A Smoky Traction Engine at Conisborough – The “Difficulties” Of An Engineer

August 1888

Mexborough and Swinton Times August 3, 1888

A Smoky Traction Engine at Conisborough
The “Difficulties” Of An Engineer

Frederick Wilson, traction engine driver, of Conisborough, was charged with “using a locomotive propelled by steam that did not consume its own smoke,” at Denaby on the 20th July.

Defendant, in answer to the charge, admitted that there was smoke, but he was not near any buildings; he was quarter of a mile off.

Police constable Midgley stated that on the date named he was on duty in Doncaster Road, Denaby, and saw a traction engine, driven by the defendant, come over the railway crossing, and after going a little way along Doncaster Road, turn up Denaby Lane towards Kilnhurst.

Immediately the engine got on the Lane it began to emit black smoke, very bad. Witness watched it some distance, but it still kept on, and then he followed the engine for a quarter of a mile, and said he should report the defendant. A man who was with witness passed the remark that the smoke was something fearful. When he served the summons on the defendant he used fearful language towards witness, and cursed and swore most abominably.

Defendant: You are a false man. What were you talking to my sister about? You said what you would do at them; what do you say to them? Did you say you came from somewhere?

Police constable Midgley said that defendant’s wife and sister asked him when he came from, and he said he came from Denaby and had come with the summons. He denied asking defendant sister where she was married or not, and she did not reply that he had a cheek and immediately sent for defendant out of the garden. Witness did not say when defendant came that he did not expect to see him at home.

Defendant: What were you asking my sister whether she was married or not? – I never did ask her.

Well, of course, I can’t say you did; I hear you, but she said you did. I said to you, “Good day, and don’t call me like that again, didn’t I?” – You did not; you swore.

In further cross-examination, police constable Midgley said defendant was not 40 yards off any buildings when he emitted black smoke.

Defendant said it was a regular practice for the police to watch the men “fire up,” and then pull them up afterwards, so as to emit black smoke. It was impossible where the constable said he saw black smoke that there should be any, because it was on the rise, and anybody knew that the exhaust steam prevented black smoke. It was a regular thing for everybody to fire up going up a hill, because then the exhaust steam got into the smoke.

He had come from High Melton, and had got down as far as the brickyard at Denaby. He passed the constable in Doncaster Road before he turn of Denaby Lane, and moved to him, and there was not one “iotum” smoke at that place. He had never “fired up” all the way from the Mexborough low pastures, and he was particularly not to have occasion to fire up going through Denaby. So particular was he that he should not offend that he had actually put on the brake on a level road, so as to cause the exhaust steam to mix with the smoke, however little.

But he was a regular practice for the police to stop them, and then, of course, there was no exhaust steam, and the smoke was sure to be black. Under any pretext whatever the would get them to stop to catch them. He thought it was a scandalous shame, but as he had no witnesses he guessed he would have to put up with it.

There were five previous convictions against the defendant in the Doncaster West Riding Court for offences against the Locomotives Act, and he was now fine 20 shillings including costs, the chairman remark that it appeared he was an old offender.

Defendant: it is a daylight robbery, there is nowt about that.