In the early 1880s, Huddersfield had become the first town to own its own municipal transport system, with a fleet of steam-powered tramcars. By the early 1900s, many of the routes had been converted from steam to electricity and these, in turn, were eventually replaced by electric trolleybuses.
By the early-1960s, the costs of maintaining the infrastructure of overhead wires and the fleet of trolleybuses were becoming too high. At a lengthy Council meeting in October 1962, a decision was taken to phase out the trolleybuses and replace them with motor buses.1 Over the next few years, the trolleybus fleet was gradually withdrawn.
Huddersfield Corporation were acutely aware that this was the end of an era, and the week beginning 7 July 1968 was publicised as the “Last Trolleybus Week”, with souvenir tickets and brochures produced to mark the occasion.
Exactly 47 years ago today, on the afternoon of Saturday 13 July 1968, the final electric trolleybus services ran.
The following is a transcription of the souvenir brochure published to mark the occasion, which rather optimistically predicted the citizens of Huddersfield might soon be riding around on battery powered public transport…
The County Borough of Huddersfield, in 1879, promoted a Parliamentary Bill for power to construct tramways and the Act was passed in 1880, giving the Corporation such powers.
Construction commenced in 1881 and the track was laid on several routes within the County Borough boundary. During last century it was customary in this country for a Corporation to lay the tram track in its area, but lease the working of the lines to a company. In the case of Huddersfield, difficulty was experienced in persuading companies to lease the working of the laid tracks. Because of this, the Corporation decided to apply for powers to operate the tramways system themselves and these powers were granted under the Huddersfield Improvement Act of 1882. On Thursday, 11th January, 1883, the first tramway route operated by the Corporation was opened from Lockwood, through the town centre, to Fartown, using steam locomotives and trailer cars. Thus Huddersfield became the first County Borough in the country to operate its own Tramways.
Towards the end of the century development in the use of electric power as applied to tramways had progressed so much that the Corporation decided to explore the possibility of converting the steam tramways to electric traction.
It is hoped that this brochure will be useful to those interested as a detailed history of electrified transport in Huddersfield by Tramcars and Trolleybuses.
The extension of the Tramways into outer districts raised the question of additional rolling stock, and the Tramways Committee, following a report prepared in September, 1898, by the Manager, dealing with the suggested electrification of the Lindley and Outlane routes, decided not to purchase any more steam engines and cars, but to give consideration to the proposal to convert the whole system to electric traction.
On the 25th February, 1899, the Corporation adopted this proposal, and the application to the Board of Trade to borrow the sum of £47,780 for the electrification of the system being successful, the work was put in hand at once and completed by 1902.
The contractors for equipping the Outlane and Lindley route were Greenwood and Batley of Leeds, and for the Longwood and Crosland Moor routes, R.W. Blackwell and Co., the remainder being constructed by the Corporation’s own staff.
The first electric car was put into service on the Lindley route on the 14th February, 1901, and on the same date electric cars commenced on the Outlane and the Lindley via Edgerton and Holly Bank Road routes.
The first 25 electric tramcars were built by G. F. Milnes & Company of Hadley. They were the open-top type, seating 24 inside on stuffed longitudinal seats trimmed with crimson velvet, and 29 on the upper deck. All were originally mounted on Brill Maximum Traction Bogies, but as it was found that bogie cars were unsuitable for Huddersfield routes they were converted to four-wheelers by 1910; this change over effected a considerable saving in current consumed.
Opening dates of other routes (by electricity) are as follows:-
18th February, 1901
Linthwaite and Slaithwaite (Star Hotel)
18th February, 1901
Longwood and Paddock
25th February, 1901
15th May, 1902
15th May, 1902
Fartown via Bradford Road
19th May, 1902
21st May, 1902
10th June, 1902
17th June, 1902
17th June, 1902
Bradley (steam discontinued 2nd June)
13th July, 1902
The total cost amounted to only £101 more than the total of the accepted tenders, which was £72,458.
The last steam trams in regular service ran to Almond bury and Honley on the 17th June, 1902, but three cars were used on the 21st June, 1902, in connection with traffic to Fartown Sports.
There were now 29½ miles of route (32.63 track miles) open for traffic within the Borough, and an Act of 1900 authorised a further 3½ route miles inside the Borough and 19½ outside.
The foundation stone for a new tram depot and generating station in St. Thomas’s Road, on a site originally intended by the Corporation as a Sanitary Depot, was laid on the 13th February, 1900.
In April, 1901, the Corporation decided to give three months’ trial to the proposal of charging the same fare inside the cars as outside; hitherto, the outside passengers had been allowed to travel at a cheaper rate. Sunday services, as the result of a poll of the ratepayers, were put into operation on the 9th June, 1901, whilst in January, 1902, the pre-printed ticket system was introduced on the electric lines only and later adopted over the entire system.
In 1903 the rolling stock had increased to 70 tramcars by the purchase of 44 new and one second-hand rebuilt from the British Electric Car Co., Ltd.
During 1907 the permanent way was reconstructed from single line to double line on the Lockwood, Moldgreen and Birkby sections, and negotiations were completed with the Linthwaite Urban District Council for the purchase of the Linthwaite tramway track, subject to the Tramways Committee agreeing to relay the track with double lines.
One of the unique features of the Huddersfield tramway service was the carriage of coal in specially designed trucks, the scheme being started in September, 1904, following an agreement made in December, 1902, with Martin, Sons & Co., Ltd., of Wellington Mills, Oakes, to carry all their coal requirements from Hillhouse railway sidings — a distance of three miles from the mills. This method of handling coal, which was carried out for a considerable number of years (being abandoned when the track was removed on the conversion to trolleybus operation) proved very satisfactory. The difference in level between the railway sidings and the street allowed the railway wagons to discharge the coal into chutes from which the coal trucks were easily loaded; the 10 ton capacity of these trucks could be filled in three minutes. The coal was discharged at each side of the truck or from the bottom through hoppers into the boiler houses of the three mills concerned. Approximately ten thousand tons of coal were conveyed annually when this service was in operation.
TRAMWAY EXTENSIONS AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
In 1913, Parliamentary powers were obtained for further extensions of the tramways, including those from the Borough Boundary to West Vale.
The extension was carried out in two stages, Birchencliffe to Elland Town Hall, approximately 1½ miles, which was opened for traffic on the 14th January, 1914, and from Ell and Town Hall to West Vale, another mile, on the 30th May, the same year. The extension to West Vale was the means of linking up with the Halifax Corporation’s transport system.
The Slaithwaite (Star Hotel) to Marsden (Peel Street) extension was inspected by a representative of the Board of Trade on the 1st October, 1914, and was opened for traffic two days later. The distance from Huddersfield town centre to the Marsden terminus at Peel Street is 7·22 miles and the route to Marsden was the longest tram route put into service.
In July, 1914, the Town Council approved the Tramway Committee’s minute, relating to the carriage of dogs in the upper saloon of the trams, provided the dog was carried on the passenger’s knees and payment was made at the full passenger rate.
In 1915, the Corporation introduced Route numbers, when all trams were fitted with opal glass plates on which the route number was shown by metal stencils.
During the 1914-18 war, female labour was engaged on the trams and in the depots for the first time. In all, 211 conductresses and 45 car cleaners were employed. A silver and enamelled brooch was presented to every woman with two or more years’ service. Sixty women were recipients of this souvenir.
In January, 1920, the Corporation successfully promoted a Bill in Parliament empowering them, inter alia, to construct a tramway extension to Brighouse via Rastrick. The Huddersfield Corporation (General Powers) Act of 1920 also authorised Motor Omnibuses on certain specified routes outside the Borough, and also on any other road subject to the consent of the Ministry of Transport and the West Riding County Council, sanction being obtained to operate inside the Borough and taking such reasonable fares and charges for the conveyance of passengers therein as may be approved by the Board of Trade under the Huddersfield Corporation Act of 1913.
The Brighouse tramway extension, three-quarters of a mile of which was laid on sleepers through the fields between Netheroyd Hill Road and Bradley Lane, was opened for traffic on 12th March, 1923. This important extension, which was the last to be constructed by the Corporation, formed a direct connecting link of tramways between Huddersfield and Bradford.
On completion of the Brighouse extension, the route mileage of the tramways was 38½ the track mileage being 62½. The Corporation at this time owned 132 tramcars, and of these, 66, each with a seating capacity of 58, were supplied by G. F. Milnes & Co. and the British Electric Car Company. The remainder of the cars were of the vestibule type — later adopted as standard — seating 62 and 64 passengers, and were built by English Electric Co., Ltd. A large number of the older type cars were converted by the Department’s staff to the standard type. Eight further doubledeck vestibule type tramcars, of up-to-date design, were obtained from the English Electric Co., Ltd. , in 1931. These were the last tramcars purchased and were sold to Sunderland Corporation in 1938.
