The Runaway Tram

Miss Haskins’ Tale. 

Double decker tram
The tram was an open-topped double decker

In 1916, with many working men called up to go to the Western Front, women were drafted into some of the jobs traditionally done by men, including conductor on buses and trams. The women conductors became known as ‘clippies’. 

On the evening of 3rd January, the clippie at the back of a double-decker tram waiting at the Warwick Arms before setting off to Leamington was Miss Haskins. She thought she heard the driver ring the bell to tell her to release the brake. Either that, or he accidentally trod on the bell button in the floor as he was getting off. Whatever the reason, Miss Haskins released the brake and the tram began to roll down the High Street without a driver. By the time the tram was passing the Court House it was travelling at some speed with Miss Haskins unable to stop it. 

In the Castle Arms pub which stood at the top of Smith Street next to the Eastgate, Nora Phipps was serving behind the bar while some locals were enjoying a quiet pint or two. They were about to get a nasty surprise.

When the runaway tram reached the bend round the Eastgate, it jumped the rails and smashed into the Castle Arms ploughing straight into the bar, overturning the counter and knocking over the landlord’s wife, Mrs. Smith. Nora Phipps was buried under the bar counter. Customers pulled her out of the rubble and she had suffered nothing worse than cuts, bruises and a ruined dress.

The three passengers on the bus suffered only minor injuries, as did the unfortunate conductor Miss Haskins. Did the driver ring the bell? Or did she imagine it?  We just don’t know.