Note: Page under re-arrangement - eventually to include at least a couple of views from all 22 existing operators 1962-72
As with companion page MUNICIPAL BUSES it will necessarily be some time before I can complete all the captioning - in the meantime please enjoy the photos
Trolleybus extensions were increasingly rare as the sixties began. Bradford managed one (its last) near the very start of the decade, but Maidstone was another exception. Much of the then quite new Parkwood Estate there was still to be built when the route from the town centre was taken right into it in anticipation of serving the new housing. This ex-Hastings Tramways vehicle, a 1948 Weymann bodied Sunbeam, was photographed with signs of new housebuilding all around at the then terminus in the summer of 1964. It might be a little difficult to identify this exact spot today. Maidstone's trolleys finally bowed out in April 1967. Their passing signalled the end of the attractive and unusual ochre brown/cream livery as replacement buses were attired in a not unpleasant shade of pale blue.
At the start of the 1960s the future was not at all rosy for these hybrids, which had been adopted with great enthusiasm up and down the country, mostly in the 1930's as replacements for worn out tramways. Outside of London, where the probably then largest system in the world was well on the way out, only municipal operations were soon left, the last company owned fleet (Mexborough & Swinton - part of the BET group) succumbing in 1961. I have always had a sneaking admiration for them and indeed grew up cutting my London bus-spotting teeth on local routes to me 660/664/666/645, and when visiting my grandmother at Harlesden, also the 662, and the 626/628 & 630 when these were seen at Craven Park or Jubilee Clock or the Wormwood Scrubs area. Up to my mid-teens this included those remaining bespatted members of the AEC C classes - always my firm favourites.
March of 2012 marked four decades since trolleybuses last operated on British streets, the last municipal examples running in Bradford in 1972, although our continental cousins are wiser and have kept on improving theirs in many places. It's not impossible that they'll make a comback here (Leeds??) but judging by the appearance of some of the latest European types I don't think I'm going to like them much if they do, (they won't get on this page as they're unlikely to be municipally operated anyway) and I'll have to live my old age with memories of better times - thank goodness for Sandtoft and Carlton Colville and the Black Country Living Museum - see page Rallies & The Preservation Scene - an occasional visit to these and a few rides helps keep those memories alive of what a trolleybus should look, feel and sound like).
From 1962 to 1972 I visited (most all too briefly,and with too many missed opportunities) all of the twenty-two UK systems remaining after London. Share with me then,following a few more from Maidstone, the only operator which I consider to be the 'south-east', this selection from that fascinating era - I have grouped them into eight geographical sections viz.
South-East, South, East & East Coast, Midlands, Lancashire, Yorkshire, North-East, Scotland Ireland & Wales.
TROLLEYBUSES OPERATED 1.05.1928-15.04.1967
Mainstay of this compact little system in its last years was twelve of these Sunbeam-BTH models that were delivered new in 1946 with Northern Coachbuilders bodies. They lasted until the operation closed in 1967.
We've all heard of 'Ferry Across The Mersey' but here's a 'Trolley across the Medway' Somehow I don't think a song with that title would be so well remembered!
One of a pair acquired in 1959 from Brighton Corporation. This vehicle survives today and it is occasionally operational at the East Anglia Transport Museum, Carlton Colville Lowestoft.
No. 67 heads for the terminus at the last extension of the system.
No.68 arrives at the Loose terminus which in 1963 presented a rather rural image. Was there really a branch of the Women's Institute there?
I think though that locals pronounced it 'Lews'
The Barming terminus was at the Bull Inn (opposite) and a small turning circle was provided near to the village church. No.56 was one of five Sunbeam/BTH delivered 1943-45 to wartime utility specification and which had their bodies replaced in 1960 by Roe.
No.72 was decorated and illuminated like this to comemmorate the closure. It ran around the system during the last week of operation but was not allowed to carry passengers until the VIP party boarded for the final ceremonial run. This shot is from earlier on the last day and it is also seen turning at the Barming terminus. The three young lads on the left would all be in their fifties now, quite possibly grandfathers!
I was standing on the high wall of a churchyard to capture this view. I recall doing the same thing using flash on the last evening of operation and this attracted the attention of a mobile police patrol, however they accepted that I was not up to anything suspicious and let me carry on.
No.72 (HKR 11) again is seen this time on the final journey carrying civic dignitaries and special guests into the town centre to formally close the system on 15th April 1967. Like No.52 above it survives today,having been returned to normal condition, and operates quite frequently to carry visitors at the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft, North Lincolnshire. It was about nineteen years old above but in 2011 was a grand old 64 - everyone still loved it, I'm sure!
