The North Bridge Tram Accident
[1st July 1906]

Shortly after 7:30 pm on Sunday, 1st July 1906, Tram Number 94 went out of control – apparently due to the slippery state of the rails – as it travelled down New Bank and overturned on North Bridge.

The crew were Theodore Chadwick (driver) and William Duffy (conductor). Both Chadwick and Duffy applied the brakes strenuously but failed to slow the vehicle.

The tram jumped the points at the bottom of Haley Hill, and slid for about 15 yards before swinging round on the right-hand wheels and sliding a further 4 or 5 yards.

There were 15 passengers, 8 of whom were travelling outside. The passengers on the open upper deck were thrown into the road.

Two people were killed, and 12 others were injured, 9 of whom so severely injured that they had to be taken to the Halifax Infirmary.

Further casualties were avoided when 30-year-old Constable James Dixon, on point duty at the bottom of New Bank, saw the tram rushing down the hill and shouted to pedestrians to get off the tracks.

One of the victims was identified as 24-year-old Arthur Rushworth. The other was never identified but was believed to be an itinerant Irish labourer who had recently arrived in England to help with the hay harvest. He was described as

with brown-grey eyes, dark hair, brown moustache, and 5 ft 10 ins in stature, with a bandage on his left leg, and a small scar above his right elbow

5 different women came forward to claim compensation for the death of their husband.

A verdict of accidental death on both men was returned at the inquest on July 11.

July 1 had been rainy and the rails were wet, and it was suggested that this alone was the cause of the crash. The tram was examined and repaired, and subsequently tested by being driven twice down Salterhebble Hill at 20 mph, far in excess of the speed it would have descended New Bank. No problem at all could be discovered with its electric brakes. Other tests were carried out but no mechanical defect was found.

The driver, Theodore Chadwick, was found to have applied the brakes incorrectly and was dismissed after the accident, and although an inquest cleared him of all blame, Halifax Corporation refused to reinstate him. This triggered off the Halifax Tram Strike

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:13 / 15th May 2021 / 4695

Page Ref: MMN97

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