Retro: The forgotten tragedy that was Sheffield's first horrific motor disaster

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It started as a happy day out from a popular Sheffield hotel. But it ended up making a tragic piece of Sheffield history.

This picture, reproduced from the Star’s 1988 book Sheffield Since 1900, shows a party of day trippers from a city pub, the George Hotel, on Boston Street, Highfield, which was about to head off to Derbyshire on August 25, 1907 for a day out. Going by a motor vehicle, in this case a charabanc, was a rare experience at the time, with few cars on the roads.

But tragedy struck – with the day out ended as Sheffield’s first serious motor accident in an era before road safety schemes.

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In our 1988 book, writer Peter Harvey wrote: “The trip ended in disaster. On its way back to Sheffield in heavy rain, while trying to overtake a two horse carriage near Moscar Top, the charabanc collided with a telegraph pole, swerved, and hit a wall.

Day trippers on the charabanc at the George Hotel, Boston Street, before it set off on what was to become Sheffield's first motoring disasterDay trippers on the charabanc at the George Hotel, Boston Street, before it set off on what was to become Sheffield's first motoring disaster
Day trippers on the charabanc at the George Hotel, Boston Street, before it set off on what was to become Sheffield's first motoring disaster

“Three of the passengers were killed, including the seven year old boy pictured on the front seat, who had only joined the trip at the last minute.”

Another 12 people were seriously injured. One, a woman, died of her injuries three weeks later, bringing the death toll in the disaster to four.

It was the city’s first serious motor accident and it caused widespread shock. It was also the subject of a series of picture postcards at the time.

The charabanc W671, known as the Roscoe, was the first public passenger motor vehicle to operate for hire in Sheffield, and it had been in service just over a year when the tragedy happened.