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Tony Flynn
An unusual if not amusing tale from January 1919 regarding an incident on the old Salford tramcars which were a familiar sight on the streets of Salford from 1901 - 1949, admittedly we have a tram service running through our fair city, but.....

This story concerns the Black family, Ada and her husband Benjamin who lived on Broadway, the road at the side of Salford Docks.

Trouble began when they boarded the already full tram at Regent Bridge next to the old Grove's and Whitnall brewery and soon after a fight broke out which ended in a court case at Salford Magistrates Court.

Ada and Benjamin appeared before Mr J. Bolton the Chief Magistrate charged with allegedly assaulting Edith Griffiths the tram conductress and tram Inspector, Mr Sutcliffe.

Edith was first in the dock and told the Magistrate that she was the conductress on the 98 tram which was running from Deansgate to Salford Docks via, Water Street.

The tram departed at 9.20pm with a full compliment of passengers which included nine standing inside and six standing on the upper deck, and before setting off Edith put the safety chain across the rear platform to indicate that the tram was full and also to stop people sneaking on.

At Regent Bridge she was upstairs collecting fares, no people left the tram but two people had boarded it and had blatantly lifted the safety chain to gain entry! Is nothing sacred?

When the tram arrived at the junction of Cross Lane and Trafford Road, ticket Inspector Sutcliffe got on board and asked Edith had everybody got a ticket, so she decided to check on the two mystery passengers and was met with total silence when asked if they had purchased tickets.

She asked again and was told by Ada Black, 

"What's your problem, we are in no hurry", 

I would have taken that as a no and left her alone.

Edith then informed Inspector Sutcliffe what had happened, he then bravely informed her to get their names and addresses, after such such a robust reply from Ada I would have told him to ask them, surely that was his job, you wouldn't have had this nonsense from Blakey from "On the Buses"

Ada once again asked Ada Black for her name and was met with a punch to the side of the head, to which she cried out, 

"You Awful woman, what did you do that for?"

Inspector Sutcliffe attempted to separate the two women and was punched in the the face by Benjamin Black for his troubles.

All four of them spilled off the bus and Benjamin continued to pummel Inspector Sutcliffe, ripping the buttons off his prized tunic and bending his thumbs backwards which he described as, "severely hurting me"

The boys in blue were quickly on the scene but not before Ada took to her heels and ran off, only to be caught by PC Usher and the Black's were taken into custody.

In her defence Ada told the court that she had offered to pay her fare but the conductress told her she was too busy to collect any more fares and that she was the one assaulted, a claim that Benjamin backed up, adding that he too was assaulted by Inspector Sutcliffe.

Oddly enough the Chairman of the Bench said that the conductress was to blame for this incident by taking the safety chain off the rear platform and for, 

"Making rather more of the incident than was necessary"

However he added that Ada had no right to strike the conductress and fined her five shillings.

As for Benjamin Black, incredibly all charges were dropped against him! in my opinion he was the guiltier of the two by assaulting both the conductress and the Inspector.

No moral to be learnt here then or to quote Hunter S Thompson,

"Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion"

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