ON the bus on his way to work, James Cherrie spotted a friend, and the two men moved upstairs for a chat and a smoke.

It was a decision which cost James his life.

Minutes later, the bus skidded and overturned, sliding into the path of an oncoming tram.

James and six fellow passengers, including a 16-year-old girl, who were all on the top deck of the bus, were killed, and 43 people were injured. Nurses and doctors from nearby hospitals, who heard the horrendous crash, rushed to the scene to help.

Glasgow Times: James CherrieJames Cherrie (Image: Joy Knight)

It was May 24, 1950, and James’s daughter Joy was a young child at the time. She has never forgotten the events of that terrible day, however, and recently, she got in touch with the Glasgow Times to ask if other readers recall the crash.

“I wonder if there was ever a memorial to the men and women killed on their way to work that fateful day?” she asks.

“It would be a great thing to have a public memorial on the site.”

Glasgow Times: The Cherrie family on holiday - Joy, brothers, Billy and John, and mum FlorrieThe Cherrie family on holiday - Joy, brothers, Billy and John, and mum Florrie (Image: Joy Knight)

Tram accidents, like this one pictured in 1951 (main image), when two cars collided blocking traffic in the city centre for hours, were rare.

But this one, between the citybound bus and the Anniesland tram, shocked the city.

Our sister newspaper, the then Glasgow Herald, reported the story the next day, under the headline: “Seven dead in city collision – tramcar cuts through top deck of overturned bus."

Glasgow Times: A map, printed in the newspaper, shows the location of the crashA map, printed in the newspaper, shows the location of the crash (Image: Newsquest)

It continued: “One of the worst accidents in the history of Glasgow Corporation Transport Department occurred yesterday when seven persons were killed and 43 injured in a collision in which a tramcar embedded itself in a bus which had skidded and overturned in Great Western Road.”

The dead were Harry McGrane, 45, of Woodside Street; Margaret Macandrew, 16, of Towerhill Road; John Allan, 55, of Ripon Drive, who was postmaster of Kirkintilloch; James Wilson, 29 of Friarcourt Avenue, who was blind and on his way to the Royal Asylum for the Blind in Possilpark, where he had been a carpenter for 13 years; Richard Wright, 45 of Palmer Avenue; Joseph Ferns, 20, of Shafton Road; and Joy’s dad James, who was 41.

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James, who served in the air force during World War Two, lived on Fulton Street in Knightswood. He was married to Florrie, and the couple had three children – Joy and her two brothers John and Billy.

Joy recalls her mother getting to know Mrs Allan, of Ripon Drive, the widow of John Allan, who died in the crash.

Glasgow Times: Joy and Garry in New ZealandJoy and Garry in New Zealand (Image: Joy Knight)

“After the accident, we’d go and have tea with her at tearooms in Anniesland, and sometimes at her home,” she says.

“I remember being very fascinated by her. Once, we visited and she was painting the ceiling herself, and she was reading an encyclopaedia, which was very exciting to me.  She had an academic mind. My own mother cooked and cleaned and sewed – she did not work, it wasn’t done in those days.”

The accident occurred near Beaconsfield Road, reported The Glasgow Herald.

“The bus, which was filled with passengers, skidded, swung across the roadway and fell on its side across the tram rails,” the newspaper said.

“The oncoming tramcar crashed into the bus, ripping through the top deck and became locked with the bus. Many of the passengers were thrown on to the roadway…but others were trapped inside.”

Local nurses, doctors and passers-by were the heroes of the hour, reported the Herald.

Matron Helen Somerville, of Homeland Nursing Home, crawled through the wreckage to offer morphine to a woman badly injured in the crash, while more than 50 nurses from the Royal Glasgow Mental Hospital and Redlands Hospital rushed to the scene.

“Drugs, bandages and urns of tea brought by maids from the hospitals and nursing homes were used to comfort the injured as they were removed from the vehicle,” the newspaper said.

“The conductress of the tram car described the escape of the driver of the tram as ‘miraculous’. He was trapped in his cabin behind the iron staircase after the collision.

“A passer-by who took part in the rescue work said that the bus driver broke from his driving cabin and began tearing at the sides of his bus to free the passengers.”

Alexander Carmichael, one of the passengers on the lower deck of the bus, said he heard screams from the upper deck when the tram ploughed into the bus.

“I heard…the crunch of twisting metal and breaking glass, then just above my head I was horrified to see the driving cabin of the tramcar pierce the roof of the lower deck,” he told the newspaper.

Joy, now a grandmother to Jura, five, and three-year-old Coll, lives in New Zealand with her husband Garry Knight.  She trained as a florist on Great Western Road before moving to London and Paris, and eventually settled in New Zealand. She and Gerry have been married for 49 years.

“I was so young when my dad died, but I have always wondered if anything was done to remember these people in Glasgow,” she says.

“It would be a fitting memorial to achieve some recognition for those who lost their lives, and those who were injured, as well as the wonderful people who came to their rescue.”

Do you recall the 1950 crash? Get in touch with Times Past to share your stories, by emailing ann.fotheringham@glasgowtimes.co.uk