Local History Society

 Memories - Motorbike crash, 4th August 1931




By 1931, cars and motor-cycles were increasing in traction power, but they weren't quite so good in stopping. There were very many road accidents; in only ten months between January and October, there were around 1000 accidents and 10 fatalities within the Reading Borough boundary. Outside the towns, the country roads were generally in poor condition, and the Reading - Eversley Road didn't get a Tarmac surface until the 1930s.  Two fatal road accidents occurred on this road within 4 months. Here is the first, as reported by the 'Reading Mercury':


Collision with Lorry


A fatal motor-cycle accident which occurred at Arborfield on Tuesday morning was the subject of an inquest by the Reading coroner, Mr. J. L. Martin, sitting with a jury, yesterday (Friday). The motor-cyclist, David Dance, a jeweller’s assistant, age 21, of 40 Sherwood Street, Reading, was riding in the vicinity of Arborfield Bridge when he collided with a motor-lorry, and was thrown off. He died in the Royal Berkshire Hospital the same day. The young man was spending his holidays touring with his machine, and was returning to Reading after visiting a sister when the accident occurred.

The bereaved father, Sidney Christopher Dance, 43, King’s Road, Slough, said his son had ridden a motor-cycle only three or four months.

P. S. [Police Sargeant] Perkins, of Shinfield, said the accident occurred at a bend in the road about 50 yards on the Shinfield side of Arborfield Bridge. When he arrived at the scene of the accident he found the motor-cyclist and his machine lying at the side of the road, The man was unconscious, but the machine was not badly damaged. There was a scratch 13 ft. long on the road caused by one of the footrests of the motor-cycle. The lorry stopped 63 ft. from the point of impact.

This dangerous bend was eliminated when the river bridges were replaced (Ordnance Survey Map, 1940's)

Dangerous Bend.

The coroner asked P. S. Perkins for his opinion of the cause of the accident, and witness said he thought the motor-cyclist must have taken the corner “too wide”. “It is a wicked corner”, he added, “it looks easy to negotiate, but it is very deceptive, and two or three times a year we have vehicles driving right across the road and through the hedge”.

Witness proceeded that he saw from a mark in the sand at the side of the road that the lorry was being driven on the proper side of the road. He thought the motor-cyclist’s right knee, on which there was a deep cut, had just brushed the rear wheel of the lorry and that had thrown him out of balance. The driver of the lorry had told him that he felt no impact, but stopped when he heard a crash on the road behind him.

Horace Frank Moseley, Newport Road, Reading, the driver of the lorry, who was represented by Mr. T. O. L. Hawthorne, solicitor, said that when the accident occurred he was driving a load of timber for Messrs. George Lewis, Ltd. He estimated his speed on the corner at 10 to 14 miles an hour. He thought the motor-cyclist passed him safely, and had travelled several hundred yards before he heard the crash, which caused him to pull up.

Dr. W. I. Bain, a house surgeon at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, said the injured man had wounds on his right knee, elbow, hand and shoulder, and was bleeding from the right ear when admitted to the hospital. He died soon afterwards without recovering consciousness, and a post mortem examination showed that a blood vessel in the right lung had been torn. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death”, exonerating the driver of the lorry from blame.

With acknowledgements to the Reading Chronicle Series.

[In the 1950's there was a spectacular accident at about this point when a double-decker bus ended up on its side in a ditch. The road was re-aligned in the 1960s when the bridges were replaced]

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