Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Horse Buses and bicycles don't mix on New North Road

This from the Auckland Star, 13 December 1882:
An accident, fortunately unattended by serious results, happened to Potter's 'bus this morning while passing Bowen's store, Mount Albert Road. The appearance of a bicyclist startled the horses, causing them to swerve so suddenly that the conveyance was capsized. Those on top escaped bruises by jumping clear of the 'bus as it fell. An inside passenger, Mrs. Foley, sustained severe contusions on the head and wrist, but other ladies and children inside escaped without serious injury. Mr. Potter has supplied us with the following statement concerning the accident:-- "A bicyclist met me near Bowen's bakery. The bicyclist, instead of going off the road, jumped off his machine right in front of my leader, causing the horses to shy and go over a bit of a bank, and the coach capsized. There were six or seven inside and eight outside passengers, several of whom were injured. Mrs. Foley received a severe shaking and was hurt, and was conveyed to her residence at New Lynn, where medical assistance was speedily obtained. Mrs Wilkie was also slightly hurt." The driver's arm, hip and shoulder were bruised, and several others got off with bruises and cuts.
The next day, the NZ Herald  added additional information that the bicyclist was a builder named Keye ...

...who, at the time was proceeding to Mount Albert, where he is at present erecting a house. On meeting the omnibus, instead of turning his bicycle off the road, he turned into the centre of the road, and there jumped from the bicycle right in front of the leader.
The names of other passengers who were hurt were given as: Mrs Wilkie, Miss Stevens, Miss Thompson, Mr Malcolm, Mr Ogg, Mr Johnston and Mr Patterson. The springs, body, and topseats of the coach were broken and smashed.

A land agent named John R Randerson fired off a letter to the Star which was published on the 14th.

To the Editor:
Sir, -- There is no doubt that the bicyclist was the cause of the Mount Albert 'bus accident (and I speak positively), as yesterday morning, in driving to town, being about 10 or 15 minutes ahead of Potters 'bus, I met a person on a bicycle, nearly opposite Kingsland Post-office, who was nearly the cause of an accident [by their] negligently turning, as if he intended me to go off the road to make room for him, and only turning towards the side of the road when very near my horse's head. The horse shied, and was nearly taking the buggy over the furze bushes on the side of the road. Now this bicyclist had just time to get to the scene of the accident, and there is no doubt as to the individual being the same. I think bicyclists should be answerable to law for accidents caused by their carelessness. They should get close to the side of the road on meeting any vehicles.
William Potter appears to have operated a horse-bus service, initially from a base in New Lynn (the Northern Omnibus Company included his site, and mentioned abolishing it  in December 1883), and then from Blake Street in Avondale (now St Judes) just down from the railway line from about 1884, when he purchased land from James Palmer. He owned that land until 1900. The earlier New Lynn site could have been alongside or close to that of the later Poudrette Factory, as Mr. Quick (noted 'bus proprietor in Auckland at the time) had land there.) At this stage, I have no further info on William Potter, or his 'bus service -- but, I'm still looking.

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