THE APPALLING CRASH AT MOSCAR, SHEFFIELD - 25th AUGUST 1907

"Pedestrians have a right to use the highway without feeling that they are in danger of losing their lives by the pace of these huge machines..."

Unlike a number of articles that appear on this site, I did know about this accident but did not understand its significance. The Sheffield Daily Independent dated Monday 26th August 1907 carried the headline

"APPALLING SMASH NEAR MOSCAR, MOTOR CHAR-A-BANC  DASHED INTO WALL. THREE KILLED, MANY OTHERS INJURED. SICKENING SCENES"

Under the headlines the paper revealed that the char-a-banc was proceeding past a carriage and a pair of horses when it hit a telegraph pole, causing it to skid and then crash into a stone wall. A man with a little boy, aged seven on his knees was killed instantly and another man was killed by being thrown from the vehicle. A person who was passing by on the road tried to run away but was caught by the crashing vehicle and pushed through a stone wall. He suffered a broken right leg and severe head injuries.

There is a graphic postcard which shows the aftermath of the tragedy

  

Moscar car crash - the ill fated car, Sheffield

The Manchester Guardian dated Monday 26th August 1907 gave some additional information

The Inquest was held two days later on Wednesday, 28th August 1907 on the three fatalities - WILLIAM ERNEST HARRISON (5), BEN HANDLEY (30), bricklayer; and HUGH FEARN (37), auctioneers clerk, all of Sheffield.

The first person to address the Inquest was Mr Joseph Gibbons, managing director of Messrs Tomlinson, owners of the charabanc. He expressed deep sympathy with the relatives of the deceased and with the injured people.

There then came the evidence of formal identification and then the Coroner listened to the evidence of Mr. Frank Churchill, a motor car builder who had sold the char-a-banc to Messrs Tomlinson. Mr Churchill said that in his opinion the accident was not attributable to any breakage or dislocation of the char-a-banc. The width of the road where the accident took place was eighteen feet and there was a drop of one foot from the crown of the road to the gutter. Mr Churchill maintained that all four wheels would skid as soon as the wheels reached the gradient at the side of the road of 1 in 3.4. The accident would not have occurred if the telegraph pole had not been in the way.

J. Edward Vickers in his book A Popular History of Sheffield states that there were 29 people on the  char-a-banc who had been on a trip to the Hathersage area of Derbyshire and were making the return journey.

The Pub where the trip set off from -  Boston Street (formerly New George Street), at junction of Arley Street (formerly Cross George Street). George Hotel, No. 52, Boston Street. Demolition of back to back houses, Nos 54-60 Boston Street to the left of the George Hotel, on left. Photo taken circa 1930.

The trip had been organised by the innkeeper of The George Hotel, Boston Street, Sheffield, a Mr George Roberts.  He told the Inquest that the vehicle ran slowly - the estimate was seven miles per hour - and was more like a traction engine. Such was his concern he persuaded the chauffeur to stop at the Dore Moor Inn to examine the vehicle. The chauffeur said he could not understand why it was not running properly. Another witness stated that he saw the pole fifty yards ahead and motioned as well as shouted to the other passengers. But the vehicle seemed out of control. It just crashed into the pole and ran six yards. There was no side slip within thirty yards of the pole

The Coroner then adjourned the Inquest in order that plans of the accident spot could be prepared but intimated that the cause of the accident was either the wheels of the char-a-banc skidding into the gutter or whether the chauffeur drove into the gutter deliberately.

In April 2009, I managed to obtain a copy of the Manchester Guardian's report of the inquest which appeared in their edition dated 29th August 1907

The next report I accessed was that in The Manchester Guardian dated 5th September 1907 which dealt primarily with the evidence of the driver, Mr Victor Johns and a surveyor Mr E. H. Bramley

Unfortunately I do not know as yet the final conclusion of the inquest but there are a couple  of points that  J. Edward Vickers refers to. Mrs Fearn whose husband had died in the accident summoned a horse drawn hansom cab to take her home. On the journey home the horse slipped and fell, which in turn caused the shaft to break. The cab turned over and Mrs Fearn, was thrown into the road.  The lady by all accounts was shocked!.

The other was that the accident aroused fierce controversy in the local press with many correspondents condemning these vehicles. J. Edward Vickers quotes a Mr Charles Price of Hathersage who concluded his letter by stating that "Pedestrians have a right to use the highway without feeling that they are in danger of losing their lives by the pace of these huge machines...". The editor concurred with he posed the rhetorical question 

"Can there be a future in Sheffield for these vehicles"

However whilst I was aware that this fatal accident had occurred I did not know that this was not the first instance where a char-a-banc had crashed whilst on a day trip. The Scotsman on Friday 14th June 1907 reported that

CHAR-A-BANC OVERTURNED - 23 PASSENGERS THROWN OUT

An alarming char-a-banc accident occurred near Sheffield yesterday afternoon. A party of 250 organised by Sheffield Congregation and Baptist Deacons set out in five vehicles for the Derwent Valley waterworks at Birchinlee, and when two miles out of Sheffield the fourth vehicle overturned and the twenty-three occupants were thrown into the road. No-one was killed, but eleven of the passengers were injured, eight so seriously that they had to be taken to the Sheffield Royal Hospital. Alderman Wycliffe-Wilson, and ex-Lord mayor of Sheffield was on the coach but escaped with a severe shaking. Several other leading citizens were also of the party

 And so perhaps the local paper was right to be concerned about the future of such vehicles.

