On the 1st June 1906, 111 years ago, the No.11 Tram was travelling down Victoria Road in Swindon.
It was crowded with passengers returning from the second day of the hugely successful Bath and South West Counties Show at Broome Manor Farm. As the tram descended the hill, its brakes failed and the tram overturned, sadly killing five people.
The five deceased were Harry Dyke, a brewer’s agent from Goddard Avenue; E.H. Coad, licensee of the Railway Inn, Newport Street; Rowland J. Thurnford, a farmer from Draycot Cerne; Charles Phippen from Bath and Thomas Neate, also from Bath, who died six weeks after the accident.
The driver of the tram, William Lyons, testified that the tram derailed when it hit the points at the bottom of Victoria Road.
Other witnesses said the tram was travelling at speed. One of the passengers later sued Swindon Corporation for £7,200 for negligence, believing that the driver was not familiar with the new tramcar.
When the case went to court, a model of the Tram was built to use in the enquiry, and this is currently on display at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery until Saturday 3rd June.
The model tramcar was used at the Board of Trade Tram Disaster Enquiry and shows the design of the tramcars used in Swindon at the time, complete with metal staircases and two way seats.
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is located in Bath Road, Old Town, Swindon and is FREE to look around. Opening hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm.