Wallasey Mishaps

Birkenhead Advertiser
Saturday, 22nd August 1931

Wallasey Bus Horror
Victim's Birkenhead Associations
Sister Of Ex-Councillor

A ghastly bus accident occurred at Kings Street, Wallasey, on Tuesday evening, when Mrs. Cecilia Whitman (39), formerly Miss Cecilia Triplett, of Birkenhead, was killed on a Corporation bus.

Mrs. Whitman, who resided at 15, Seabank Road, was the wife of Mr. Edgar Whitman, the chief electrical operator of the Lyceum Picturedrome, King Street, Wallasey.

They were both returning home after a day's shopping in Liverpool and joined the bus leaving Seacombe Ferry for Albion Street, New Brighton, at five o'clock. It was a six-wheeled double deck bus, and they took their seats near the front, on the lower deck. As they were approaching the Lyceum Picturedrome, which is only fifty yards from their residence, they prepared to alight.

Mr. Whitman had got up first and was nearly as far as the door. He turned round to see that his wife was following in order to assist her with her parcels, when he was horrified to see that she had disappeared through the floor. The driver had jammed on the brakes, and springing from the bus Mr. Whitman saw the body of his wife, practically denuded on the road. He was taken into a nearby office in a collapsed condition, where he remained until the arrival of the ambulance, which removed the body of his wife to the Victoria Central Hospital, and then to the mortuary. The accident had an overpowering effect on many of the passengers, one woman being carried into a nearby shop in a dead faint.

When Mr. Whitman stood up she was seen to suddenly fall through the floor. Her clothes were presumably caught by the revolving shaft and torn from her. She was killed instantaneously.

Ex-Councillor's Sister

Mrs. Cecilia Whitman is a member of a well-known Birkenhead family. Her brother is Mr. Harry Tripplett, the former councillor for Clifton Ward, the circumstances of whose resignation caused so much interest at the time. Her father retired about two years ago as an inspector at Woodside Station, and there is a brother working as an inspector at the Birkenhead Docks.

Disappeared Through Floor

At the inquest yesterday, held by the West Cheshire Coroner (Mr. J.C. Bate), Arnold Jasper Summer, 78 Mount Pleasant Road, New Brighton, a passenger on the bus, said that as they were approaching the stop at the bottom of Trafalgar Road he saw some persons get up to pass along the gangway to the platform in order to alight. "The first thing that attracted my attention", he said, "was a thump and a scream. I looked inside the bus, and I saw a woman disappearing through the floor". The bus was slowing down on approaching the stopping-place at Trafalgar Road.

A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned, the jury finding that Mrs. Whitman met her death through falling through the trap-door in the floor of the motor bus and being crushed by the revolving coupling shaft in consequence of the bolts of the coupling shaft breaking. The jury also found that there was no evidence of neglect in the maintenance of the bus, and they added a rider that steel supports should be used for the floor boards.