Memories: The Hatfield double decker crash that took the roof off a bus

PUBLISHED: 16:00 14 October 2018

The Welwyn Times and Hatfield Herald coverage from 1972 - seen here on microfilm. Picture: Hertfordshire Archives

The Welwyn Times and Hatfield Herald coverage from 1972 - seen here on microfilm. Picture: Hertfordshire Archives

Hertfordshire Archives

In 1972, a re-routed double decker bus in Hatfield was peeled open like a sardine can when the driver underestimated the height of a bridge.

The Welwyn Times and Hatfield Herald coverage from 1972 - seen here on microfilm. Picture: Hertfordshire ArchivesThe Welwyn Times and Hatfield Herald coverage from 1972 - seen here on microfilm. Picture: Hertfordshire Archives

On January 24, the 341 Hatfield to St Albans service attempted to go under Fiddlebridge, then in Lemsford Road, when it was off-route.

The Welwyn Times and Hatfield Herald (WTHH, the precursor to this newspaper) wrote on Friday, January 28: “Just like a sardine can, the roof as far down as the luggage-rack was peeled off.”

One of the mildly injured passengers, Mr Kenneth Woodcock, told the WTHH he estimated the bus had been going between 22 to 25 miles per hour, and said: “I was sitting upstairs and could see what was going to happen.

“Downstairs someone kept ringing the bell and I thought the driver was going to stop.

“But as the bus got nearer the bridge it began to gather speed.

“I realise[d] it was not going to stop and began to run towards the back of the bus. I told two girls to duck, but they did not seem to take it in.

“There was one big smash and in seconds the roof had gone, and we were on the other side of the bridge.”

Four people were injured in the crash, two of them seriously, and were taken to The QEII hospital.

The London Country Bus Service, which operated the service, said it was planning to launch an enquiry into the incident.

The WTHH reported that the driver, a resident of Hertford, suffered shock.

Amazingly, it was not the first time the bridge had been crashed into.

“I saw the same thing happen under the same bridge nearly 20 years ago,” said Kenneth.

The present-day Facebook group ‘Hatfield of yesteryear...’ agrees.

Several members recall the earlier incident in the 1960s, when fortunately the bus was empty but the driver either forgot what route he was on, or forgot he was on a double decker.

There is no longer a bridge at Fiddlebridge.

Do you remember either of these bus crashes? Write to news@whtimes.co.uk

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