Safety with trams

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Now, who can I upset this week. Definitely not Italians. Nor, from recent memory, is it advisable to mention anything about single mothers.

So perhaps it’s best to just play the safe card, and do an inoffensive piece about the Wolverton to Stony Stratford trams. Surely no-one can get steamed up about that.

Initially the steam tramway got off to a few false starts, and having purchased 420 pounds of shares one of the early directors ended up in the Bankruptcy Court at Northampton.

At first the track ran from the Barley Mow at Stony Stratford to Wolverton station, with a junction at Ledsam Street for goods purposes, for which the company had a contract with the London & North Western Railway Company.

At Stony Stratford the construction of a waiting room adjoining the British School began in September 1887, and took about six weeks to complete. The second storey provided an ante room to the public room above the school, and today an information board affixed to the wall of the building tells the story of the tramway, including both the short lived extension to Deanshanger and the types of engines used.

Even though the speed of the trams was limited to a maximum of 8mph several accidents occurred during its years of operation. Not infrequently horses were spooked by the approach of a tram, but more seriously there were a couple of fatalities. In strict contravention of the rules a man jumped off a moving tram but misjudged his footing.

One of his legs got caught in a wheel and he had to have the limb amputated at Northampton hospital.

He died from the shock shortly afterwards. As for another man, he tried to jump on to a moving tram but fell underneath and was instantly killed.

The tramway closed in 1926 when the staff joined the General Strike. All except the long serving conductor ‘Little Billy.’ He remained loyal to the company, and with no trams running became the depot watchman.

As for one of the managing directors he was a grandnephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. In fact there’s a rather interesting tale to tell about him. But far be it from me to upset any more nationalities.