First fatal automobile accident, 1834

First fatal automobile accident, 1834

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: First fatal automobile accident. 19th century artwork of the explosion of a steam stagecoach in Paisley, Scotland, on 29 July 1834. One of the wheels collapsed, rupturing the boiler which exploded, killing 5 people. This is said to be the first fatal automobile accident. Following the accident, further steam stagecoach journeys were banned. The Scottish engineer John Scott Russell (1808-1880) had started the service, between Glasgow and Paisley, in April 1834. The distance was covered in 34 minutes, at speeds of up to 27 kilometres an hour. The stagecoaches carried 26 passengers, but were very popular and were often overcrowded. Based on eyewitness accounts, this artwork was later published in Histoire de la Locomotion Terrestre (Paris, 1936).

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