Electrobus man’s fondness for ladies’ underwear

Horace Thornton only rates a footnote in A Most Deliberate Swindle (see p. 281) as the man who orchestrated a letter-writing campaign to persuade local councils of the advantages of the electrobus. Now fresh information has emerged casting new light on the character of the man.

Horace Thornton was closely associated with the electrobus enterprise. He was a director of several companies linked to the swindle, including Improved Electric Traction, the International Motor Traffic Syndicate and the Electric Vehicle Company, the company that made the electrobus.

Thornton had previously been the British representative of the Fischer Motor Vehicle Company, of Hoboken, New Jersey, which sold a petrol-electric hybrid bus to the London General Omnibus Company in 1903.

He continued to be associated with Edward Lehwess even after the electrobus scam had run its course. In 1911 Thornton became a director of Lehwess’s Asia Caoutchouc Trust, a company spawned by the rubber boom.

In 1914 Horace George Thornton, a company director, was charged with a series of frauds. He had ordered goods on account to be delivered from a number of up-market shops but then failed to pay for them. Among the charges were the theft of a Burberry overcoat and the failure to pay for ladies’ underclothing worth £15 4s. He was sentenced to nine months in Wormwood Scrubs.