The fares and stages were on the zone system, being revised on 1st January, 1924, on the basis of 1d. per mile, the stages being arranged numerically at approximately half-a-mile distance. A minimum fare of 1d. entitled the passengers to travel two stages. In the endeavour to compete with increasing motor omnibus traffic operating on the “return fare” system, a 3d. maximum fare was instituted in November, 1927, on the trams between the Town Centre and any tram terminus.
In 1931 it became apparent that the tramway system, track and most of the rolling stock was approaching the end of its useful life, and would within a few years have to be renewed completely, or replaced by some other form of transport. One of the worst sections of track was that from Wakefield Road to Almondbury, approximately 11 miles in length, and the necessity for an early renewal of this route gave an opportunity to experiment with a service of trolleybuses between Byram Street (near the Town Centre) and the tramway terminus at Almondbury. The tram service on the Almondbury route was gradually abandoned during the early part of 1933, and a temporary service of motorbuses was run via Almondbury Old Bank while Somerset Road was closed to traffic during track removal and highway reconstruction.
The trolleybus service commenced over the newly constructed highway in Somerset Road on the 4th December, 1933. Six doubledeck trolleybuses of four different makes were used so that experience could be obtained as to the best type of vehicle.
After initial “teething troubles” the results on this route were encouraging.
Early in 1933 it became obvious that the tram track to Outlane and Lindley, via Trinity Street and Westbourne Road, needed early attention, and it was found that the Ministry of Transport would not authorise the renewal of a double track tram route unless a clear margin of 9′ on either side of the tram track was available for ordinary road traffic. The existing width of part of Trinity Street made this impossible, and the estimated cost of the dual work of widening Trinity Street and relaying the tram track was so very much in excess of the cost of conversion to trolleybuses that it was finally decided trolleybuses should be introduced on the Lindley, Out1ane and Waterloo routes. Accordingly authority was obtained under the Public Works Facilities Scheme and the trolleybus operation on these routes began on the 11th November, 1934.
24 double-deck trolleybuses with Karrier chassis and both Metro-Vick and English Electric electrical equipment were obtained for these services. Following further experience on the Almondbury, Outlane, Lindley and Waterloo trolleybus routes, the Passenger Transport Committee decided that the rest of the Corporation tram routes should be converted to trolleybus operation, and powers were obtained under the Huddersfield Corporation (Trolley Vehicles) Act of 1936 for this purpose.
In order to deal with the building developments and in some cases to find a more suitable turning point, the trolleybus routes were extended for short di stances beyond the old tram termini as follows:—
Church to Newsome, Caldercliffe Road.
Dryclough Road to Crosland Hill Road.
Peel Street to Fall Lane.
Commercial Street to Bone gate Road.
and an additional route was run from Woodhouse Church down Woodhouse Hill joining the existing routes at Fartown Bar. The conversion of these routes began on the 2nd May, 1937, and completed as follows:—
3rd Oct. 1937
6th July 1964
7th Nov. 1937
6th July 1964
l0th April 1938
31st Jan. 1963
Sheepridge ex-Brackenhall —6-3-49
19th June 1938
14th July 1966
Bradley ex-Keldregate —2-4-56
19th June 1938
13th July 1967
1st Jan. 1939
13th July 1967
12th Jan. 1939*
14th July 1966
19th Jan. 1939†
28th May 1939
9th Nov. 1961
30th June 1940
9th July 1955
6th March 1949
14th July 1966
30th June 1940
15th July 1965
2nd May 1937
14th July 1966
4th Dec. 1933
15th July 1965
Outlane, Lindley & Waterloo
11th Nov. 1934
13th July 1968
* temporary † permanently
The tram route to Honley was not converted to trolleybus operation for two reasons:—
The tram terminus at Honley was some little distance from the centre of the township, and the bulk of Hanley traffic was carried by motor omnibuses over the tramway route.
The railway arch at Lockwood viaduct was too low to allow for double-deck trolleybuses, plus the overhead equipment, and the cost of lowering the road beneath that bridge was found to be prohibitive.
Accordingly the trolleybuses on this tram route were terminated at Lockwood Church. The roadway has since been altered allowing normal double-deck vehicles.
In order to relieve congestion along Northgate, Viaduct Street was equipped for trolleybus operation and open for traffic on the 21st January, 1954, and the Bradford Road routes were permanently diverted along that thoroughfare, although the overhead equipment was retained for emergency purposes.
Again to relieve congestion in New Street and John William Street, the powers under the Act of 1936 which authorised a trolleybus diversion from Manchester Road, via Outcote Bank, Manchester Street and Market Street, were exercised in 1947. The incoming vehicles from the Marsden, Crosland Hill and Longwood routes were diverted on the 9th November, 1947.
On the 17th July, 1940, a provisional order (under powers, conveyed in the original Act of 1936) was obtained authorising an extension from Woodhouse Church to Riddings Road and an extension from Ash Brow Road along Bradley Boulevard, these extensions being opened on the 6th March, 1949.
Powers authorising further extensions of the following routes were obtained but not exercised:—
From Blackmoorfoot Road.
Into new estate at Keldregate.
Black Horse, Dalton
From Moldgreen via Long Lane.
The depot at Longroyd Bridge, which was formerly used as a tramway generating station taken over by the Electrical Department in 1917, was entirely reconstructed in 1937, and was capable of housing all the 116 trolleybuses owned by the Corporation. An administrative block was built over the Colne River.
On the 9th July, 1955, the Brighouse Trolley Bus Service was discontinued and operated to Fixby (Borough Boundary) only. The West Vale Trolley Bus Service was discontinued on the 8th November, 1961, and the Marsden service was discontinued upon delivery of buses in 1962.
Children of three and under 15 years travel at half the adult fare.
No workmen’s return fares issued.
Free travel on production of passes is granted to blind persons, legless and severely disabled ex-servicemen and to old people of 70 years and over (during certain hours and with resident qualification in the Borough), whilst those between 65 and 70 may travel half-fare under specified conditions.
The conveyance of parcels on vehicles was discontinued on the 30th November, 1953.
The total route mileage operated was 35.968.
It is felt that the foregoing concise history of the development of the electrified operation of tramways and trolleybuses by the Huddersfield Corporation will have been of interest to those who, during the last 67 years, have taken advantage of this form of public transport. It can be said that this marks the end of an era, so far as electrified transport as it is known today is concerned. The tramcar, which in its day fulfilled an extremely useful purpose within the limits of its track. The trolleybus, a silent smooth-running vehicle, but also with limitations according to the overhead system.
It is significant that the end of electrified transport, as described in this brochure, coincides with the Centenary Celebrations of the incorporation of the County Borough of Huddersfield. Another 15 years of operation will have to pass before the Corporation’s public transport system can achieve such a distinction.
What will the next decade bring forth? We live in a world of change where mechanical and electrical developments are taking place with amazing rapidity.
Could it be that in the course of time, developments in electric batteries or fuel cells will once more bring to our towns and cities a form of public transport which is as silent and smooth as the trolleybus but without the limitations of circumscribed distance and mobility.
The following list is compiled from the various newspaper reports of the accident and provides details of the passengers and crew of the tramcar, as well as those who involved with aiding the injured at the crash site and those who took part in the subsequent inquest.
The Tramcar Crew
Thomas Roscoe (Engine Driver)
As Roscoe was suspected of being involved with causing the crash, he did not give evidence at the inquest. If the inquest jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Roscoe, then any evidence he had provided at the inquest could be used against him at the subsequent trial.
He was born Thomas Ruscoe1 around 1844 in Doncaster, possibly in Thorne or Kirk Bramwith. He was an illegitimate child2 possibly born to Hannah Ruscoe.3
He was almost certainly the Thomas Ruscoe (aged 18) who was tried at York Assizes in December 1862 and found guilty of committing an act of bestiality at Womersley, near Doncaster. He was given a sentence of ten year’s penal servitude.
He married widow Ruth Ann Knight (born in Halifax) at St John, Huddersfield, on 14 June 1879, where his name was written as “Thomas Ruscoe”. His occupation was given as “labourer” but by the time of the 1881 Census he was a “traction engine driver”, living on Folly Road in Fartown, so did have some experience prior to becoming a tramcar engine driver.
Intriguingly, the Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) reported that “the driver is said to have had twenty years’ experience upon locomotives of different makes”. This is patently untrue but it raises the possibility that Roscoe lied about his past when applying for the job.
He appears as “engine driver (locomotive)” living at 19 Folly, Netheroyd Hill, Fartown, in the 1891 Census. By 1901, he was living in Mirfield and working as a 56-year-old “stationary engine man”, meaning he operated a static steam engine, the like of which might be found in a factory or used to operate the life machinery in a coal mine.
He likely died shortly after the 1901 Census was taken, aged 56, and was buried in Mirfield on 4 October 1901. His widow continued to live in Mirfield and died in 1918, aged 69.
