From the Crediton Chronicle
Saturday 10 Mar 1917
A serious accident occurred on the Exeter Corporation tramway on Wednesday, involving the death of a woman passenger (Mrs. Findlay, aged 54), and injury to the driver and two other passengers. A horse was also killed, and the driver of a lorry to which it was attached was considerably bruised.
The tramcar was on its journey from Heavitree to St. Thomas just after 11.a.m. There were about half a dozen passengers aboard. At the top of Fore Street, the car was stopped opposite St. Olave's Church, and after being re-started it seems to have got out of control of Sanders, the driver. The gradient on Fore Street Hill is at its sharpest some thirty or forty yards from St. Olave's stopping place. the car gained momentum rapidly and by the time it was opposite King Street was travelling at a very fast pace.
At that point, the L and SW Railway lorry of Chaplin & Co obstructed the line. Its driver, John Robinson, was leading the horse, to avoid a barrow which was on the tram track. The runaway car struck the lorry violently, forcing it off the tram track and on to the pavement. So violent was the impact that the horse was dashed into the front of the shop and broke its neck, killing it instantly. Robinson, the carman, had a providential escape, for in falling just escaped the shaft and fell clear of the falling horse so that his injuries were limited to a blow in the chest and grazes on the side of his face and hands. The load was shot across the pathway.
Meanwhile the tramcar had continued its course down Fore Street hill. The driver stuck to his post but was powerless to check the pace of the vehicle, which gathered momentum and swayed and lurched in an alarming manner. Its course was watched with consternation by passers-by, and the excitement and alarm were increased by the hysterical and frightened screams of onlookers and women passengers. the latter rushed up and down inside the car at their wits' end with fear.
At the points in Bridge Street, where Commercial Road and Bonhay Road join the main thoroughfare, the car jerked more violently than ever, and a yard or two further on left the rails and ran athwart the up-line, along the wood blocks with which the roadway of the Exe bridge is laid. As the flange of the wheels embedded themselves in the wood paving the impetus of the car was checked, but it swayed and lurched as it travelled some 20 or 30 yards in a slanting direction across the bridge. It struck the kerb, swung round, toppled on its base, striking a lamp standard on the parapet of the bridge, and then came crashing down on its side about half way across Exe Bridge and right across the roadway, blocking it. Splintered glass flew in all directions, and the crash as the heavy vehicle came down was terrifying; but so far as could be seen, the structure of the car was comparatively little damaged.