Isle of Wight Observer May 1885


The Ryde Pier company have for the last few years adopted a practice which is likely to do them more harm than good – the exclusion of members of the Press from their meeting. A special meeting of the company was held on the 2nd inst., to which our reporter made application for admission, but a reply was sent to the effect that they “had their own reporter”. It is a matter of indifference to us whether we publish the proceedings of the shareholders’ meeting, but we can inform the directors that this exclusion of the Press has made an exceedingly bad impression on the public mind, and the result is that people imagine the concern is in even a worse condition than it is, with the result of still further depressing the value of Pier shares. Nothing took place at the last meeting of shareholders which might not have been made public. The question for discussion was simply what form of locomotion should in future be adopted for the Pier Tramway. There appears to have been blunder after blunder made in regard to the Pier. Horse traction was found expensive, and was thrown on one side a few years since in favour of an engine, which was to be heated by means of gas. This wonderful contrivance was made on a strikingly original principle, and it was thought the maximum of power was to be obtained with the minimum of fuel, both in weight and expense. Alas for the anticipations of theorists! The engine could not be made to work satisfactorily with gas, and had to be heated in the ordinary way; but, as it was not adapted for ordinary fuel, it was constantly going wrong. Besides, it was too heavy, and when the directors had the Tramway Pier packed with an enormous quantity of gravel, the weight of the gravel and added to that of the engine was too much. The tram pier began to sink, and the locomotive, which had been a constant source of worry, was thrown on one side. Then the pier directors made arrangements with an electrician, named Brain, who was to have made an electric railway. But as this gentleman was unable to light up a ballroom for one night by means of electricity, it is not surprising that he signally failed with the electric railway. He seems to have imagined that he could do the whole of the work by means of secondary batteries, which were to be put underneath the seats of the carriages. The directors left Mr Brain to do the work and take the responsibility, and their only loss was a damaged carriage or so. But the result was that the electrician ruined himself, and has left England for the colonies in consequence. Now, a certain section of the directors, of whom Mr Gibbs and Mr Cudlipp are leaders, are trying to introduce electricity again, their model this time being the Brighton Electric Railway. After one failure, and in the face of statements that the railway at Brighton is only a toy one, and useless for real work, it is not surprising that quite an animated discussion took place at the meeting in question. The opponents of the electric railway wished to save the thousand pounds (its initial cost), and provide traction by an endless chain, which is one of the cheapest and most effective means of locomotion known for short distances. Their arguments were, however, wasted and, by a number of proxies, a majority of 1318 was secured in favour of electricity. We shall, therefore, either see one of these little toys running up and down the Pier, and (not improbable) another partial success, divided by a very thin line from failure. We do not mean to say that carriages will not go up and down the Pier by electricity, but we somewhat doubt whether the cost will not be greater both to construct and keep working than the endless rope would be.

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