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Dover Corporation Tramways - War and an Accident

The tramway system experienced many difficulties during the  First World War with shortages of materials and spare parts. It  became harder to repair the tracks and maintain the tram cars,  so the system began to deteriorate. When the air-raids started the evening services were curtailed  to enable all trams to be back in their depots by 10 p.m. Manpower shortages led to women being employed for the first  time, initially only as conductors but by the end of the war there were three women drivers on the staff. The worst event in the history of the Dover tramway occurred  on 19th August 1917, when tram No.20, on its way to River,  went out of control at the top of Crabble Road, ran away down  the steep gradient and overturned at the bottom. Eleven people  were killed and 60 injured, figures which indicate that the car  was seriously overloaded as it had seating for 22 on the lower  and 26 on the upper deck. The descent of the Crabble Road gradient required some skill on  the part of the driver even with an empty car.  The main  problem was the junction of Crabble Hill and Crabble Road.  There was no level ground for the tram to pull up on after its  climb up Crabble Hill on full power before the steep descent of  Crabble Road. The procedure was to stop on the brow of the hill  by cutting off power on approach and applying the handbrake.  The emergency brakes were then applied and the handbrake  released slightly to allow the car to move down by gravity.  Sometimes a little power was required to start the car. The enquiry into the accident found that the tram was  overcrowded. In addition to this the tram was being driven by  an inexperienced driver. The driver had difficulty working the  complicated emergency brake, and the result of this was that  the tram went down the hill at full power rather than full  emergency brake.  
Back to Tramways Index Back Next Car number 23 at Buckland.  The presence of a female conductor means this picture must date from the First World War period. Tram No. 20 (built in 1905) overturned at Crabble Road on 19 August 1917. Tram No. 20 (built in 1905) overturned at Crabble Road on 19 August 1917. Tram No. 20 (built in 1905) overturned at Crabble Road on 19 August 1917. Tram No. 20 (built in 1905) overturned at Crabble Road on 19 August 1917.