Sunday 29 November 2009

Shillibeer's omnibus drama in Deptford

The debates over London's buses roll on, and we are still waiting to find out what the 'new Routemaster' will be like. Of course, one of the arguments against the old Routemaster was the potential danger of an open rear platform. We might have our own views on that, but imagine the greater risks offered by the original Shillibeer's omnibus. First, it had not only an open rear platform but also an entirely open upper deck. Add in poor suspension, poor road surfaces and a drop too much to drink, and you have the accident that befell poor Alexander Moore in July 1835:
FATAL ACCIDENT. – On Wednesday evening a collegeman named Alexander Moore 54 years of age fell from the roof of one of Mr. Shillibeer’s omnibuses in the Broadway, Deptford, by which his skull was fractured, and he was otherwise injured. He was immediately taken to the surgery of the Kent Dispensary, and every attention paid to him; but he expired within an hour after. The deceased was in liquor when the accident occurred, and a verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned at a Coroner’s inquest held on the body by C. J. Carttar, Esq.


Nicholas Bennett said...

Pity the story is illustrated with a picture of a horse tram dating from 40 years after Shillibeer's bus.

CarolineLD said...

It is indeed! Unfortunately I didn't have a Shillibeer's picture available, but this one does illustrate the point about the open top.

Minnie said...

Ouch - poor lad, and thank you for such well-illustrated hazards, Caroline. What's a 'collegeman', though?
Used to love the old Routemasters, hanging onto the pole as they swerved around corners - so appreciate the opportunity for some nostalgia.

CarolineLD said...

I was wondering what a 'collegeman' is, too - this article explains it was the local term for a resident of the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich.