Mick Hamer receiving the popular transport book award from RCHS president Mike Clarke. Photo: Tim Edmonds

In May 2018 A Most Deliberate Swindle was named popular transport book of the year by the Railway and Canal Historical Society. “The story is compellingly told [and] sources are comprehensively annotated,” said Philip Brown who chaired the panel of judges, One of his fellow judges commented: “this is the sort of book that makes you want to read it at one sitting.”

At the awards ceremony, which was held in Wrexham, Philip Brown said: “The author presents an explanation which reads like a crime who-dunnit, with a cast of professional city fraudsters worthy of the best crime fiction. The story has been extensively researched amongst company returns, records of court cases and the press, including the ‘reptile press’ – journals published by unscrupulous operators designed to offload dubious company shares onto unwitting members of the public.”

More details about the award can be found on the society’s website:https://rchs.org.uk/book-awards/2018-book-award-winners/

Since its publication in September 2017 A Most Deliberate Swindle has been widely praised. Here’s a sample taken from some of the published reviews and comments.

This is a great story – with big implications for today. It shows that if fraudsters hadn’t got in the way we could have had fleets of electric vehicles on our streets for the last 100 years, avoiding much of the pollution we now have to deal with. A great read.
Stephen Joseph, CEO, the Campaign for Better Transport

Had Edwardian London’s electric buses not been run by crooks chances are that the internal combustion engine would not have dominated the 20th century, said New Scientist. Hindsight is a wonderful thing: the bus fiasco reminds us that superior technologies don’t always win out and that the market doesn’t always make rational choices. With the development of clean energy technology at a crossroads a historical perspective on roads taken and not taken is more relevant than ever. New Scientist, 9 September 2017.

The clean, quiet electrobus looked set to be stiff competition for the city’s lumbering, petrol-guzzling omnibuses. Yet, as Mick Hamer reveals in this accomplished exposé, it was a doomed debut. The London Electrobus Company was packed with swindlers…whose fraudulent activities sank the venture, ensuring the internal combustion engine’s problematic dominance in transport.
Barbara Kiser, Nature, 28 September 2017

Hamer tells a splendid story splendidly, but there’s more to it than an anecdote of what has been described as the City of London’s golden age. The taint of fraud, Hamer argues, was why electric vehicles lost out to the internal combustion engine, with horrific consequences for humanity.
Michael Cross, Law Society Gazette, 29 September 2017

It is not just fast-growing cities like Beijing or Delhi that are reeling from the effects of vehicle pollution. At least 40,000 deaths in London each year are attributed to outdoor air pollution, much of it the result of the noxious fumes emitted from internal combustion engine-driven cars, trucks and buses, particularly those fuelled by diesel.

Yet, as investigative journalist Mick Hamer writes in his excellent new book A Most Deliberate Swindle, much of this pollution could have been avoided.
Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, 30 October 2017

These vehicles were a new concept and the future did look promising…It is sad to read of the greed, corruption, theft, and dishonesty of the individuals who set up the company, and who continued their activities leading to termination of the Electrobus project…Hamer’s superb research certainly completes the story…
Keith Roberts, Journal of the Road Transport History Association, November 2017

Greatly enjoyed it, a great bit of investigation of a century-old scandal.
Christian Wolmar, transport historian and author of Railways and the Raj, 1 December 2017

A well-written, fascinating exposé which takes an original approach to an aspect of transport history. It is an excellent and illuminating read and highly recommented.
Tim Edmonds, Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, March 2018

This pacey, graphically related business thriller is aptly titled ‘A most deliberate swindle’, which is how two aggrieved shareholders described the London Electrobus Company…

The story disclosed a succession of insubstantial and dishonest financial ‘backers’ fictitious names, people who were not what they made out to be, shady international deals, blackmail, intrigues by supporters of motor vehicles and even a class alcohol-fuelled brawl in a restaurant…

Hamer’s background in investigative journalism and his determination to get to the bottom of elusive half-truths shine through the narrative..

Martin Higginson, Journal of Transport History, February 2018

From Victor Lustig, the man who sold the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal, to the elaborate hustles immortalized in the movie The Sting, the exploits and imagination of the con man seem to know few bounds. Want proof? Here’s a trio of true crime books where the con takes center stage.

Let’s start with a cutting-edge technology that offers investors a surefire bet on the future. This may sound like a pitch for Bitcoin, but a little more than a century ago it was the hype surrounding a new vehicle navigating the traffic-clogged streets of London: the electrobus.

In A Most Deliberate Swindle: How Edwardian Fraudsters Pulled the Plug on the Electric Bus and Left Our Cities Gasping for Breath (RedDoor Publishing), journalist-turned-author Mick Hamer resurrects a forgotten corporate fraud that helped to deliver a deathblow to the development of electric vehicles, leaving city dwellers to choke on the fumes of diesel-powered buses and trucks for generations. “The electrobus swindle didn’t just impoverish the shareholders of Edwardian Britain,” Hamer writes. “We were all robbed.”

Hamer, who has covered the transportation industry for decades, unraveled a web of scams and chased down an array of bad guys to nail this story of greed and deceit. His journalist’s eye for characters and telling detail ensures the narrative never lags.

From ‘The con is on’, Dean Jobb, elleryqueenmysterymagazine.com, June 2018

The descriptive narrative in this book is a delight to read, overwhelmingly unbelievable, but it was in fact all perfectly true. So many swindling fraudsters keep creeping out of the woodwork that it beggars belief as the book progresses…strewth, what a story to find out about.

Reg Seward, https://nudge-book.com/blog/2018/05/a-most-deliberate-swindle-by-mick-hamer/.

At a time when the world is swinging over disruptively to all forms of electric transport, Hamer’s brilliantly investigated book about the Victorian/Edwardian scheisters who tried to con the British Public over a potentially remarkable form of transport is well worth reading!

Kevin Desmond, technology historian and biographer and author of a number of books including Electric Boats and Ships: A History. Posted on amazon.co.uk.