Tait and the Tram Car, 1903

A forgotten story, retold here which reinforced the dangers of the arrival of Blantyre tramcars in 1903 and changes to pedestrian and vehicular safety.

On the morning of 12th November 1903, Mr William Tait, a draper’s traveller was involved in an accident at Springwell, with a passing tramcar. He had been coming from his stable out into Glasgow Road when a passing tramcar smashed into his trap, breaking it into “atoms” and injuring his horse. Mr Tait was suing the Tramcar company for £40 in damages, a case he won and was awarded £25.

Looking into this in more detail, the case was heard on 30th July 1904 in Hamilton Sheriff Court. The court heard how just after 9am, Mr Tait had left his stable at the back of Burnview Place, (4 Glasgow Road) and took his horse and trap through a close 6 foot, 6 inches wide, which led across the footpath to the Public road leading from Blantyre to Burnbank. The houses which contained the close on the north side of the Glasgow Road were only 13 feet away from the nearest tram lanes.

At the location, the tramlines had a loop, at a bend in the road, which allowed cars to pass in either direction. It was also a steep part of the road, with a gradient of 1 in 30. Mr Tait had pulled out on to the road, with little time to see the tramcar coming up the hill towards him. A double telegraph pole near the exit of the close made it difficult to see the tramcar, something the court upheld, stating that the car driver though , would have been able to see the horse and trap.

The tramcar was going at its maximum speed of 8 miles per hour up that particular incline and failed to slow down, crashing into the back of the cart with full force, breaking apart the trap, throwing Mr Tait to the ground and forcing the broken trap remains on to his bewildered horse.

This was one of the first tram accidents in Blantyre to destroy another’s property. The exact scene of this incident is shown in this modern photo of Springwell.

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