In the space of eleven years, there were three serious accidents in John Street, Rochdale, involving trams; but the most spectacular was that which occurred at 4.25 p.m. on Monday 6th April 1925, between a single-decker tram driven by Clifford Robinson, aged 37 years and a Sentinel steam wagon owned by John Taylor and Co. Ltd., brewers of Pollard Street, Manchester, and driven by J.W. Reid of Longsight, Manchester.
The tram, carrying 35 passengers, had five minutes earlier left Rochdale Town Centre on its scheduled run to Littleborough and after turning left into John Street, had almost reached the top of that street, a climb of 330 yards and a gradient of one in twenty, when the Sentinel wagon turned into John Street from Yorkshire Street and began the descent.
For some unknown reason, the Sentinel’s near-side front wheel struck the near-side kerb outside the St. James’ Tavern, throwing the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands. The wagon then swerved into the middle of John Street and crashed into the tram, wrecking the control box and throwing the motorman, Robinson, back into the forward smoking compartment. The impact also catapulted the wagon driver out into the street. Completely out of control the tram now ran backwards down John Street with the terrified passengers unable to help themselves. At the bottom of the hill, the tram careered off the lines at the bend where John Street joins Smith Street and crashed into the front of the Rochdale Pioneers shop which stood at the junction.
As a result of this disturbing accident 22 passengers had to receive hospital treatment,11 of whom were detained, three with serious injuries.