Glossop Heritage Trust

Theo Walter Ellison's Glossop Dale Reminiscences.

Travel by Road and Rail, Continued (published 22 March 1935).

A great shock was inflicted upon the travelling public by the general railway strike on Saturday, 27th September 1919, and much inconvenience and expense experienced by those who were returning from holidays or business at the week-end. I was staying at the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, and due to return by train to Glossop for the reception I was giving in the afternoon at the Town Hall to the members of the Council and principal officials of the Corporation. No trains were running and the stations were closed; every motor vehicle and taxicab had already been chartered, some for journeys as far as Edinburgh and London. Fortune favoured me on calling at a well known motor works, by the arrival of the manager, to whom I explained my predicament and the importance of my presence in Glossop. Remarking that it would be like playing ‘Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark’, he courteously entered into the spirit of the occasion and gave me the choice of a chassis with an orange box for a seat, or a motor lorry, for which I expressed my grateful thanks and accepted the motor lorry, upon which, with my trunks, I journeyed to Glossop via Warrington and Stockport without delay or mishap, beyond a burst tyre, speedily replaced, and so was in time for one of the most enjoyable events of my life – although it did not mark my retirement as Town Clerk.

Descending from more imposing to less pretentious though exceedingly useful modes of travel on wheels, the bicycle and tricycle have quite an army of devotees. I remember the ‘bone shaker’ in the seventies, with its two wooden wheels of equal diameter, like two miniature cart wheels, also the ‘penny farthing’ bicycle, with one large wheel with double web like spokes and hard india rubber tyres. The tricycles in vogue in the eighties were in the shape of a large wheel on one side, and two small wheels of equal size for and aft, on the other side, and there were also tandem of sociable (side by side) machines, and some were convertible. F.C.J. Hadfield, the surveyor, possessed a tandem, which I rode several times with him, and afterwards he induced me to purchase a machine converted into a single, and I rode it laboriously over rough and uneven roads to Marple, Gee Cross, and even to Manchester, but was glad to dispose of it.

Gradual and steady improvements in their construction produced an increased demand, especially for bicycles. At Coventry I have seen scores of employees rushing to and from their work in the dinner hour, and at Oxford the midday rush of undergraduates and students. Motor vehicles have, however, seriously affected the use of cycles, and many employees live in the country a few miles away from the town in which they work and travel by small cars or motor cycles.

Following my serious illness in 1920, which necessitated a long convalescence, I conceived the idea of again riding a tricycle. An excellent machine was specially made for me by a Birmingham firm, which was a delight to ride on the Cheshire roads, but the uneven state of the roads caused two mishaps, and so far sustaining a fractured collar bone, several bruises and a severe internal injury, I reluctantly relinquished cycling – which in view of the fast traffic on the roads was neither safe nor agreeable.

Yet one other and attractive mode of travel seldom seen in these days of mild winters, sleighing. The sweet tinkle tinkle of the bells, the pretty picture of the sleigh drawn by a couple of horses often driven in tandem, gliding gracefully over the snow. Dr Pomfret, Dr Harold Wylde and I think Herbert Rhodes indulged in this delightful mode of conveyance when conditions permitted. My one and only experience ended in not quite dignified fashion, as on returning from Woodhead, on the Derbyshire side, having lingered somewhat and the snow having partly disappeared by thaw, we met frequent patches of bare surface which brought the horses up sharply and necessitated dismounting and assisting the horses to the next snow covered stretch.

Now, motor vehicles reign supreme, and horsemen, coachmen, cyclist and pedestrians most exercise vigilance.

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Page last updated: 25 September 2017.
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