TROLLEYBUSES OPERATED 18.07.1936 - 03.11.1968
I visited Reading a few times in the trolleybus era. This was the first occasion, a Sunday in August of 1962 when few trolleybuses were on the road and I only got a couple of usable shots. Fortunately one of them was of No.181
working a service to Caversham Bridge which lost its trolleys early on.
Also seen in August of 1962, No.180 turns at St. Mary's Butts
Looks like Tilehurst terminus?
Back to Stations - just starting away from Northumberland Avenue stand.
139 emerges from Mill Lane Depot to start a duty. Its conductor pulls the frog to set it on the right road to enter the highway.
I often found when visiting trolleybus systems, always at times when they were part way through closure proceedings, that the crews were quite fond of their charges and sometimes, like this pair, wanted to be photographed with them. I remember sending each of them a print. I must say that No.175, at Armour Hill terminus, looked very smart, being devoid of off-side advertising.
THE FINAL CURTAIN - READING'S LAST DAY
Scenes from 3rd November 1968
Surely they were never so popular? - Long queues forming at Wokingham Road for a last chance to ride on 3.11.68.
Local businesses sponsored 'Goodbye To Reading's Trolleybuses' side adverts. This one, on 183 making a turn at Wokingham Road, seems to have come a cropper!
These Burlingham bodied Sunbeams were only about seven years old at closure, although I think some electrical parts from older trolleys went into some of them. A few had their lives extended by a couple of years by being moved north to Tees-side for further operation there.
Town centre area roadworks in the final days only served to complicate matters.
photo being re-instated
Seen at the other end, a lane for trolleybuses only was specially created and an official MOT style NO ENTRY 'Except For Trolleybuses'sign was erected. I'll bet that this unique sign was spirited away and saved afterwards - come to think of it, it is surely the one currently erected on the back straight at Sandtoft??
....at Mill Lane Depot the end draws near
Trolleybuses 174 and 181 were later preserved and sometimes operate at Sandtoft today.
No.144, the last one approaches.
What I called the chap who ran in front above and this motorcyclist at the time does not bear printing here, but now when I see the images (they had never been printed before) I regard them as part of the excitement and sadness of the scene.
Yes....... after 32 years it really was all over.
04.08.1934 - 27.07.1963
I used some of the proceeds of my first LTE paycheque to get here, in November of 1962. I had heard that the trolleybuses days were to be few then, though in fact, if memory serves me correctly, they had a few months reprieve due to delays in delivery of replacement buses, and survived into summer 1963. The weather was atrocious as can be deduced. The delay enabled me to get there once more before the end when the weather was better but on that day my camera played up and I did not get any decent views.
In 1962 Portsmouth vied with its south-coast near neighbour Bournemouth for the accolade of operating the oldest original and unaltered trolleybuses in the UK, both having fine vehicles still on the road dating from 1935-36. Portsmouth's contingent was a significant number of these fine AEC/English Electric machines unusually bodied by Cravens of Sheffield. This one is seen here turning at the Dockyard gates.
It is indeeed a matter of great regret that the preservation movement was not then too well established, and it was not possible to save one of these, though one of the slightly earlier fleet originals does exist in non-operating condition.
Behind where I was standing,about four hundred yards distant within the docks area, was and still is the permanent dry mooring of Lord Nelson's famous flagship HMS Victory.
The same vehicle is seen here returning to the Dockyard. I think that service numbers for inward journeys were sometimes different here to those used for outward.
For post-war partial fleet renewal a batch of BUT's with Burlingham bodywork was acquired.
No.313, one of the BUT's has survived into preservation and now, over fifty years after it last carried a passenger in its home town, can be seen, superbly restored and occasionally operational at the East Anglia Transport Museum Carlton Colville Lowestoft.
13.05.1933 - 20.04.1969
I first went here on a cheap Sunday steam-hauled rail excursion in September of 1962. The fare was 18/- (90p). These views are all from that day. I did not return for several years by which time the system's days were numbered
Here's two examples of Bournemouth's oldest, a good number of which were still giving good service at 27 years of age. They were Sunbeams of 1935. Fortunately at least three survive today to delight visitors to operational museums.
.....and here's a lower deck interior shot of one. Not readily apparent in the above two shots is that these buses had front and rear entrances/exits and two staircases.
By the most extreme of contrasts here is No.296 (296 LJ) which had probably only been in service for a day or two. Likely the first of a final batch of nine of what had become Bournemouth's modern standard Sunbeam MF2Bs with Weymann bodywork was on the road early in September 1962.This created a remarkable situation whereby an amazing 27 years separated the service entry of the oldest and newest then running. These were the last British built trolleybuses to be ordered and delivered to a UK mainland operator and the only UK mainland such vehicles to ever bear reversed registrations. Fate was cruel to these fine machines which were destined to have a very short life of from ten to less than seven years as the system was all abandoned in the spring of 1969.