Henry Sawyer (Conductor)
Henry Sawyer was born around 1850 in Wakefield. He married Emma Wright in 1872 and they raised a family of at least nine children.
During the 1870s, he worked as a cab driver in Huddersfield.
On Saturday 15 November 1873, Sawyer had been driving a horse-pulled cab which ran over 70-year-old widow Hannah Cartwright. Mrs. Cartwright had been attempting to cross a busy junction on West Parade when, according to witnesses, she stepped out of the way of a butcher’s cart and into the horse pulling Sawyer’s cab. She was knocked to the floor and the front wheel of the cab passed over her body before Sawyer was able to stop the cab. Dr. William Robinson attended her and reported multiple injuries at the inquest, none of which individually were serious enough to kill her. However, he believed a combination of the injuries and the patient’s age led to her dying on the Thursday after the accident. The Jury recorded a verdict of “accidental death” and that no blame could be attributed to Sawyer, as he had been driving at a slow pace.
By the time of the 1881 Census, he was living at 18 Towning Row in Huddersfield.
He became a tramcar conductor in June 1883, around the time of the opening of the Lindley route. He gave evidence at the inquest into the tramcar accident which inferred he’d received little formal training for the role, but the inquest jury attached no blame to his actions on the day of the accident.
Following the inquest, Sawyer continued to work for a while as a conductor on the Lindley route before taking a job as a “railway teamer” (1891 Census), which likely meant he drove a heavy cart pulled by more than one horse, presumably delivering large items which arrived at the railway station.
In June 1896, he was described in a court case as being a “teamer [of] Market Place”. Saywer had been drinking and had lost control of his horse and cart, after the horse had been spooked by a passing tramcar and (according to Sawyer) he had been thrown from his seat — the tramcar driver suspected Sawyer had simply fallen off drunk. Sawyer was fined 5 shillings plus costs.4
He was again in front of the magistrates in September 1896 for failing to ensure one of his children regularly attended school.5
On the evening of Thursday 1 September 1898, Sawyer was making his way home when he suddenly collapsed in the street and died. The Yorkshire Evening Post described him as being “a driver in the employ of the Queen Hotel Carriage Company”.6
For reference, this list is of the people known to have travelled on the ill-fated tramcar and further details are provided in subsequent sections below.
It was initially claimed that the conductor had said there were 42 people on the tramcar, although he later revised that figure downwards. However, a total of at least 47 people can be identified from the various newspaper reports, although a few alighted before the tramcar lost control and a couple are somewhat dubious.
If known, their exact or approximate age is given in parentheses. Those who died are marked † and those whose presence on the tramcar may be doubted are shown in italics. The 11 passengers who are known to have been on the upper-deck are marked ▲ whilst the 13 on the lower-deck are marked ▼
Mrs. Atkinson (?)
Jane Hannah Barlow (25)
Sarah Bates (40)
Emma Beaumont (30), travelling with her son George and her niece, Alice Brook
George Beaumont (8 weeks), son of Emma Beaumont
Alice Brook (17), travelling with her aunt Emma Beaumont and cousin George
Benjamin Brook (?) ▲
Sarah Clegg (42) ▲†
Thomas Clegg (50)
Alfred Crosland (41) ▼
Polly Crowe — very likely Mary Jane Crow (13)
William Henry Dean (31?) ▲
Helena Drayton (30) ▼
Master Drayton (?), unnamed son of Helena Drayton and either John Drayton (6), Ernest Drayton (5) or Percy Drayton (3) ▼
Edwin Dyson (41?) ▼
Mrs. Emmanuel Dyson — probably Ellen Kitchingham (30)
Mr. Joe Dyson (25?)
Mrs. Joe Dyson — probably Eliza Dyson (22)
Dr. William Robert Erson (36) ▼
Elizabeth Firth (41), wife of Wright Firth ▼
Wright Firth (42), husband of Elizabeth Firth ▼
Rowland Hall (60) ▲†
Joseph Halstead (21)
Annie Hanson (12), sister of Harriet
Harriet Hanson (14), sister of Annie
Mrs. Hepworth (?)
Mrs. Dick Hepworth — most likely Betsy Hannah Hepworth (28)
Mrs. Lister Kaye — possibly Hannah Kaye (41)
Emily Liversidge (26) ▼
? Liversidge (9 weeks), unnamed baby of Emily Liversidge ▼
Richard Marsden (50?)
Margaret Miller (?) ▼
Annie Moore (5 months), daughter of Fred and Mary Ann ▲†
Fred Moore (28) ▲†
Mary Ann (“Polly”) Moore (25) ▲
Jane Peckett (44) ▼
Helena Adelaide Peckett (6), daughter of Jane Peckett ▼
James Roberts (34)
John Shaw (46?)
Mary Shaw (52) ▲†
Mrs. Thomas Shaw (53 or 54)
Amos Sykes (17)
William Herbert Sykes (21?) ▲
David Bertenshaw Taylor (45) †
Joseph Wilson (?) ▼
Joseph Wimpenny (36) ▲
Isabella Woodhouse (66) ▲†
Witness testimony from George North implies that Mr. Joe Dyson was also aboard but alighted with another gentleman (possibly Ben Brook) somewhere around the junction of South Street and West Parade. As other witnesses give the name “Mr. Dyson”, it is uncertain if they’re referring to Joe Dyson or Edwin Dyson.
The Passengers: Fatalities
Within a few hours of the accident, five people were dead:
Initially described as being around 30 and from Lindley.
Sarah was actually born around 1841 in Horbury and was aged 42 when she died. She was marred to “horehound beer manufacturer”7 Benjamin Clegg and the 1881 Census list them living at 21 Birchencliffe, Lindley cum Quarmby, with 3 young children: Jane (aged 11), Norman (3) and a baby named John. By 1883, the family was living on Lidgett Lane, Lindley.
At the inquest, Benjamin stated that he’d visited his wife twice in the Infirmary, but that she died after his second visit at 5:30pm on the day of accident. He also stated that his wife was accompanied by Mrs. Bates (listed below) but when they boarded the tramcar, Sarah said that she wanted to sit on the upper-deck and Mrs. Bates decided to remain below — a decision which likely saved her life.
Sarah Clegg was buried on 6 July at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Lindley.8
Following the death of his wife, Benjamin received some compensation, but grew bitter that it was so small. He appears to have blamed a magistrate named Walker for this, and in August 1886 was apprehended drunk whilst near Walker’s house, after having throw stones through the window. During his arrest, he apparently claimed he’d like to shoot Walker dead. Benjamin died in 1913, aged 70.
Named as a rug manufacturer from Outlane, aged 45, he was unconscious with a serious head injury when admitted to the Infirmary and soon died.
David Bertenshaw Taylor was born around 1838 and he married Ellen Worthington (born Luddenden) in Halifax in 1865. At the time of the 1881 Census they were living at Lower Hirst, Longwood, with their 5 children: Lily E. (aged 14), Thomas (11), Albert Edward (9), David Bernard (7) and Charles Henry (6).
It seems likely Ellen was the woman described by the Huddersfield Chronicle as arriving at the Infirmary only to be told her husband had just died. She immediately collapsed in shock and had to be helped home.
At the inquest, she stated that her husband had left the family home at around 2pm to go to Huddersfield Market. As she had not seen her husband’s body, due to her collapse at the Infirmary, she formally identified it during the first day of the inquest.
His probate record notes that he left an estate worth £37 10s. to his widow. Ellen appears to have moved to Oldham where she worked as a grocer on the High Street.
Fred Moore and infant daughter Annie Moore
Fred was named as a 28-year-old cotton spinner of East Street, Lindley, and Annie was his five-month-old daughter.
Fred Moore was born around 1855 in Lindley and he married local woman Mary Ann10, who was badly injured in the accident. At the time of the 1881 Census, they were living at 38 Brian Street, Lindley cum Quarmby, with a 1-year-old son, George.
At the time of the accident, the family was living on East Street in Lindley and Fred was working as a “factory operative”.
At the inquest, his father Ben identified the two bodies as Mary Ann was still recovering in the Infirmary.
It seems very likely he was buried on 4 July, although the church record makes no mention of daughter Annie being buried with him. His probate record records an estate worth £25.
Named as a 65-year-old of Temple Street, Lindley.
Isabella (née Wood) was the wife of cloth worker Abraham Woodhouse and they had married in 1842. At the time of the 1881 Census they were living at 14 Temple Street, Lindley cum Quarmby, with three of their children: William (aged 32), Betsy (30), Annie (24).
At the inquest, Isabella’s daughter Annie identified the body and stated that her mother had been accompanied by Mrs. Atkinson, who was injured in the accident.
Isabella was 66 years old at the time of the accident. Abraham died a year after his wife in 1884, aged 69.
