Brompton Tram Crash: 20th October 1915

​From the Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham News, Saturday 23rd October 1915


Exciting Incident in Middle-street

The hill of Middle-street, Old Brompton, leading down to the Dock-road, Chatham, was the scene of a startling incident about nine o’clock Wednesday morning, owing to a tramcar getting out of control and racing down the hill, over the cross rails and against the Dockyard wall. All sorts of exaggerated as to the results of the accident were soon in circulation.

The car was No. 68, and was travelling from Gillingham for Frindsbury, the driver being Walter Sidders, of Upper Luton-road, Chatham. There were about a score of passengers, the majority of whom were on top, and among the inside passengers were three or four young lady assistants on their way to business at Chatham.

It is stated that the car started off at a very quick rate immediately it commenced to descend the hill, and it was at once evident that it was out of control of the driver. Great excitement prevailed among the passengers and the passers-by as the speed of the car increased. The hill is a comparatively short one and the bottom was soon reached. Fortunately there was nothing in the way, and the car dashed completely across the road to the pavement on the opposite side of the road, and struck against the wall. The impact with the wall was probably lessened through the wheels of the car striking the kerb, and the wall was very little damaged. The passengers were thrown down and badly shaken, but apparently none of them was seriously injured. The driver was not so fortunate, and he sustained injuries which necessitated his removal to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. One young lady, a Miss Williams, of Park-place, Gillingham, had a narrow escape. A part of the floor gave way beneath her, and she was thrown on to the machinery of the car, and Miss Cuckow, of Gad’s-hill, Gillingham, was pitched on top of her. “We seemed to be shot up some distance first, and then fell in a heap,” was Miss Cuckow’s description. Miss Cuckow is an assistant of Messrs. Jasper’s, and Miss Williams is employed by the Mid Kent Coal Co. Both young ladies were able to walk to their businesses, but Miss Williams, who was severely shaken and bruised, had to return to her home.

The front of the car was badly damaged, and some of the seats on top were disturbed, while the body of the car was damaged, but the wheels were intact. The car was righted within a couple of hours, and taken to the Depot at Luton.

From other sources we learn that the driver was unable to stop the car on turning the corner, although it was going at a slow rate at first, and pulled up within a few yards of the customary spot. It was then opposite the Grasshopper beer house that the car “took charge.” This is about halfway down the hill. The inside passengers consisted of four ladies and two gentlemen. One of the latter was a wounded soldier. Among the ladies was Miss Gladys Ferret. She was much shaken, and had to be given brandy to revive her, as she was suffering from shock. Although much shaken and frightened, Miss Ferret, with kindly thought, took charge of a bag which someone had dropped in the road, and subsequently caused it to be handed over to the police. The owner of the bag has since expressed her thanks to Miss Ferret for her kind action. The bag was found to contain £5 4s. 5d., and was afterwards claimed by Mrs. Paxley, of High-street, Brompton, who was an inside passenger, and was starting on a journey to London. Three ladies – Miss Hastings, Miss Jarman, and Miss Trice – were taken to the butcher’s shop of Mr. Maynard, where Miss Maynard kindly acted as the Good Samaritan, and gave them brandy and other restoratives. They were all able to return to their homes. A young man named Weekes was also given sustenance. There were many more on top than inside, and it was those that seemed to have suffered most.

We are pleased to learn that Sidders, the driver of the car, is proceeding very favourably. He was only detained at the hospital for twenty minutes.


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