A Weymann bodied Sunbeam at rest - this was a second-hand bargain from Brighton Corporation in 1959, from the same batch as Maidstone's No.52 seen further up the page.
A seeemingly identical vehicle at Castle Lane Depot - but this one came from Brighton Hove & District.
The first post-war fleet renewals were twenty-four of these BUT 9641T type which were new in 1950. They carried Weymann bodies with the customary (for Bournemouth) twin entrance/exit and staircase as a trade off for lower seating capacity.
Three of the pre-war Sunbeams were converted to open-top in the 1950s. Unfortunately, during my visit all were off road at Southcote Road depot.
This shot of 296 is actually five or six years later At the Christchurch terminus: Faced from the 1930s with insufficient space for a turning circle in the vicinity, a steel manual turntable was installed in an area behind an old inn in the High Street. This remained in use till the end and here we can see the driver of No.296 in 1967 making a supreme effort to turn his charge around. sometimes the conductor would assist by pulling on the rear platform grabrail. If you go here today the old inn and other buildings behind have long been demolished but the turntable still exists in the ground, now in the parking area in front of some flats. A suitable heritage sign is there to explain its former function.
East & East Coast
02.09.1923 - 23.08.1963
These photos were all taken during a brief stopover in September 1962. On the next occasion I was there, again briefly, the trolleybuses had passed into history and I could not stop long enough to take any detailed interest in the motorbus fleet.
Two batches of outwardly identical Karrier/Sunbeam F4 vehicles were all that remained operational at the time of my visit.
They were new in 1948/9 at which time local licencing offices were still issuing two-letter registrations.
The later batch had some of the first three-letter marks issued in the area. Ipswich only operated trolleybuses until 1950, and its first motor bus which came in that year was given the mark ADX 1.
Not sure of this location but it might be near the depot at Priory Heath which is now home to the Ipswich Transport Museum, I have yet to get there but by all accounts it is well worth a visit.
This was, I think, 1964 or 1965 - the only sign that trolleybuses had once operated in large numbers to and from 'Electric House' was the survival there of one member of the latterly standard fleet acting as a rest and refreshment room for crews. Now, some fifty years later it is pleasing to report that, having been rescued and put aside after it was no longer needed for the above purpose No.105 has recently had completed a full to working order restoration by the Ipswich Transport Museum.
22.07.1931 - 03.10.1970
No. 343 is seen in 1963 at the Wolverhampton terminus of the jointly operated service 29 between the two towns. I think this area has now changed out of all recognition and the West Midlands Metro tram service terminates now somewhere in the vicinity.
Sunbeam F4 No. 863 coasts down to the town centre terminus area.
A few of the Ipswich Sunbeams were acquired by Walsall in 1963. Somehow, compared to the imaginative Ipswich colours they looked rather plain and ordinary in the new operators' mid-blue all over scheme. No opportunity was taken to make a more useful destination display for them.
The innovative manager of Walsall Corporation Transport Mr R. Edgley-Cox was for many years an ardent supporter of the trolleybus and acquired a number of worthy second-hand machines in the 1950s. This former Grimsby Corporation Sunbeam was one of a pair that were altered by lengthening in the Corporation workshops.
One of a pair of 1951 Crossley 'Empires' originally from the Cleethorpes Corporation fleet They had Roe bodies and were acquired when joint Grimsby-Cleethorpes Corporation ceased electric operations in 1960, No. 850 was confined to training duties by the time of my one and only sighting.
Sunbeam F4/Willowbrook 'goldfish bowl' No.862 is at the Mossley Estate terminus.
29.10.1923 - 05.03.1967
Unlike its neighbour Walsall, Wolverhampton Corporation's green & yellow trolleybuses nearly always seemed to me to be, for the most part, exceedingly scruffy in appearance although admittedly I only saw then in their last two or three years.
No. 408,looking uncharacteristically clean and tidy here was one of thirty-two 'utility' bodied Sunbeam/BTH units acquired 1944-46 that were subsequently re-bodied, this one by Park Royal in 1951.
No. 611 was a later Sunbeam/BTH of 1949.
No. 630 was the last of the order for twenty-three, arriving in 1950.
Several trolleybus systems found themselves with mechanically/electrically good chassis during the mid-1950s and early sixties and chose to re-body them, particularly where well worn out 'utility' fitments were concerned. C H Roe offered a standard unit for two-axle chassis that was taken up by several operators, and Wolverhampton treated over thirty in this way. No. 435 was thus dealt with in 1960.
A typical 1963 summer Sunday in the town centre!
.....another with replacement Roe body.
TROLLEYBUSES OPERATED 10.04.1927 - 30.06.1966
Nottingham trolleybuses were to be seen but once, in 1964 and the few views below were all taken at that time
By far the largest contingent of the Nottingham fleet was the batch of
seventy-seven BUT's supplied 1950-52 with Brush 70-seat bodies. Several different electrical equipments were employed and No. 590's was supplied by Metrovick.