And as a postscript to the tragedy, the people who lost their lives were buried in Sheffield's City Road Cemetery (Grave references 5545, 5548 and 5549 in section EE1 of the cemetery).

The post script I mentioned in the previous paragraph did have unexpected results. In May 2010 I received an e-mail that stated

"I came across your website as I was searching the internet for information on the Moscar Top accident in 1907. I was visiting City Road cemetery today I was I was looking for various graves of relatives that are interred. (The good old geneology bug). My wife came across two graves while I we were looking around which referenced the crash. The first one was of William Ernest Harrison the young boy that died. Interestingly two graves away was another victim who is not listed in any of the information on your site, hence my email to you as I thought you may be interested. The grave is of Edith Slack who died of injuries on the 17th September 1907"   

I checked my records and found out that I did not know of Edith's death as it had occurred three weeks after the tragedy. And to date I had not obtained details of the Coroner's final verdict.

After replying to the e-mail, the sender kindly sent me photographs of the two graves in the Cemetery

 

As you can see the grave of William Harrison is still carefully and lovingly tended, over 100 years after the tragedy at Moscar. 

I checked the burial records for Sheffield's City Road Cemetery and found the following entries for Edith's grave

SLACK, Edith (Spinster, age 24).
Died at 1ct 2 Arley St; Buried on September 20, 1907 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 15547, Section EE1 of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

SLACK, William (Carter, age 79).
Died at 45 Boston St; Buried on October 8, 1927 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 15547, Section EE1 of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

The Monumental Inscription reads -

EDITH THE BELOVED DAUGHTER OF WILLIAM & ANNIE MARIA SLACK WHO DIED SEPTEMBER 17TH 1907 FROM INJURIES RECEIVED IN MOTOR ACCIDENT ON MOSCAR TOP AGED 24 YEARS

ALSO WILLIAM SLACK THE BELOVED FATHER OF THE ABOVE WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE OCT 5TH 1927 AGED 79 YEARS AT REST

ALSO WILLIAM THE BELOVED SON OF THE ABOVE AND HUSBAND OF ANNIE SLACK DIED AUGUST 27TH 1951 AGED 64 YEARS REST IN PEACE

ALSO ANNIE ELIZA DEAR WIFE OF THE ABOVE DIED FEBRUARY 22ND 1968 AGED 73 YEARS

RE-UNITED

The grave of WILLIAM ERNEST HARRISON is even more poignant if that is possible. Again  I checked the burial records for Sheffield's City Road Cemetery and found the following

HARRISON, William Ernest (Child, age 5).
Died at Killed in Motor Accident Moscar; Buried on August 30, 1907 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 15545, Section EE1 of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.
HARRISON, Alfred (Razor Grinder, age 28).
Died at Royal Hospital; Buried on August 2, 1923 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 15545, Section EE1 of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.
HARRISON, William (Retired, age 70).
Died at 17 Baron St; Buried on January 22, 1935 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 15545, Section EE1 of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

HARRISON, Elizabeth (wife of William, age 65).
Died at 17 Baron St; Buried on September 17, 1932 in Consecrated ground;
 AGED 20 YEARSGrave Number 15545, Section EE1-1 of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

The Monumental Inscription reads as far as I can tell-

IN LOVING MEMORY OF WILLIAM ERNEST, THE BELOVED SON OF WILLIAM AND ELIZABETH WHO WAS KILLED IN THE MOTOR ACCIDENT ON MOSCAR TOP AUGUST 25TH 1907 AGED 5 YEARS

IN THE MIDST OF LIFE, WE ARE IN DEATH

ALSO PTE FRANK HARRISON THE DEARLY BELOVED SON OF THE ABOVE WHO DIED OF WOUNDS APRIL 11TH 1917 AGED 20 YEARS

BURIED IN AUBIGNY COMMUNAL CEMETERY ARRAS

LOVED BY ALL

ALSO ALFRED THE BELOVED HUSBAND OF GRACE HARRISON

There are other members of the family listed on the the Monumental Inscription but I cannot make them out. To lose one a son in a motor accident, another ten years later in the Great War and then one six years after that must have been devastating for the grieving parents WILLIAM and ELIZABETH. The phrase "IN THE MIDST OF LIFE, WE ARE IN DEATH" seems very appropriate to this family

