. Witness stated that he took observation of the time occupied in passing from one point to another, and afterwards measured the distance. He found that the cycle travelled 250 yards in 30 seconds, or at the rate of seventeen miles an hour. The defendant admitted the offence, and explained that he was testing the brake power.

bradford_city_hall_in_black_and_white_taken_by_flickr_user_10th_june_2012
Bradford Town Hall, scene of the crime

Mr. Skidmore: Good gracious! Testing brake power round the Town Hall!

Defendant: It was perfectly safe.

Mr. Skidmore: It was safe for you, but not for other people. The road is meant for everybody, but people with carriages and bicycles seem to think that they have a monopoly.

The constable’s evidence was corroborated by Mr. Henry Bright, tramways manager, who said that he was driving at the time, and that if he had not pulled the horse upon its haunches a serious collision would have occurred. The Deputy Chief Constable (Superintendent Byng) stated that numerous complaints had been received respecting the furious driving of motor-cycles in Manningham Lane.

Defendant: It was a new motor, and I was, perhaps, overjoyed with the success of it.

Mr. Skidmore: These gentlemen were not overjoyed. Most valuable lives are sometimes contained in the Town Hall. (A laugh.) It is quite dangerous enough crossing the square with the tram engines, without any new terror being added.

Mr. Skidmore proceeded to caution the defendant that any future offence would be severely dealt with. It was intolerable that motor enthusiasts should use their machines in such a manner through overjoy, and to the danger of the public.

A fine of 10s. and 12s. costs was imposed, with the alternative of ten days’ imprisonment.

***

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