Brompton Tram Crash, 8th July 1908

​The photo of the tram up against the dockyard wall was taken on 8th July 1908 and shows the Victoria Bridge to Chatham Cemetery service. It ran away down Middle Street and luckily only caused minor injuries to the driver and conductor. Some superstitious crews later lobbied unsuccessfully to have the terminus redesignated Maidstone Road instead of Chatham Cemetery! The line had been moved to run through Middle Street after the crash in 1902 when a tram ran away down Westcourt Street killing a number of people.

Chatham News 11th July 1908

EXCITING INCIDENT IN MIDDLE STREET, OLD BROMPTON

EXTRAORDINARY ESCAPE FROM INJURIES

An alarming tramcar misadventure occurred down the hill in Middle-Street, Old Brompton, shortly before 8 o’clock on Wednesday morning. A car got out of control, left the rails, and crashed into the Dockyard wall, and the passengers and driver and conductor had extraordinary escapes from injury.

The car was No. 30, C.B., working along the route from Chatham Cemetery to Victoria Bridge, Gillingham, with George Sellers of Coronation-road, Luton, as driver and Arthur Edward Banning of Maida-vale, Luton, as conductor. The car was proceeding in the direction of Chatham with only three inside passengers, one of them being an elderly lady, while the others were men.

Soon after the car started down Middle-street, the driver lost control and it travelled at a great rate. The lady proceeded to the door of the car, apparently with the intention of jumping into the roadway, but she was held back by the conductor. Though he was powerless, the driver gallantly kept to his post.

When the car reached the curve at the bottom of the hill leading in the direction of Chatham, the pace it was travelling was terrific, and the noise was alarming, while there was a lot of shouting by people who happened to be in the vicinity. The car jumped the rails immediately at the curve, judging from the subsequent position, crossed over the double track running along Dock-road, and crashed into the thick and lofty brick wall surrounding the Dockyard.

People were soon running to the spot to render assistance, but it was found that the passengers and the driver and the conductor had had wonderful escapes. The driver stepped off the car after it came to a sudden standstill, and only had a few bruises through being knocked against the door. The passengers, who were greatly alarmed, were absolutely uninjured. The conductor sustained several cuts on the face through the broken glass at the door, and was also bruised about the body. He was taken by the Metropolitan Police to the Dockyard surgery, where his injuries were attended to, and he was able to proceed home.

Notwithstanding that the distance between the curve and the wall was about fifty or sixty feet, the car kept in a perfectly upright position while crossing the Dock-road, and remained in the same position after the collision with the wall. The railings on the front top of the car were all knocked out of shape, and considerable damage was caused to the front of the car and also to the undercarriage. The windows were broken in the doors, but none of the side windows were even cracked. The thick wall was somewhat disturbed, but it was not broken away.

The position of the car interfered with the traffic along the Dockyard route, but was just clear of the traffic along the line from Chatham to Gillingham. Mr. W. Jensen, the manager of the Chatham and District Light Railways Company, was early on the spot after the mishap, and a gang of men from the power station at Luton were engaged all the morning in the work of the removal of the car.

It will be recollected that after the terrible and fatal accident at the hill in Westcourt-street, Middle-street was substituted as a line of route, the incline being considerably less.

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The tram which crashed was the Victoria Bridge to Chatham Cemetery service. It ran away down Middle Street and luckily only caused minor injuries to the driver and conductor. Some superstitious crews later lobbied unsuccessfully to have the terminus re-designated Maidstone Road instead of Chatham Cemetery!

 
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