By the following day, two more of the passengers died of their injuries:
A manufacturer from Lindley who was sitting on the top deck. He was reported to be in a very serious condition with a large scalp wound and was unconscious when admitted to the Infirmary, having been thrown off the upper-deck of the tramcar onto an iron lamppost. Initial newspaper reports stated that he was not expected to live long.
Charles Richard Green, of Reinwood Road, Lindley, attended the inquest to formally identify Hall’s body. He had been at the Infirmary and visited Hall four times before he died.
Rowland Hall was born in 1823, the son of Joseph and Mary Hall, and was baptised on 30 March at the Salendine Nook Meeting House in Lindley. He possibly married his wife Ann on 27 July 1845 at Manchester Cathedral (if so, her maiden name was Williamson).
The 1881 Census lists the family as living at “Portlands” on New Hey Road, with Rowland’s occupation given as “mill owner”. Four children were listed: Mary H. (aged 28), Clara Ann (21), Frances E. (15) and Albert Edward (9).
His probate record lists his estate as being worth just over £181 15s.
Resident of Thornhill Street, Lindley, she was admitted with a head wound and lacerated face. Although not reported as being seriously injured, she later died.
She was likely born Mary Hannah Greaves in Lindley around 1830 and she married widower shoe maker Jonathan Shaw of Lindley in late 1871. Jonathan had three sons from a previous marriage.
At the inquest, her sister, Sarah Ann Pearson, stated that she’d been with Mary when she passed away at the Infirmary at around 3:50pm on 4 July and that Mary had not spoken since being admitted.
The Passengers: Injured
The following were involved in the accident and their reported injuries are given:11
Not listed by the Chronicle amongst the injured, but was named as being involved in the accident on the first day of the inquest by Annie Woodhouse. Mrs. Atkinson had accompanied Isabella Woodhouse, who was killed.
No other details are known about her, although we could perhaps assume she was of a similar age to 66-year-old Isabella.
Jane Hannah Barlow
Born around 1858 and a resident of Birkby, she worked as a cotton doffer. Her injuries were not stated.
She likely did not marry and died in 1909, aged 51. She was buried 31 July 1909 at St Thomas in Bradley.
Sarah Bates (née Gledhill)
A resident of Lindley and named as the wife of Solomon Bates. Her injuries were not stated.
At the inquest, it was heard that she was accompanying Sarah Clegg, but decided to remain on the lower-deck rather than sit on the upper-deck with her companion. Sarah Clegg died of her injuries at the Infirmary.
Born Sarah Gledhill in Birchencliffe around 1844, she married John Edwin Hirst in April 1861 but he later died. As a widow, she married widower stonemason Solomon Bates on 3 August 1878 at the parish church in Birchencliffe. She had children from both of her marriages.
She later married publican William Crook sometime around 1906 and died in 1921, aged 77.
Emma Beaumont (née Schofield) and baby son George Beaumont
Named as residents of Holly Bank Road, Lindley, Emma had head injuries. Her eight-week-old son, George, also suffered a head injury.
Emma Schofield was born around 1853, the daughter of John Schofield, and she married weaver John Beaumont on Christmas Eve 1875 at St. Stephen in Lindley. At the time of the 1881 Census, they were living at 17 Holly Bank Road with three children: Edwin (aged 4), Arthur (2) and newly-born daughter Ida. By 1891, they had had three further children.
Emma was the aunt of Alice Brook, listed below, and it is highly likely they were travelling together on the tramcar.
Her son, George, died before his first birthday and was buried at St. Stephen, Lindley, on 8 March 1884. Without knowing further details, it is possible that he never fully recovered from his head injury and died an early death 8 months after the accident.
Emma died a widow in 1921, aged 69. She was buried at All Hallows, Almondbury, on 4 March 1921.
A resident of Lindley, admitted with large wounds on the temple and a fractured right thigh. She was one of three patients that were reported on the first day of the inquest to be the most danger of dying, along with Joseph Halstead and Mary Ann Moore.
She was 17-year-old Alice Brook, daughter of “mill time keeper” Charles Brook of Dearne Fold, Lindley.
The 1881 Census lists Susannah Schofield (aged 31) as a boarder with the family and she was the sister of Emma Beaumont (née Schofield). Their sister Edith (also known as “Ada”) married Charles Brook in September 1863. Their father, John Schofield, died in April 1873. When Emma married in December 1875, Charles is named as her father (he was in fact her brother-in-law!), so presumably it was Charles who gave Emma away.
Therefore, given the family links, we can assume that Alice was travelling with her Aunt Emma (Beaumont) on the tramcar.
Alice married stonemason Albert Rowley in June 1889 at the parish church in Lindley and they then lived with her father, Charles until at least 1901. She likely died in 1942, aged 77.
In giving evidence to the inquest, George North, a butcher of Lindley, testified that he saw several people that he recognised on the upper-deck of the car, including “Ben Brook”. This was corroborated by the testimony of William Herbert Sykes.
It hasn’t been possibly to positively identify who “Ben Brook” was but he appears not to have been a relative of Alice Brook.
Not initially listed amongst the injured, he was included in a list published by the Huddersfield Chronicle on Saturday 7 July. Described as being from Birchencliffe, he was sat next to Rowland Hall. As the car tumbled, he grabbed a tight hold of the handrail which, he believed, saved him from being throw through a shop window. Despite suffering injuries, including back pain, he walked away from the accident and caught a cab home.
He was most likely farmer Thomas Clegg, born around 1833 and residing on Burn Road, Birchencliffe, at the time of the 1891 Census with his wife Ann and five children.
Named as daughter of dyer John Crowe of Lindley. She escaped with cuts and bruises and was able go straight home in a cab.
There are no genealogical records for “Polly Crowe”, so we must assume “Polly” was her nickname and she was in fact Mary Jane Crow, daughter of Lindley wood dyer John Richard Crow and his wife Eliza (née Senior),12 who was born 28 March 1870 and baptised at All Saints, Paddock, on 16 February 1876.
I could find no further information about what happened to Mary Jane after the tramcar accident.
William Henry Dean
Resident of Lindley. Reportedly suffered internal injuries but was able to return home to recover, where he later complained of back pains. He was attended to by Dr. Porritt.
This was wholesale chemist William Henry Dean of Holly Bank Road, Lindley. He was born around 1843 in Lindley and married Ann ?. They had a least four children, some of whom worked with him as chemist assistants.
In a statement printed in the Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1883), Dean said that he’d been on the upper-deck and had complained to the conductor about the overcrowding on the tramcar and the speed at which they’d been travelling — apparently the conductor swore and told him to “mind his own business”.
Helena Drayton and unnamed son
Named as Mrs. Drayton, resident at the Bay Horse Inn in Lindley. She received cuts on her hands and a bruise on her right shoulder during the accident.
In one newspaper report, it was stated that she had a young son with her, but his name was not given. The 1881 Census lists three sons and their ages at the time of the accident were: John (6), Ernest (5) and Percy (3).
Also known as “Lena”, Helena Rigby was born 29 March 1853 in Huddersfield, the daughter of John and Mary Rigby. She married inn keeper William Drayton at the parish church in Huddersfield on 9 August 1875, and they raised a family of six children.
The couple initially lived at the Bay Horse Inn in Lindley. As some point after the tramcar accident, but before the 1891 Census, they had moved the Boot & Shoe Inn on New Street in central Huddersfield. In later life, they lived on Greenhead Road and Helena died there in December 1918, aged 65.
Mrs. Emmanuel Dyson
Was allowed to return to her home in Lindley Moor.
This was most likely Ellen Kitchingham who was born around 1855, the daughter of cloth miller John Kitchingman and his wife Elizabeth. She was living on Wellington Street, Lindley, around the time of the accident. She married cloth finisher Emmanuel Dyson in December 1883 at the High Street Chapel in Huddersfield, so it was a little premature of the newspapers to name her as being “Mrs. Dyson” at the time of the accident! She probably died in 1924, aged 70.
Mr. and Mrs. Joe Dyson
Mrs. Joe Dyson also allowed to return to her home in Lindley Moor.
The was probably Eliza Dyson, wife of trainee stonemason Joseph Dyson, who were living at 51 Baker Street, Lindley cum Quarmby, at the time of the 1881 Census.
Witness George North, who gave testimony at the inquest, said he thought he saw Joe Dyson alighting the tramcar near to South Street. If so, then it seems Eliza’s husband accompanied her but got off as the tramcar entered West Parade. If this is the case, then it implies he had no concerns at that time over the speed of the tramcar and may not have even have been aware that it crashed shortly afterwards.
Mrs. Wright Firth was named by Dr. Erson as a passenger on the lower deck. Born Elizabeth Coupland around 1842 in Stainland, she had married widower Wright Firth in 1879. Her husband was named as one of those who jumped off the tramcar before the crash.
