Kingsland tram tragedy of 1903 to be formally recognised with ceremony

A lithograph of the Kingsland tram tragedy of 1903.

A lithograph of the Kingsland tram tragedy of 1903.

A search has begun for relatives of those involved in an Auckland tram disaster.

On Christmas Eve, 1903 a fatal collision between two trams on New North Road, Kingsland killed three and injured up to 60.

Now, 113 years later two Kingsland community members want the tragedy to be formally recognised.

Margi Watson and Christine Foley are asking for relatives of those involved in a Kingsland tram tragedy to come forward.

Margi Watson and Christine Foley are asking for relatives of those involved in a Kingsland tram tragedy to come forward.

Kingsland Business Society manager Christine Foley and Margi Watson of the Albert-Eden Local Board are planning a commemoration ceremony for the disaster.

Auckland heritage toilets set for makeover
Family history lights up wall

Watson and Foley have a full list of names of those involved in the disaster and would love for relatives to come forward. 

A number of people involved in the tragedy were integral to the development of Kingsland.

Foley, who learned of the tragedy eight years ago, says the event was significant because most people in the area would have been connected to someone in the tragedy.

"I wondered whether the fact that it was so raw for people and so tragic being at Christmas, that might have something to do with the fact there's never been a formal commemoration."

Foley has spent time researching the event by scouring archives at Auckland Central Library.

Ad Feedback

According to various newspaper reports the accident involved a full double decker tram headed towards Eden Terrace at around 8.30pm.

While the tram was waiting for another tram to clear the way, a brake failed and the car began to roll back towards Kingsland.

As it hurtled through the darkness the tramcar reached a speed of more than 60kmh and collided with another tram coming from Kingsland.

An inquest found the cause of the collision was through a "ratchet brake" failing.

Foley says the site of the collision is said to be roughly between modern day King Street and New Bond Street.

Albert Eden Local Board member Margi Watson says a formal commemoration is an opportunity to reflect on the impact the event had at a local level.

Watson says that while none of those involved are still alive today, it's about expressing family stories.

"We still can't forget where we've come from to make sure we do things well in the future."

A large pohutukawa tree now sits on the corner of King Street and New North Road which Foley believes was likely planted as a memorial, as most other trees in the area were removed for development.

"Everything else has been slash and burn. That has had a protection order and so I'm just thinking it's got to have been planted for that reason."

The ceremony will take place on December 23 and will involve unveiling of a new plaque on the site of the pohutukawa.

Relatives of victims will be invited to light a small lantern.

The crash killed Mt Eden resident Ann Young Hogarth, Benjamin Morrison Lindsay of Kingsland and William Caley, an accountant of New North Road.

For a full list of those involved visit and search 'tram'.

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback