Kingsland 1903 tram tragedy still pertinent
An Auckland tram tragedy that happened 113 years ago is still providing valuable lessons for today’s Motat tram drivers.
Tramway enthusiast and Motat motorman examiner James Duncan said the museum has always made particular note of the Kingsland tram disaster of Christmas Eve 1903.
The accident occurred on New North Road when a brake failed on a double decker tram heading towards Eden Terrace.
It rolled backwards and collided with another tram, killing three and injuring up to 60.
An inquest found the cause of the collision was through a ‘‘ratchet brake’’ failing.
On November 30 the Central Leader published a story on the tragedy and how two Auckland women have been calling for relatives of the disaster to come forward.
They said the tragedy was never properly recognised and are planning a formal commemoration ceremony with the unveiling of a new plaque at site of the crash. Duncan saw the story in the Central Leader and came forward to say that Motat, who operate 23 historical trams, still apply lessons learned from the fateful tragedy.
‘‘We’ve always placed a strong emphasis on our drivers always knowing how to stop if their brake fails,’’ Duncan said.
Drivers in 1903 were not trained to properly control the tram if the primary brake failed, he said. ‘‘The people that trained me were bringing in all that knowledge from the way they trained the tram drivers in Auckland with the Kingsland crash always lingering in the background.’’ In 2013 Duncan put together a detailed account of the accident for two tramway publications.
‘‘I think personally because it had such a big impact on the tramway world in New Zealand and on Auckland, it’s something we really shouldn’t forget.
A commemoration ceremony for the Kingsland tragedy will take place on December 23 and a plaque will be unveiled at the corner of New North Road and New Bond Street. The crash killed Ann Young Hogarth, Benjamin Morrison Lindsay and William Caley.
If you believe you are connected to one of these names contact the Kingsland Business Society on (09) 379 5553 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a full list of those injured visit kingslandnz.com.
Motat tram motorman James Duncan has done extensive research on the Kingsland tragedy.