A resident of Lindley. Injuries were not stated. Alfred Crosland testified that Firth had jumped off the tramcar just before Dr. Erson did. Given that Firth’s wife was also a passenger, his actions seem rather unheroic!
He was born around 1841 and worked as a power loom tuner in Lindley. After his first wife, Jane Bottom, died in 1877, he married Elizabeth Coupland in 1879. He had at least seven children from both marriages and died in 1911, aged 70.
A stonemason from Birchencliffe. Suffered a fractured forearm and a suspected fracture of the skull and was reported to be “very ill”, but was conscious at the Infirmary. He was one of three patients that were reported on the first day of the inquest to be the most danger of dying, along with Alice Brook and Mary Ann Moore. The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) went even further and reported his case as being “hopeless”.
He was born around 1862 in Birchencliffe, the son of Mary A. Halstead, who was a widow at the time of the 1881 Census. At that time, they were living at 1 Rock Road, Lindley. It seems likely he died aged 28 and was buried at St. Stephen, Lindley, on 3 January 1890.
Annie Hanson and Harriet Hanson
Sisters aged 12 and 14 respectively, and named as the daughters of Mrs. Hanson of Holly Bank Road, were found unconscious on the pavement in front of Mr. Sterry’s shop but were later allowed home.
The sisters appear in the 1891 Census as visitors at the home of widow Emma Kenworthy (aged 42) of 13 Eleanor Street, Fartown, Huddersfield. Both are listed as “living on their own means”, meaning they were able to live without working.
Suffered facial injuries but was allowed to return to her home in Lindley. Due to the commonality of the surname, no further details could be found.
The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) reported that she was carrying a baby who escaped injury, but this may have been a mix-up with Emily Liversidge by the newspaper.
She was listed by the Chronicle as well as the other Mrs. Hepworth, detailed next, but had different injuries. However, there is the possibility that the newspaper made an error and there was only one Mrs. Hepworth on the tramcar.
Mrs. Dick Hepworth
Named as the wife of Dick Hepworth of Lindley. Admitted with a wound on the right side of her head, and slight cuts to her hands.
She was likely Betsy Hannah Hepworth, born around 1855 and the wife of stonemason Richard Hepworth. The 1881 Census gives them living at 49 East Street, Lindley, with a daughter named Edith Annie. After the tramcar accident, they had one more daughter, Marion Eveline. Richard later became a sexton and died in 1906. Betsy Hannah died in 1941, aged 86.
Mrs. Lister Kaye
Was allowed to return to her home on Lidget Street, but was still in shock.
She was possibly Hannah Kaye, wife of worsted weaver Lister Kaye, who were living with their five children at 170 New Hey Road, Lindley, at the time of the 1881 Census.
Emily Liversidge and unknown child
Wife of Milnsbridge plumber Thompson Liversedge, admitted suffering primarily from shock. She was holding a nine-week-old baby in her arms who “miraculously escaped without a scratch”.
The Leeds Times reported that the baby had been “buried under the mass of passengers inside the car, but was afterwards drawn through the window of the car unhurt.”
Emily Gratton was born around 1867 in Sheffield, the daughter of Henry and Allathea Gratton. She married Thompson (possibly Thomson) Liversidge in 1882.
The identity of the baby she was holding is uncertain, as the 1891 Census only lists two daughters who were both born after the tramcar accident, which implies the baby died between 1883 and 1891. Emily herself died aged 31 and was buried at All Hallows, Almondbury, on 25 March 1897.
Named as a resident of Glen View, Edgerton, she boarded the tramcar at Marsh and alighted before the Greenhead Road turnoff on Trinity Street, as she “wished to call upon [surgeon] Mr. Irving.”
She appeared at the inquest and stated that there was no apparent alarm amongst the passengers during the time she was on the tramcar.
A stone merchant from Elland Edge, described as being “dreadfully lacerated about the face”. Drifting in and out of consciousness, his injuries were regarded as being serious.
He was most probably farmer and quarry owner Richard Marsden who was born around 1833, and is listed in the 1881 Census as residing at Upper Edge, Elland, with his wife Sarah and four children.
Mary Ann (“Polly”) Moore
Wife of Fred and mother of Annie, both of whom died, she was admitted with severe head injuries. She was one of three patients that were reported on the first day of the inquest to be the most danger of dying, along with Joseph Halstead and Alice Brook.
She was confined to the Infirmary throughout the inquest, so would not have attended the funeral of her husband which appears to have taken place the day after the accident.
Born Mary Ann Hirst around 1858, she was the daughter of Lindley twine manufacturer Abraham Hirst and his wife Elizabeth.
Mary Ann died on 18 December 1891, aged 34, and was buried alongside her husband. As in indication of the compensation she received after the accident, her husband had left her an estate worth £25 but she died leaving an estate worth a considerable £1,282 18s.13.
In a bizarre footnote, Mary Ann’s probate was administered by her younger brother, rope-maker David Henry Hirst of Lindley. Hirst also acted as a probate to the estate of farmer Samuel Waterhouse of Lindley, who had made out his will in September 1886 in favour of Hirst. When Waterhouse died in May 1892, leaving his property and land to Hirst, one of Waterhouse’s nephews, Glasgow dentist Aquila Waterhouse, later visited Hirst on 18 July and threatened him with gun, demanding a quarter of the Samuel Waterhouse’s property. Perhaps to scare Hirst, he fired towards Hirst’s legs but missed. The two struggled and Hirst managed to take the revolver whilst Waterhouse ran away.
Three days later, at around 6:30am in the morning, David Henry Hirst apparently committed suicide by cutting his own throat. At the subsequent inquest, it was claimed the pressure of running his own business and the issues around his inheritance from Samuel Waterhouse drove him to the act — however, newspaper reports claimed that the police had sensational evidence which provided another motive for the suicide (although this was seemingly never revealed!). Aquila Waterhouse then wrote threatening letters to Hirst’s mother stating that he would not be cheated out of his birthright, which resulted in him being arrested again (he was previously acquitted over the firing of the gun). Some of Samuel Waterhouse’s property was later put up for auction in August 1892 and again in April 1893.
Jane Peckett and daughter Helena Adelaide Peckett
Named as the wife of Frederick Peckett, a local woollen manufacturer, she sustained a head injury and a broken rib but was allowed to return home with her six-year-old daughter. Both were patients of Dr. Erson.
The Leeds Times (07/Jun/1883) managed to get her name wrong, but reported her as saying “she tried to get [off] but there was a crowd of women in the doorway, so that it was impossible to leave the car, and she then tried to protect her girl”.
Jane Gelder was likely born around 1838 and married Frederick Peckett in 1858. She died at some point between the 1891 and 1901 Censuses.
Daughter Helena Adelaide Peckett was born around 1878. She married Walter Charles Mead in 1908 and died on 24 November 1946 in Huddersfield, aged 69.
A tanner from Quarmby, he received fractures to his ribs and right foot.
He was born around 1849, the son of local farmer George Roberts and his wife Harriet. He married Emma Binns in 1878 and they raised five children. He likely died in 1929, aged 80.
A manufacturer from Beaston Hill, Stainland, and residing in Barkisland, he received severe bruising to the head and was reported as “still very ill”.
In a statement given by Alfred Crosland to the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883), he said that John Shaw’s head was “very badly cut” and that Mr. Harrison had helped him to the Temperance Hotel where he “kindly supplied all that was necessary for his comfort until he could be taken to the Infirmary.”
He was likely the John Shaw born around 1837 who is listed in the 1881 Census as being the son of James and Ann Shaw and working as a “woollen manufacturer”.
Mrs. Thomas Shaw
A grocer’s wife of Luck Lane, Marsh. Escaped with minor bruises and was placed under the car of Dr. Porritt.
There were two Thomas Shaw’s living on Luck Lane in the 1881 Census, both with links to the grocery trade, so the passenger was one of the following:
Ann Shaw (aged 53) of 1 & 2 Luck Lane, wife of a grocer and corn dealer.
Abagail Shaw (aged 54) of 16 Luck Lane, wife of a woollen warehouseman & grocer, who died in 1896, aged 68.
Named as a teenage cotton piecer from Lindley, he was reported to have regained conciousness and was doing well. He was called to give evidence on the final day of the enquiry and reported that he’d travelled on the upper-deck.
He was born around 1866, the son of woollen spinner James Sykes and his wife Frances (née Crow). The 1881 Census lists the family living at 127 Acre Street, Lindley cum Quarmby.
Amos married Betsy Wilkinson in 1885 and they had a total of 11 children, 2 of whom had died by the time of the 1911 Census when the family was living at 25 Lowergate, Longwood. He died 22 June 1934, aged 68. Betsy died in 1943.
Mr C. Sykes
The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) reported on the accident and named a “Mr. C. Sykes of Marsh” as being one of the passengers who jumped out of the car prior to the crash. This is very likely an error on their part and they meant William Herbert Sykes.
Resident of Cowrakes, Lindley. Not seriously injured, despite being (according to William Henry Dean) on the upper-deck of the tramcar.
Joseph Wimpenny as born around 1847 in Holmfirth and worked as a general contractor. He married Mary Hinchliffe on 23 Jul 1870 and they had at least six children. He died in 1908, aged 60.
The Other Passengers
The following were known to have travelled on the ill-fated tramcar and either alighted (or jumped off) prior to the accident or were not listed as those admitted to the Infirmary, so were able to walk away from the accident:
Alfred Crosland gave evidence at the inquest that he stood at the rear of the car and, when it was apparent the engine was running too fast and the conductor was not to be seen, he attempted to apply the brake of the car but to no avail. He was recorded as being the last person to jump off the tramcar before it crashed.
He was almost certainly stonemason Alfred Crosland, born around 1842 in Lindley. He appears to have worked for a while as a miner in his teenage years before marrying Ann Shaw in 1873.
The 1881 Census listed him living with his wife and father-in-law at 36 Quarmby Road, Lindley. By 1901, he was working as a stone dresser and living at 42 Quarmy Road.
He died aged 63 and was buried in Lindley on 14 January 1905 alongside his wife, who had passed away in September 1901.
The only detail given for Dyson is that he was from “Westfield”, which presumably refers to an area of Skelmanthorpe. Therefore, he was very likely the Edwin Dyson who was born around 1842 in Emley and who married either Mary Firth or Ann Bellamy in 1862. At the time of the 1881 Census, they were living on Dale Hill, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield, and he was working as a weaver. They had at least seven children.
By 1901, aged 59, he was specialising in hand weaving mohair. He died in 1907, aged 65.
Dr. William Robert Erson
Born in Ireland around 1847, Dr. Erson was a physician and surgeon based in Lindley. The 1881 Census gives him living unmarried at 36 Albert Street.
He served on the Huddersfield Board of Guardians between 1881 and 1885. He later immigrated to New Zealand aboard the Tainui, which departed London on 12 June 1890, bound for Wellington, New Zealand.
William Herbert Sykes
Named as a farmer of Lindley when he gave evidence at the inquest. Despite being on the upper-deck of the tramcar when it toppled over, he seemingly walked away relatively unscathed.
The Leeds Times (07/Jul/1883) seems of have incorrectly reported him as being “Mr. C. Sykes of Marsh”.
There were at least four people named “William Sykes” linked to the farm or diary trades residing in Lindley at the time of the 1881 Census, but it seems mostly likely this was the William H. Sykes who was a 19-year-old son of farmer William Sykes (born around 1825 in Saddleworth) who owned 12 acres of land. By 1901, he had married a woman named Sarah and was living as a farmer at Cop Riding, Moorside, Stainland, with seven children.
Named in the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883) as a passenger who jumped off the back of the car after Dr. Erson. He stated that the speed was such that he hit the road and tumbled forwards for several yards, ripping his clothes and sustaining bruises.
The First Aiders
The following were named as people who helped in the aftermath of the accident and excludes the passengers already named (such as Dr. Erson) who gave aid. Some of them also appeared as witnesses at the inquest.
Described as a member of the Huddersfield School Board, he gave a vivid description of the accident to the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883). He stated he was stood with woodstapler Mr. Halstead on Railway Street, near the West Gate end, when he saw the tramcar approaching rapidly. He bolted to the right whilst Mr. Halstead ran to his left. His lengthy and detailed description of the injured implies that he gave aid and helped with moving the wounded.
Presumably this was Mr. J.H. Bower who served on the School Board until resigning on 3 May 1884, following a move to London.
According to the Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1883), a Mr. W.H. Middlemost who saw the crash sent a messenger to Mr. Cuthbert, a nearby “chemist and druggist”. Cuthbert immediately grabbed an armful of “lint, bandages and other requisites for the dressing of wounds” and rushed to the site — “This timely supply of surgical appliances was very valuable.”
Ralph Cuthbert was born in Huddersfield in 1846, the son of James Ralph and Mary Cuthbert. By aged 24, he was a chemist. He had opened his dispensary at on West Parade in the late 1860s14 and was still there at the time of 1911 Census, aged 64. He died in 1917, aged 70.
Ralph Cuthbert Ltd continued to be a familiar sight in Huddersfield until at least the end of the 1960s.
Alderman Thomas Denham
Alderman Denham is perhaps best-known for his tireless campaign to make Greenhead Park a public space from 1869 onwards. A plaque in the park commemorates his efforts, which led to it becoming a public park in 1884.
Born around 1819 in Lindley, he worked as a draper and eventually became the Mayor of Huddersfield from 1880 to 1881. He died on 28 October 1892.
Duke was a trained member of the St. John’s Ambulance Society and provided valuable assistance to Dr. Erson in tending the wounded and dressing their wounds.
He was born around 1850 and worked as a shoddy manufacturer. This process involved the recovery and recycling of waste wool into yarn, and the finished product, whilst cheaper than normal yarn, tended to be of a lower quality. Nowadays, the word “shoddy” has come to mean anything of a lower quality in general.
He married Mary Hodges in 1877 and in later life became a local magistrate.
He died in December 1909, aged 59, leaving a considerable estate worth over £33,00015, including Marlborough House. His wife, Mary, had died in 1907.
This was likely Councillor Benjamin Hanson, who was known for hosting an annual “Treat to the Poor”, usually at the Methodist church in Paddock.
He was born around 1819 and worked as a woollen manufacturer. He married Harriet Milnes in 1857 and had at least 8 children. He died in 1894, aged 75.
Named as the “of the Temperance Hotel” by the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883), he apparently helped some of the injured to the hotel, including John Shaw, where they were treated until they could be taken to the Infirmary.
Described in the Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1883) as a sculptor of Occupation Road, Moldgreen, he was near the corner of West Gate and Railway Street and witnessed the crash. He ran to give aid and gave a graphic description of the scene — one woman was partially trapped under the overturned car and another “had her legs partly through the windows at the side.” He went on to say, “The scene was a terrible one, the injured groaning and screaming, and pools of blood lying in the road.”
Mr. W. Raynor
Mr. W. Raynor (of South Street) made a statement reported in the Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1883) that he was walking from the railway station (presumably along St. George’s Street) and got on to West Gate in time to see tramcar approaching. He called out to caution other pedestrians to get out of the way and then ran down to Railway Street in time to see the car topple and Rowland Hall being flung against a lamppost. He was one of the first on the scene and helped pull Fred Moore free “out of the tangled mess” before running to fetch more help.
Named as being retired, he gave testimony at the inquest on 12 July. After helping out, he spoke to both the driver and the conductor, and watched the engine and car being moved down to Northumberland Street.
Rowe was born around 1824, the son of tailor George Rowe. He worked as an iron moulder and married Mary Ann Reed on 22 September 1845 at St John the Baptist, Halifax. At the time of the 1881 Census he was retired and living with his wife at 115 Hebble Terrace, Bradford Road. He died in 1903, aged 80.
John Henry Sterry
A wholesale clothier whose shop was on the corner of West Gate and Railway Street. He saw the tram prior to it taking the corner and then witnessed it topple. He ran out to provide aid and helped bring some of the injured into his shop.
Sterry was born in Gloucester in 1847 and initially worked as an outfitter there before moving to Huddersfield prior to the 1881 Census. He became involved in local politics in the 1890s.
Mr. J.H. Stuttard
Described as a painter and decorator of Ramsden Street, he stood talking to someone outside the Cherry Tree Hotel and witnessed the tramcar speeding down West Gate. He gave aid to Rowland Hall and then fetched water for Hall to drink. Stuttard attempted to hail a cab in order to get Hall to the Infirmary, but the first cab driver “refused to take him and drove away”. He also spoke to a “young man from Lindley” who had been sat next to Hall. After a while, Stuttard began to feel faint and “was compelled to leave the scene”.
John Henry Stuttard was born around 1836 in Huddersfield. He married Lydia Schofield in 1862 and he died 1907, aged 72. He became involved with the Huddersfield Board of Guardians from the 1880s onwards.
This was presumably Alderman Alfred Walker, the former Mayor of Huddersfield (1878-1880). He was born around 1838 and worked as a woollen manufacturer. He died in 1909, aged 71.
Many of the witnesses rushed to provide help and their names are given in the previous section. The following are those who gave statements to the press or at the inquest but weren’t specifically mentioned as providing aid (although they may well have done).
Joseph Theophilus Green
Stationmaster of Huddersfield Railway Station. He gave evidence on Friday 13 July 1883 and was of the belief that the tramcar’s brakes were not applied at the time of the crash.
Born around 1843 in Cheshire, he married Frances Elizabeth Hibbert in 1868 at Huddersfield and they raised a family of 4 children. He died in 1902, aged 60. He was stationmaster at Huddersfield from at least the late 1870s until his death, and was likely the stationmaster at Stocksmoor prior to that.
