A Most Deliberate Swindle
Sep 28, 2017
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‘That London could have had electric buses a hundred years ago is extraordinary enough, but as Mick Hamer recounts with great panache, the reason it didn’t is even more extraordinary. This is a great tale, expertly told’ Michael Palin
How Edwardian fraudsters pulled the plug on the Electric Bus and left our cities gasping for breath
On a warm April morning in 1906 a crowd of expectant correspondents from London’s leading newspapers gathered at the Hotel Cecil in the Strand to view the new wonder of the age – the electrobus.
This clean, green machine was gearing up to take on the noisy, polluting petrol vehicle, which was just starting to replace the horse-drawn omnibus and surely had the potential to be a game changer in terms of what it would mean to Londoners and other city-dwellers who were already choking on petrol fumes.
Disastrously though, the London Electrobus Company was in the grip of a gang of greedy and fraudulent financiers, who systematically conned shareholders, looted the company’s coffers and drove the promise of the electrobus into the ground.
Rammed with fascinating characters and vividly capturing the Edwardian era, A Most Deliberate Swindle uncovers one of the biggest frauds in history and reveals why a century later this historic scam has left us all gasping for breath.
About the author
Mick Hamer has been a freelance journalist for more than 35 years, writing mostly for Fleet Street papers and news-stand magazines. For most of this time he was New Scientist’s transport consultant.
In 2001 he was short-listed in the Syngenta science writing awards.
Transport has been the focus of much of his journalism. He covered the public inquiries into the King’s Cross Fire, the Clapham rail crash and the Zeebrugge ferry disaster for several national media organisations.
Before becoming a journalist Mick Hamer worked for Friends of the Earth. In 1977 he became the first director of Transport 2000. He later worked on transport research at University College, London.
He lives in Brighton and has another life moonlighting as a jazz pianist.