THE SPEED OF A MOTOR CAR – 10th August 1906

Courier – August 10 1906, County Police –Wednesday

Before Mr T.W. Thursfield  (in the chair) and Mr A.W.Wise)


Edward Dennhardt, motor-car driver, residing at Willoughby, was summoned for unlawfully driving a motor car to the danger of the public at the Parish of Radford Semele on the 17th ult – Mr T.H.D. Ogden appeared for the defendant and pleaded not guilty. – Thomas Keyte, carrier, Harbury, said that on the 17th ult. he was driving his cart from Leamington towards Ufton.  It was a two-wheeled covered cart, and he had two passengers with him.  When he got to the turning of the Fosse Road to Harbury he was going at a walking pace.  He was on his proper side of the road.  When near the turn to the Fosse Road a motor passed him from behind.  He was in the act of turning his horse when the car dashed past.  It was going very fast, like a flash of lightning.  In his opinion the speed was 20 or 30 miles an hour. – Mr Ogden: I object to the question of speed in this case, as it is one of driving in a dangerous manner. – Witness said he could not give an accurate estimate, but the car was going very fast, and was in his opinion dangerous to the public.  He had turned his horse when the car went past, and the hood struck its head knocking a piece of flesh off its jaw.  If Witness had not pulled the animal’s head round it might have killed it.  He then pulled his horse up and ran down the road after the car, which stopped about 60 or 70 yards farther down.  He asked defendant for his name and address, which he refused to give.  Witness said that if he would not give his name and address he would take the number of the car.  There was a lady in the car with defendant.  He went back with defendant to where accident had happened and showed him the damage done.  Defendant said the lady has got 30 horses and that is not much.

Witness replied that he had only one horse and did not want that one killed.  Defendant went back to the car and backed it until he was almost opposite the cart.  Witness then asked the lady for the defendant’s name and address, but she also refused, saying that he had the number.  She asked him for his name and address which he gave her.   No horn had been blown before the car got up to him, and nothing was done to lead him to know that a motor car was behind him.  He had no idea that there was a motor car in the neighbourhood.  There was another road that branched off the main road on the left hand side just at the same place.  He thought the speed was very dangerous, especially at that part of the road. – Mr Ogden: –  When did you report the matter to the police?  Witness: – On the Tuesday – Mr Ogden: Did you not think the matter of sufficient importance to report it immediately?  Witness: –I did not see the policeman until the Friday, and I did not really know who to report it to.  – Mr Ogden: Can your write? – Witness:  Yes – Mr Ogden:  Why did you not write to him?  Witness: I thought I would wait until I could see him myself.  Mr Ogden:  What sort of a covering has your cart got?  Witness: It  is made of canvas. – Mr Ogden: How much is covered?  Witness:  All of it except the front.  Mr Ogden:  Is the back completely covered?  Witness: All except where there is a piece of glass to see if anything is coming behind.  Mr Ogden: How big is the glass?  Witness: About six inches square  Mr Ogden: How often do you use it?  Witness: As often as I think it necessary.  (Laughter)  Mr Ogden: Had you looked through it then? – Witness:  No.  Mr Ogden: How far could you see up the road?  Witness: About 300 or 400 yards.  Mr Ogden: Did you look round before you turned the corner?  Witness:  I did when I was bout 30 or 40 yards from the bottom of the hill.  Mr Ogden:  And not again?  Witness: No.  Mr Ogden: Don’t you think you ought to have looked again?  Witness:  I did not think anything was coming.  Mr Ogden: When did you start to turn?  Witness:  About 12 yards from the bottom of the hill.  Mr Ogden:  Does not the road widen out just there? Witness:  Not just there, but it does a bit farther up.  Mr Ogden:    How do you estimate the speed of the car? Witness:   Well I have seen the trains and they go fast, and this car was going about the same rate.  Mr Ogden:    But how do you know that it was not 50 or 60 miles an hour?  Witness:    Well, I did not think it was going as fast as that.  Miss Margaret Ainsley, a nurse, Harbury Heath, said that on the 17th ult she was riding to Harbury with the last witness.  She was sitting on the left side of the cart next to Mrs Keyte.  And Mr Keyte was on the right-hand side.  They were going at a walking pace, and Mr Keyte had just turned to go on to the Fosse Road when a motor car dashed past like a flash.  It hit the horse’s head, and if the last witness had not pulled the animal round there might have been a serious accident.  She heard the conversation between the last witness and defendant after they had left the car and gone to see the horse. Mr Ogden:   Did the car pass on the proper side? Witness:   Yes. Mr Ogden:   How fast was the car going? Witness:   I don’t know but it went past like a flash.  Superintendent Ravenhall: Did you hear a motor horn sounded? Witness:   No.  Emma Keyte, wife of the first witness, gave corroborative evidence.  Mr Ogden:   But surely when something dashed past would not a motor car be the first thing you would think of? Witness:  I did not know what it was until it stopped. Mr Ogden:   Was it a large motor? Witness:  A middle sized one Mr Ogden:  Surely you can tell a middle sized motor car when you see it.  Witness:    It was going too fast.   In defence, Edward Dennhardt said that he was drving Mr Loney’s car and just before he got to the place where the accident happened there was a hill, and he could see the road for about 300 yards, and when he was on the top of the hill he saw Keyte’s cart.  He had it in view the whole way down.  The cart was on its proper side of the road.  There was plenty of room for two vehicles to pass on the road, and he went to pass the cart on his right side.  Just as he was about to do so the horse was turned without any warning and his hood hit the animal on the jaw.  He was going 18 miles an hour at the time according to his indicator, and the engines were free.  He stopped the car within 20 yards of the accident.  He could have done so within 10 yards but did not think it necessary as it damaged the tyres.  It was not true that he did not pull up until he was 70 yards off.  His reason for stopping was to see if he had hurt the horse, and also to ask the driver why he turned without giving notice.  He had been a driver in England for four years, and had not been fined before.  His licence had not been endorsed.  Mrs Loney, Willoughby House, Rugby stated that she was in the car at the time of the accident, and was in the front seat and corroborated defendant’s evidence.  She said he had been in their employ for a year last January, and was a good and careful driver.  He had gone to them with excellent references from Lord Cairns.  Witness said she was nervous when in a motor car and would not allow her driver to go fast as she had been in a serious accident some years ago.  He was not driving in a manner dangerous to the public.  Mr Ogden said that the prosecution seemed to be based on the speed of the car and the fact that the driver did not sound his horn.  He did not think the speed could be considered because one witness had said she did not know that it was a motor car until it stopped.  As to the sounding of the horn, that was not enforced unless the driver thought it necessary, and in this case he did not as the cart made no motion of turning until he was level with it.  The magistrates retired to consider their decision, and on returning, the Chairman said they considered the case was proved against the defendant, and he would be fined £5 and costs £1.2s.6d.  They expressed an opinion that the horn should have been blown.  Mr Ogden gave notice of appeal.