Reported by the Huddersfield Chronicle (04/Jul/1883) to be a stone merchant of Thurstonland, he was standing on the corner of Westgate and Railway Street and “had a narrow escape of being injured by the falling car”.
Named as a butcher of Lindley, he gave evidence on 12 July 1883. He stated he saw the tramcar go past and that the car’s brakes were applied. He recognised several people on the upper-deck and saw the tramcar slow down near South Street to let two people off, one of whom might have been Eliza Dyson’s husband, Joeseph.
North Sager North was born around 1849 and married Louisa Berry in 1872. They were living at 16 George Street, Lindley, at the time of the 1881 Census with their
The inquest was attended by many people and officials. The following are those primarily involved or who gave evidence and have not been previously listed. Their capacity is given in parentheses.
Councillor Armitage Haigh (Chairman of the Tramways Committee)
Arrived about half an hour after the accident occurred and went to the shed where the engine had been moved to. Together with Laxton and Alderman Henry Hirst, he had questioned the engine driver, Roscoe, about the state of the engine. On the final day of the inquest, he reported that Roscoe had admitted he had closed one of steam valves, and half closed the other, to essentially disable the engine’s automatic braking system.
Mr. W. Barstow (Coroner)
William Barstow was born around 1831 in Halifax, where he appears to have lived most (if not all) of his life. He is listed in the 1881 Census as the “Coroner for the County of York” and was living with his elderly mother, Eliza. He didn’t marry until later in life and died in 1901, aged 70.
Richard Swarbrick Dugdale (Borough Engineer and Surveyor)
Dugdale inherited the plans from the tramway network from his predecessor and oversaw the construction of the network. At the inquest, he admitted lowering the elevation of the outer rail on the corner where the crash occurred from the original specification. His evidence clashed with that of Thomas Laxton, who had claimed he had reported a number of concerns to Dugdale prior to the accident — Dugdale repeatedly told the inquiry that those concerns were none of Laxton’s business.
He was born around 1849 in Blackburn, Lancashire. He later moved to Sculcoates, near Hull, where he died in 1903, aged 54.
Arthur G. Evans (Engineer)
A superintendent of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Alongside Middleton Pratt, he took part in the technical examination of the engine and provided a separate report.
Major General Hutchinson (Inspector for the Board of Trade)
Hutchinson led a separate parallel inquiry which investigated the technical reasons for the crash.
Charles Scrope Hutchinson was born in August 1826 and obtained a commission with the Royal Engineers. From 1867 he was the Inspector of Railways for the Board of Trade. Perhaps not his finest moment, he inspected the Tay Bridge in February 1878 and declared that he “regarded as satisfactory” — it collapsed in high winds in December 1879 as a train was crossing it, killing all on board.
He died in 1929.
Thomas Frederic Laxton (Huddersfield Tramway Superintendent)
Laxton gave damning evidence at the inquest (some of which was flatly denied by others) which painted a picture of rule breaking by drivers and the failure of management (particularly Dugdale) to take steps to prevent the accident.
Be was born around 1858 in Peterborough and in later life moved back there, where he worked as a locomotive engineer. He didn’t marry and died in 1930, aged 71.
Middleton Pratt (Engineer)
Pratt, a mechanical engineer from Fixby, was appointed by the jury to be an independent engineer who examined the engine alongside Arthur Evans. He provided an independent report to Evans.
He was born 15 April 1839 and married Antoinette Faigle in 1888. He was declared bankrupt in April 1891 and later retired to Dorset where he died April in 1925, aged 86.
Dr. James Nowell Richardson (Surgeon)
Richardson was the senior house surgeon at the Huddersfield Infirmary. On the first day of the inquest, he correctly predicted that two more of the passengers would die. He attended the final day of the inquest to report on the causes of death for the seven individuals who died.
Richardson was born 8 July 1857 in Leeds and studied at the Durham University. By the time of the 1911 Census, he was a G.P. living in Ilkley.
William Wilkinson (Engineer)
As owner of William Wilkinson & Co., Wgian, and manufacturer of the engine involved in the crash, his reputation was at risk. Wilkinson’s had been chosen to supply the engines as their new vertical boiler design could provide more steam-power, which was seen as a requirement on the hilly streets around Huddersfield. He was accompanied at the inquest by this solicitor, Mr. Ellis.
This otherwise unassuming stretch of Railway Street will be familiar to anyone who lives in Huddersfield but it was the scene of the town’s worst tramcar accident, just over 130 years ago…
Tramcars in Huddersfield
On Thursday 11 January 1883, Huddersfield became the first local authority in England to own and operate its own tramcar service. According to Discovering Old Huddersfield, the first service left “Fartown Bar for the terminus at Lockwood Bar travelling via Bradford Road, Northumberland Street, John William Street, Buxton Road and Chapel Hill.”
According to one newspaper report, the initial service ran from 9am with services from Fartown leaving on the hour, and setting off back from Lockwood on the half hour. The only accident reported on the very first day of operation was when a horse was spooked by tramcar and backed its cart into a lamppost, knocking it over.1
The tramcar network would eventually expand to reach out to many of the outlying districts, including routes to Crosland Moor, Honley, Longwood, Marsden, and even Brighouse and Elland.
In those early days, the services were nearly all steam-powered tramcars, with a small number of horse-driven trams used in the busy town centre, where it was felt the faster steam ones might be more dangerous to pedestrians.
The steam-powered tramcars comprised a single passenger carriage (referred to as the “car”) pulled along the rails by a small steam engine, as evidenced by this photograph a Berry Brow tramcar.
Very occasionally, a single engine would pull two cars, but this tended not to happen on the hilly streets of Huddersfield.
Some of the early cars were open-topped, which can hardly have been pleasant with the soot and smoke blowing into the passenger’s faces! For this reason, the upper-deck fare was initially 1 old pence, compared to the 2 old pence charged for travelling in the enclosed lower-deck.
At the start of the 1900s, steps were made to begin electrifying some of the routes and, by the 1930s, the rails were pulled up and electric trolleybuses started to replace the tramcars.
During the era of the steam tramcars, there were only two fatal accidents and we’ll look in-depth at the first — and most serious — in a three-part blog post.
However, before we look into the full details of the accident itself, it’s probably worth explaining a little more about how the steam tramcars of that era operated:
The engine could be put into forward or reverse and the driver could control the speed.
The braking system for the engine was steam-powered, with two valves that controlled the amount of steam passing through to the brakes. If these values were partially closed, the braking effect would be lessened, and if the valves were fully closed, the brakes would not operate at all.
As well as using the steam-powered brakes, a driver could slow the tramcar by either throwing the engine into reverse or by getting the conductor to apply the brake at the rear of the car. Although there was, at that time, no apparent consensus on the correct way to bring a tramcar to a halt to allow passengers to board and disembark, reportedly the most common method was a combination of putting the engine into reverse and applying the car brake, which required a degree of coordination between the driver and conductor, usually achieved via the ringing of a bell by the driver.
To limit the risk of an engine running out of control, they were fitted with an automatic braking system, approved by the Board of Trade. Should the speed exceed a set limit (about 9 miles per hour), this system would kick in, applying the steam-powered brakes and throwing the engine into reverse. The purpose of this system wasn’t necessarily to bring the tramcar to an immediate halt, but to slow the speed down to well below the limit. However, as noted above, the effect of the steam-powered brakes could be lessened by the closing of the relevant valves, thus making it possible for a driver to effectively disable the automatic braking system.
The conductor’s brake in the car wouldn’t be enough in itself to stop a tramcar going downhill if the engine was pulling forward — the car’s wheels would just skid along the metal rails — but it would likely help to slow the tramcar down.
Some engines were fitted with a separate independent braking system, which didn’t require steam. Unfortunately the engines initially purchased by the Huddersfield Corporation didn’t have this safety feature.
The Tramcar Tragedy of July 1883
The tramcar route from Lindley descended down an incline towards Huddersfield along Trinity Street, passing by the eastern edge of Greenhead Park, then along West Parade and West Gate (where it merged with the line to Edgerton), before turning sharp-left into Railway Street to enter the terminus loop in St. George’s Square, in front of the railway station.
The section running down West Gate and West Parade can be seen in this 1905 postcard and a photograph from the mid-1930s, from the trolleybus era:
The latter section of the route is shown in green on this 1890 map, with the corner into Railway Street shown in red.
Normally on a tight bend, the track would be laid so that the outer rail was raised much higher than the inner rail, to make the tramcar to lean into the corner. This difference in height was known then as the “superelevation” but these days tends to be called the “cant” of the track. In the case of the bend into Railway Street, the outer track was raised slightly, but not very much as there were concerns that a more elevated outer rail would impede other users of the road. According to the testimony of the Borough Surveyor, the cant of the track was calculated to allow for a loaded tramcar to take this particular corner safely at a speed of 4 miles per hour.
