Thursday, 13 February 2014

Old Newspaper Stories.

I have a new hobby, its reading old newspapers. That's not the chip paper that is full of crap that are published today. Its newspapers that are at least a hundred years old. Its amazing the number of interesting stories that can be found. Some of the old stories are boat related. I have one that I will be publishing on my blog about a boating disaster on the River Yare. Another involves children coming into contact with a large Pike. Old newspapers offer insight into our history and events as they were unfolding at that time. In the past, the only way to get hold of an old newspaper was at your local library where the back issues might have been preserved. The Internet has now made finding digitised copies of old newspapers much easier to find. More than anything else the letters page shines a light on how the public perception on any issue stands. We are all aware of cyclists on the towpath velodrome and the 'two tings' load of baloney that British Waterways and CaRT asked cyclist to adopt to stop accidents. 

The Etiquette of Bicycling from The London Daily News’ in August 1887.

Sir your correspondent "Shanks's Mare" appears to have been peculiarly unfortunate in his experience of cyclist. I have been a cyclist now for for some fifteen years, and have not discovered. any "growing taste" for the sport of startling old ladies by suddenly springing the bell upon them. I very much doubt whether such practise ever existed to any such extent as to warrant its inclusion in the category of recognised sports. Nor, in fact, can I call to mind any single instance in which I have witnessed this objectionable proceeding. The instinct of self preservation (to put the matter on no higher ground) is strong, and a cyclist, such as is here described, would not travel very long before he would find retribution overtake him. The difficulty, as every cyclist knows is to get some pedestrians to take notice of the warning bell or horn in narrow thoroughfares. On several occasions after ringing my bell and slackening the very moderate speed I indulge in. I have been asked in angry tones "why I could not ring my bell" although but a moment before some other person had sarcastically complimented we upon the "pretty music" I had been indulging in. "Shanks's  Mare" appears to combine the peculiarities of the two classes of pedestrians I have described (both of whom, by the way, invariably prefer the carriage-way to the footpaths), for in another part of his letter he positively accuses us of a great deal of unnecessary excessive bell and horn blowing. I maintain that to prove a case against cyclists, it is necessary to show that in proportion to their number cyclists are the cause of a greater number of accidents than the drivers of vehicles drawn by horses. Now, this is notoriously not the case. I have not the figures by me, but I believe that over 400 persons a year, or more than one person a day, are run over on the streets of London. How many of these accidents are caused by cycles yet its certain that cycles form an appreciable proportion to the total number of wheeled conveyances, for the Cyclists' Touring Club alone has over '22,000 members. 
Yours very obediently. F. M. Thomas, National Liberal Club, August 31.

Sir, Although I have been a bicycle rider myself and am much interested in the sport and pastime of bicycle riding. I can not refrain from joining my protest with that of your other correspondent against the selfish and in some cases dangerous practices indulged in by many thoughtless young men when mounted on the glorious wheel. In addition to the methods of startling nervous pedestrians already mentioned. practice prevails of endeavouring to ride closely as possible to a person whom it is necessary to pass on the road. Upon many occasions I have seen ladies greatly alarmed in this way and when other vehicles are near it might only too readily prove a greater source of danger. Whilst condemning the practice in bicyclist. It is right to state that drivers of horses attached to vehicles are by no means free from blame for precisely similar conduct. 
I am, W.T.A. Beare.
Some things never change.... 


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