Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Tram Crash at Luton

Crashed tram at Luton, 27 December 1916 [Z1306/75/18/34]

Wednesday 27th December 1916: A serious tram crash took place in Luton at 11.30am this morning. The accident occurred at the junction of Midland Road and Old Bedford Road, where a steep downward slope ends in a sharp bend. Eye-witnesses say there can be no doubt that the tram car was travelling too fast, but the cause of its undue speed is not known. As the tram approached the bottom of the hill it was clear that an accident was unavoidable. The car failed to take the curve, overran the rails, went up the kerb, hit an electricity standard and crashed through a wooden fence into an earth bank next to the Midland Railway bridge. The tram car was wrecked with the front smashed in, seats torn out of their bracings, and windows splintered like matchwood with debris scattered to the sides and behind the car.

Seven or eight passengers were on board, including Luton’s Acting Chief Constable Walter Hagley. He suffered a dislocated shoulder and minor injuries to his face, but despite being obviously in pain he took charge of the crowd and directed the rescue of the driver and the other passengers. The driver, Alfred Lloyd, was trapped and some of the wreckage had to be removed with a crowbar to release him. Although he was unconscious his rescuers found that his hand was still holding the brake. He is being treated at the Bute Hospital for concussion and internal injuries, along with two of the passengers: Mrs. J.J. Wooding has severe scalp and face wounds, and four year old Charles Gregory of 19 Brache Street suffered leg and arm injuries. When the tram car was moved a large amount of money was found underneath; this belonged to Mrs. Wooding, who was on her way to the bank. The other passengers and the conductor, Arthur Eaton, suffered from cuts and shock and have all been discharged.

Mr. A. E. Wray, the Tramways Manager, says that he has no idea how the accident could have happened. The car had four brakes, two mechanical and two electrical, and had been recently overhauled. The driver has been working for the Company for twelve months and is known to be reliable and careful. Not only was he still gripping the brake, but the emergency electrical brake was switched right over. Until Mr. Lloyd is well enough to answer questions nothing more is likely to be learned about the cause of the crash. The chairman of the Tramways Committee of the Town Council has promised that there will be a thorough investigation. It is fortunate that the tram did not swerved more to the left as if it had struck the bridge wall the damage would have been much worse. It is hoped that the driver and his passengers will all make a full recovery.  

Source: Luton News, 28th December 1916

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