Since the line had opened in June 1883, concerns were raised that the tramcars were “in the habit of travelling at a high rate of speed”. It was reported that “the conductor had been spoken to about the danger attending such recklessness”.
On Tuesday 3 July 1883, the 2:30pm tramcar from Lindley departed around 5 minutes late for Huddersfield. The car was an open-top and it was being pulled by the Huddersfield Corporation’s Engine No.2, built by Wilkinson and Sons of Wigan.
The conductor was Henry Sawyer. Sawyer had previously worked for a local omnibus company, but had only recently begun his current job on the Lindley tramcar route in mid-June. He would later state that he had only received basic verbal training for his new job, and was left to figure out for himself when he should be collecting fares and when he should be manning the tramcar brake on the route. As the inquest would later hear, the formal book of rules and regulations for the Huddersfield tramcar operators was still at a draft stage, awaiting further discussion by the relevant Huddersfield Corporation committee.
The driver of the engine was Thomas Roscoe. According to Sawyer, Roscoe had been in the Fleece Inn, Lindley, prior to the start of the journey, although there was no evidence presented that Roscoe was intoxicated or incapable of operating the engine. However, the tramway superintendent, Thomas Frederick Laxton, had been keeping a close eye on the Roscoe as he was strongly of the opinion that some of the drivers were bypassing the automatic brake system by closing the connecting steam valves and Laxton hoped to catch one of them red-handed.
Before the tramcar set off, Roscoe had very likely nearly closed both values to disable the automatic braking system so that he could drive faster than 9 mph without the automatic braking system slowing him down. Perhaps he was concious that the tramcar was setting off late and wished to make up time, but his decision would ultimately cost the lives of seven people.
Tuesday was Market Day in Huddersfield and a large number of people were making their way to and from the town centre. Within a few stops, the tramcar was so full — it was later reported around 40 people were on the tramcar — that some passengers elected to sit on the steps between the upper and lower-decks, whilst others stood on the rear platform and on the upper-deck. The conductor reportedly shouted to the driver, “don’t stop again”, meaning not to pick up any more people until they reached Huddersfield, which drew a remark of “If we don’t [ever] stop again, I wonder where we’ll get to?!” from one passengers.
At the inquest, Sawyer would state that he’d usual applied the tramcar brake once they started descending Trinity Street, knowing that the remainder route was steeper. At least one witness (Lindley butcher George North) would corroborate this, stating that as the tramcar past him on the stretch of road next to Greenhead Park, he could see the wheels locked and skidding — “I thought that if it had been night there would have been a lot of sparks.” Prior to passing this witness, the tramcar had slowed to let off Margaret Miller, although most witnesses stated it did not come to a full stop.
The driver soon picked up speed again. One of the passengers, Lindley surgeon Dr. W.R. Erson, grew concerned that they were going too fast and voiced his fears to fellow passengers that one day there’d be an accident.
As the tramcar approached the bottom of Trinity Street, at least one passenger rang the bell to request the tram to stop. Witnesses differed on whether or not the tramcar actually slowed down but the passengers who wanted to alight apparently chose to jump off whilst the vehicle was still in motion. What everyone agreed on was that the tramcar certainly didn’t stop.
At the junction of Trinity Street and West Parade, the line curved to the left and, according to some witnesses, one side of the speeding tramcar lifted clear of the rails by several inches on the curve before righting itself again. West Parade and West Gate were the steepest part of the line with a gradient of 1 in 17 and it was now imperative that the driver now slowed the engine, especially given the sharp curve ahead onto Railway Street.
Dr. Erson had been keeping a close eye on the driver and noticed that he’d raised a lever and had apparently expected it to slow the engine — at the inquest, this was described as the means by which the driver could throw the engine into reverse. Unbeknown to Roscoe, a crucial piston had failed at some point in their journey and the lever now effectively did nothing. He frantically rang his bell to alert Sawyer to apply the brakes in the car, but the conductor was apparently unable to get to the brake.
At the inquest, it would be contentious as to what state the car brake was in as the tramcar ran down West Parade into West Gate, with Sawyer telling the press that he was of the opinion a passenger must have tampered with it. However, later tests showed that the car brakes alone would not be sufficient to slow the tramcar down, even if fully applied.
On the lower-deck, people were now standing up in alarm at the speed they were going. Dr. Erson, apparently calmly as so not to panic his fellow passengers, had made his way to the rear of the tramcar, as he was convinced the driver had no control whatsoever over the engine.
By now, most of the passengers had realised that their speed was continuing to increase unabated and some took the opportunity to jump off from the rear of the tramcar, including Dr. Erson.
Alfred Crosland of Oakes had got on when the tramcar was nearly full and had stood at the rear by the car brake for most of the journey — he would state that he saw no-one go near the brake. The sight of passengers jumping off behind him, coupled with the frantic ringing of the bell and the lack of a conductor, prompted him to seize the brake himself and he turned it, expecting to hear and feel the application of the brakes. However, he felt nothing. He later claimed that if he had felt anything, he would have valiantly remained at the brake — instead he took his chances and was named as the last person to jump off the rear of the car.
Of those who did jump off, some managed to stay upright, but most lost their footing and tumbled down the road, sustaining minor cuts, grazes and bruises. Dr. Erson had quickly regained his feet and, after checking that some of the others who’d jumped off weren’t badly injured, he ran down West Gate after the tramcar, perhaps fearing his medical skills would be much needed in a few moments.2
In the lower-deck, Emily Liversidge was cradling her nine-week-old baby and cried out, “My child! My child! How must I save my child?”. Mrs. Drayton, who was sat near to her, told her to “wrap it in your shawl”, which Emily did. Mrs. Drayton then took a tight hold of her own son, who was accompanying her.
On the upper deck, the passengers included Sarah Clegg, Mary Shaw, retired mill-owner Roland Hall, farmer William Herbert Sykes, 60-year-old Isabella Woodhouse and a young couple with their five-month-old daughter.
With the left-hand curve onto Railway Street now in sight, panic was gripping the remaining passengers and eyewitnesses claimed that some of those on the upper-deck were stood up. Other stated that the women (and some of the men) on both decks were screaming.
The engine took the corner onto Railway Street at a speed which was estimated to have been somewhere between 10 to 16 miles per hour3 and stayed on the rails due to its weight and low centre of gravity, but the more top-heavy car behind again tipped over to its right at an alarming angle, with the left-hand wheels well clear of the track.
According to witnesses, the car remained at this angle for a few seconds before finally toppling over and snapping the chain between the engine and car.
With the car on its side, the engine finally stopped abruptly after a few feet, coming to rest next to the Estate Building, some 20 or so yards down Railway Street.
Those on the upper-deck were thrown forwards and sideways onto the pavement — in a neat line, according to one bystander. Rowland Hall, a retired manufacturer and mill owner, was flung bodily into an iron lamppost, sustaining injuries that would prove fatal. Young Annie Moore lay dying or dead on the pavement.
Those on the lower-deck were hurled around inside the car and Emily Liversedge’s baby lay buried until a pile of passengers. As the car had hit the ground, the left-hand side windows shattered above the passengers, showering them with shards of glass.
One witness described the crash site as resembling at miniature battlefield, strewn with casualties. Many of the passengers had suffered head injuries, whilst some were lucky to walk away with bruises and cuts.
Within moments of the crash, numerous bystanders had rushed to give their aid. Some helped move the injured away from the crash site and into the Estate Building. Others went to the fallen car, where they saw one woman on the road with her legs trapped underneath, and another woman’s legs sticking out of one of the broken windows. Fearing that there might be others trapped underneath who needed help, a crowd quickly heaved the car upright.
One of the first to reach the scene was Duke Fox, a highly successful shoddy manufacturer of Dewsbury. As a trained member of the St. John’s Ambulance Society, he proved invaluable in assisting Dr. Erson to provide aid to the injured and dying. Word quickly spread and others with medical training arrived on the scene. Local chemists grabbed armfuls of bandages and rushed to give help. The most seriously injured were soon placed in cabs and conveyed to the Huddersfield Infirmary.
Among the others who helped were Aldermen Walker and Denham, Councillor Hanson, and Mr. Harrison of the Temperance Hotel4, who took some of the less badly injured there to await transport to the Infirmary.
Once the car had been cleared of those inside, the driver Roscoe slowly advanced the engine and smashed car into St. George’s Square. Both were then taken down the Corporation’s tramcar shed where orders were eventually given to the police to guard the engine.
A reporter from the Huddersfield Chronicle was soon at the Infirmary and reported:
The scene was, indeed, one of the saddest possible to conceive. The groans of the injured, the ghastly appearance of many of them, and the sight of so much human suffering was enough to unnerve the stoutest hearts.