Notes

Name: HARRISON, FRANK
Initials: F
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Northumberland Fusiliers
Unit Text: 21st (Tyneside Scottish) Bn.
Age: 20
Date of Death: 11/04/1917
Service No: 35694
Additional information: Son of William and Elizabeth Harrison, of 17, Baron St., Sheffield.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: II. A. 23.
Cemetery: AUBIGNY COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

Aubigny-en-Artois is a village approximately 15 Kms north-west of Arras on the road (N39) to St. Pol. From the N39 turn onto the D75 towards the village of Aubigny-en-Artois. The Cemetery lies south on a road leading from the centre of the village, and the Extension is behind it.
Historical Information: Before March, 1916, Aubigny was in the area of the French Tenth Army, and 327 French soldiers were buried in the Extension to the West of what is now Plot IV. From March 1916 to the Armistice, Aubigny was held by Commonwealth troops and burials were made in the Extension until September 1918. The 42nd Casualty Clearing Station buried in it during the whole period, the 30th in 1916 and 1917, the 24th and 1st Canadian in 1917 (during the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps) and the 57th in 1918. The Extension now contains 2,771 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and seven from the Second World War. There are also 227 French burials made prior to March 1916, and 64 German war graves. The Extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

Another fatality of the crash is

Handley, Benjamin (Bricklayer, age 30).
Died at Killed in Motor Accident Moscar; Buried on August 30, 1907 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 15549, Section EE1 of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Marples, Eliza Ann (Wife of Albert, age 48).
Died at 953 Ecclesall Rod; Buried on July 8, 1926 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 15549, Section EE1 of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

It looks as though Benjamin's wife re-married an Albert Marples after losing her husband but was buried with Benjamin when she died in July 1926

In September 2010 I received a mail from a person who  came across this article "whilst looking for info on the Moscar Motor Mishap. In clearing my deceased mother's possessions, there is a collection of old postcards from her childhood and before, one of which is of the funeral of  '('Boy') Harrison's Grave'." The person then kindly took the time and the trouble to send me the card which is produced below

It looks as though from the photograph that William Harrison and Benjamin Handley were buried together. It is a remarkable photo.

And in March 2014 I was contacted by someone who had read this article

"I was very interested to read the section on this event.  I have three postcards relating to the event. I have the one shown on the site with people standing round the car. I have a second one of the wreck which is a side view with a gent at the back looking on.  Thirdly I have a different photo taken at the cemetery of a crowd clustering round the minister at the grave."

The reader then very kindly took the time and the trouble to scan and send me two of the postcards in question

 

 

A year later in March 2015 I then received this information from a descendent of Edith Slack, one of those who lost their lives as a result of the injuries they received in the accident.

" I'm a bit late on this but I read with interest your article on your web site regarding the Moscar crash incident. William Slack and Annie Maria (Shaw) Slack are my great grandparents and Edith Slack 1883-1907 was my grandmother, Florence Slack's sister. Edith, image attached died about three weeks after the incident at 1ct 2 Arley Street Sheffield.
I also attach a PDF of my original photograph post cards which are clearly the same as included in your article. The other image is of the ill fated vehicle W671 outside the George Hotel and clearly attached to the front is Mr Roberts of the George Hotel's advertising board.
Obviously the question must be, is that a photograph of the vehicle prior to the start of the trip that fateful morning. I tend to think it may be an earlier outing because there appears to be a lack of women and children within the photograph.

Edith Slack (1883-1907)

The charabanc W671 parked outside the George Hotel Boston Street Sheffield

I have attached another photograph, labeled Boston Street trip on the back, I suspect a William Slack is among the passengers, unfortunately the Slacks had a tradition right into the 1950's where the first born son was Christened William, good for tradition, a nightmare for research, the Slack family, I believe, referred to each as Bill senior, Bill and our young Bill



The photo may be later as the vehicle looks more robust and is facing the other way, but maybe still outside part of the pub. The character leaning against the wheel looks rather shifty
If you look closely there is a cross above one of the standing gents to the middle of the bus, which must be either my grand father Slack or Revell. I have further photos of the Boston Street trips which are believed to be fishing trips to the Ely area but they surely went by train as it would have took days in the type of vehicle shown, the Ely photos, which once again feature the Slacks and my paternal grandfather Lawrence Hanbury Revell, both families lived in the Boston Street / Harewood Street area"

Sources

A Popular History of Sheffield - J. Edward Vickers (p70)

The Sheffield Daily Independent dated Monday 26th August 1907

Manchester Guardian dated Monday 26th - 29th August 1907

The Scotsman - Thursday, 29th August 1907

The Scotsman -Friday 14th June 1907

Alderman Wycliffe-Wilson - John Wycliffe-Wilson was Lord Mayor of Sheffield 1902

And a big thank you to all those who have contacted me with information about this tragedy and the people that it affected

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This page was last updated on 10/04/15 18:51