In the later 1960s, I was in frequent contact by letter with Mick Duncan who was a Camberwell driver at the time.
I usually keep letters and news of the collision was in one of them. Mick stated as follows:
“20/3/68 A date the tramways won’t forget.
At about 12:30 PM Camberwell W2 559 with Driver Middlemo and Conductor Barrett on an Up to Spencer Street on River Street Route 28, a short working on Burwoods and North Balwyns collided side on with 304 on an Up Glen Iris at Flinders and Swanston. 304 was badly damaged, beyond economic repair we believe and 559 extensive cab damage and both cars derailed. The whole intersection was blocked.
So Kilda Road trams badly delayed as there is no shunt at the Up side of Flinders in Swanston so trams had to terminate on the other side. Trams between prang and City Shunt were trapped. It took over an hour to clear. 31 people were slightly hurt, one seriously, a motorcar was also involved.
Actual cause unknown but generally believed to have been caused by driver Mo blacking out due to a fright caused by a motorist on track at Russell Street. Estimated speed 10 to 15 mph for both cars. I don’t know 304’s crew or what happened to them.
559 might not be fixed. Both cars re-railed and 559 taken by Inspector Jim Dowel to Hawthorn.
304 which was much more badly damaged, extensive body damage round smoker and frame pushed sideways about 1 foot was also driven under her own power to Hanna Street [South Melbourne Depot] where I believe it still is.
Driver Middlemo is not suspended and an inquiry will be held. He has a doubtful heart and ulcers. I believe controls on 559 were controller off and brake off. Old “Mo” was slightly hurt. That’s about all I know about it.”
Maybe Mick gave news of any inquiry later but I don’t have time at present to search for that.
Nevertheless Peter Bruce’s comment below about Mo maybe falling asleep is still quite possible.
There as much other news about various collisions but what interested drivers perhaps more than anything was the introduction of Ferrodo brake shoes, depot by depot at that time. Drivers appreciated better braking and even passengers commented on the quieter trams as a result of their use. One point I did read was that some were falling off the trams because the mounting brackets were breaking.
On 9 Jul 2018, at 1:36 pm, Peter Bruce p1.bruce@...> wrote:
559 the aggressor. Wouldn’t be surprised if Dvr Middlemo had dropped off to sleep, not unknown on the second half of an early straight shift. Mick Duncan any better info?
Regards to all TDUs,
P.S. Hope to back from far beyond the Airport West terminus for the August gathering at the pub.
Sent from my iPad
> On 9 Jul 2018, at 8:06 am, Mal Rowe mal.rowe@...> wrote:
>> On 9/07/2018 12:55 AM, espee8800 wrote:
>> W2 304 not looking happy. Someone will have more information about this I assume. I tried a Trove search but obviously my key words were not right.
> I attach a scan of the news report in The Sun the following day.
> As Richard says, I think Driver Middlemo later changed his recollection of the cause of the event.
> There's a pic of 304 just before it was burnt in the TDU ad=rchives at: http://tdu.to/i/727
> Mal Rowe - amazed that there were no serious injuries
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