Trams Sandwiches

News and Views from the Brisbane Tramway Museum - By David Fryer

Motorist squashed between two early electric trams Brisbane 1935. Photo courtesy State Library of Queensland

Offering No.1 – Crunch Time for the Morsel of Fortitude.

Talk about a rock and a really hard place! The two ten-tonne trams may have got off lightly in this unfortunate bingle, but the same can’t be said for the crumpled car. 

The remarkable incident occurred in Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, during the busy morning rush-hour on June 4th, 1935. Fortunately, the car driver – Alan Palmer Wynne of New Farm – escaped without injury, but his motor car was a write-off. 

Two tram passengers were also mentioned in contemporary newspaper reports: Mary Griffith, 10, of Bowen Street, Fortitude Valley, was on her way to school and seated at the front of the tram with Miss Mary Kenneally, a domestic worker from Spring Hill. Both suffered shock as a result of the collision and they were treated by ambulance bearers at the scene. Mary junior was later taken home and rewarded with a day off school, but Mary senior was admitted to the Royal Brisbane Hospital for further treatment. 

Look closely at the press photo and you can also see a man with a bandaged hand surveying the wreckage. Was he a fellow passenger, an unreported casualty? Is he the driver, Mr Wynne? Or was he a tram worker injured during the recovery? Research failed to turn up any clues, so we can only speculate. 

The make of car is also a mystery; all attempts to identify it have so far failed. However, we do know that Mr Wynne assisted in dragging his crumpled wreckage off the tracks.  

As for the trams – ‘Californian Combination’ No. 57 (on the left) was constructed in Brisbane in 1903 using an American-made chassis. Colloquially called a ‘Matchbox Tram’, it was already old hat by 1935, so it’s hardly surprising that it was scrapped after colliding with another tram in 1939.  The body was last seen languishing behind a shop in Paddington some time later, but its purpose and fate are unknown. The other tram remains unidentified.

If you want to sample a tram sandwich, then head out to the Brisbane Tramway Museum at Ferny Grove where there are plenty of tasty examples on offer. ‘Matchbox Sister’ – tram 47 – is there (made in 1901), but there are also ‘Toast-Rack’ trams, ‘Dropcentre’ trams, ‘Baby Dreadnoughts’ and more. 

You can ride a genuine Matchbox most Sunday afternoons, but don’t expect to see any crumpled cars on the tracks when you arrive. These days, you are more likely to see a tram tastefully sandwiched between classic cars or snap-happy trippers. Now that would make a cracker for the album. Don’t forget to say cheese………..

The Brisbane Tramway Museum is proudly supported by the Brisbane City Council.

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