HOW could you get from one part of Southampton to another without paying for your fare? Though he was aged just ten, wily William Clark knew the answer. All he had to do was to keep an eye out for the conductor.

A simple enough practice on the surface, it seemed. But a dangerous tactic to employ as a tragedy underlined.

When the vehicles were full, he craftily worked out where the conductor was collecting fares before vaulting onto the outside step. When he approached, the youngster jumped off.

For months he had got away with the trick, one he was determined to continue on a service with the West Station as its destination in October, 1903.

Clark spotted the conductor at the front and jumped on to the step but for once he was ultimately lose out.

Working his way through the standing passengers, the official realised what the artful dodger was doing and made a grab for him but initially no avail.

Clark saw him coming and skipped off.

Running alongside the tram until his old foe returned to the front, he thought the opportunity of a free ride had presented itself again.

However, just as Clark felt he had got away with it, he momentarily lost of the conductor who grabbed him as the tram reached the station - and there was no letting go.

"But I've got no money," he vainly pleaded.

Hard luck was the substance of the reply and the tramcar company were also not forgiving. They took him to court - but for a double purpose.

They also wanted press publicity as Tom Ford from the town clerk's department explained.

"There is considerable danger in jumping on and off the car," he said. "Only a few weeks ago, such a fatal accident occured and it is hoped this summons will prove a warning to other boys."

A contrite Clark realised the folly, nodding in agreement and promising not to do it again.

The court chairman James le Feuvre told Clark that in the circumstances they would let him off but only on the understanding that he kept his word.

But he isseed a strong warning: "If boys persist in risking their lives in this way, they will not only be brought to court but will be fined as well."