Motor bus pioneer loses ticket to ride
On Sunday, about 9pm, ActingSergeant Hornibrook received a report that a man was apparently drowning in Ross Creek, cries having been heard in the water near Chapman’s timberyard. Searchers in a boat later found the body of a man near the centre of the creek opposite Stanley St. Personal papers suggested the unfortunate man was James Larkin, once employed at Alligator Creek. Constable Peterson reported having seen him about 11 o’clock on Sunday at South Townsville when he appeared to be suffering from the effects of liquor. There were no suspicious circumstances and it is believed the unfortunate man must have fallen into the water. MacRae’s Stadium, in Denham St will this evening be the scene of a thoroughly up- to- date and high- class entertainment, having for its object the raising of funds to benefit the General Hospital. In the midst of various calls on the generosity of Townsville citizens it is devoutly to be hoped that the needs ot this most deserving institution will not be overlooked. Madden owned it, and he was rightly proud of his pioneer motor bus.
He owned, also, the biggest team of horse buses running in Townsville but he realised that the motor had now got past the experimental stage of its evolution.
After six months’ tryout of the little Dennis, his ambition began to soar to wonderful heights.
Sandwiched in between the horse buses, the busy machine had shown splendid returns.
Then a big scheme to suddenly, at one stroke, motorise half of Townsville’s bus services began to generate in Madden’s brain.
Accountants and solicitors were interviewed, next was the manager of the Bank of New South Wales, and last but not least Mr J. K. Mehan ( manag- ing editor of the TD Bulletin). And, lo was born the Townsville Motor Omnibus Company.
The new company decided to put a fleet of nine motor buses on the streets of Townsville, and this at their earliest possible date.
Madden insisted that all the motors must be of the same make and one design, and that the makers of the successful order be obliged to also accompany the consignment with an engineer who thoroughly understood the running of the engines.
Behold! Mr [ J. H.] Tice, now of the Australian Automotive Agencies, arrived from England with a shipment of Dennis chassis of three tons capacity.
Unfortunately the company directors then decided Mad- den was too young and inexperienced to manage such a large concern.
That was first mistake.
In replacing Madden they dispensed with the only man who really understood passenger traffic.
One after another, mistake after mistake followed in quick succession, and the company went into liquidation.
But the worth of a good power- plant at the front of a bus instead of a pair of horses had by now been firmly established in the minds of anyone not biased.
The first big company had gone, but from the ruins grew, and grew, the very fine passenger services which connect our sprawling city today.
[ Townsville Daily March 18,1926]
Drivers and vehicles from the Townsville Motor Omnibus Co Ltd, The Strand rockface, c. 1912.