Nos. 483-495 were BUT/English Electric vehicles of 1948 with Roe bodies. No.491 is on stand as another like vehicle approaches behind.
True 'utility' trolleybuses were exceedingly rare by the early/mid 1960s. I think Derby had the last ones running, until 1965 but the year before I caught this one soldiering on in Nottingham city centre. It was the last of twenty Karrier's, the latter half of which were supplied with Park Royal bodies.
Another of the BUT's seen here at the end of the large square in front of the city hall. If you stand here today your view will before very long be of one of the super tram sets of the Nottingham Express Tramway rumbling down the gradient.
09.01.1932 - 09.09.1967
Seen at the 'Mitre' junction is No.226, one of the Sunbeam F4/BTH with Willowbrook bodies that dated from 1952-53.
...and here's another.
..and these two have arrived at their outer terminus and await their time to return to the town centre.
The last new trolleybuses acquired were some Sunbeam F4's with Roe bodies that were into stock in 1960.
It has always been to my regret that I first got here just too late to see any of the unusual Daimler CTM4/Metrovick trolleys of 1938. Although they were still to be seen I also, on my two visits 1964-5, was not fortunate to catch sight of one of the 'utilities' which were the last in use in the UK and carried on till 1965.
26.08.1925 - 30.12.1966
Nos. 82-89 were BUT 9612T's with unusual Bond bodywork.
When going to the Manchester area in June of 1963 I had believed that the batch of all-Crossley four wheelers operated by Ashton-under-Lyne had all been withdrawn, so I was pleased to get this one and only shot of No.73 still at work. Sister No.74 was soon in preservation and I think now resides at the Manchester Museum of Transport.
TROLLEYBUSES OPERATED 01.03.1938 - 30.12.1966
When I set out for here by overnight train in June of 1963 my mother warned me that 'it always rains in Manchester, take a mac' . It did and I didn't which reduced the number of photo opportunities. To start with here are three early morning shots from that day.
Wet & windy Piccadilly. Sixty-one of these BUT's were bought in 1955 to replace most pre-war and other old stock. They had sixty-seat bodies supplied by Burlingham.
This one has just left Piccadilly for Audenshaw and appears to have come to grief on the corner. The conductor is busy trying to re-wire it while the wise driver (not his fault of course!) stays in his cab in the dry. I clearly missed a better photo opportunity here and should have positioned myself on the nearside or rear.
I think this must have been a new film for the negative was fogged. Annoying because this appears to be the only shot I got of one of the four-wheel Crossleys. I rode back to Manchester centre on this and on the way, when the rain was at its worst it passed going the other way a rarer bird, namely one of the Crossley Dominion six-wheelers. I looked for it for much of the remains of my time there but never saw it again. We all take no smoking for granted on buses nowadays but at this time it was always allowed on the upper decks. In response to early concerns Manchester was a pioneer in giving health warnings and requesting passengers not to smoke on its buses. I remember that such a notice was on the upper deck front dome of this vehicle.
Bradford Huddersfield Doncaster Rotheram
I first got to here in April of 1963 and my few hours experience of the system was a by-product of my quest to enjoy what turned out to be the penultimate 'outing' at Thornbury Depot of preserved tram No.104 which was allowed to run up and down and give rides using extant old track within the depot area by drawing current from the positive trolleybus wire in situ. All but the last photo here was from that time. I visited on two or three other occasions from 1967-72 but at these times mainly used a cine-camera.
Seen at Hall Ings in April 1963 No.640 was the unusual combination of a pre-war AEC661T chassis mated to a replacement Crossley body. Although here looking fit and strong it was taken out of service later in that year.
Seen at Forster Square,the scene in the mid-1960s of much roadway alteration and re-development (some of which is seemingly already underway) which was to have a significant effect on trolleybus services that ran in the vicinity, 757 was a 59-seater Weymann bodied BUT 9611T of 1951. It lasted in service for almost twenty years and was never to receive a new body.
No.743 was another BUT 9611T, dating from ****, this time with a Roe 58-seater body. It was withdrawn from service in 1964.
No.716 was a Karrier W delivered new in 1945 with a Park Royal 'utility' body. This was replaced by the fitment shown, built by East Lancashire Coachbuilders in 1959. Withdrawal from service came in 1970.
The above four views are of vehicles from the city's home grown fleet, however it is well known that Bradford kept faith with the trolleybus longer than all others, in fact becoming the last operator in the British Isles in March of 1972. When trolleybus operation elsewhere in the country was being wound down in the fifties and early sixties Bradford wisely took advantage of no doubt bargain prices, acquiring a large number of second hand vehicles to augment and update its own fleet. In many though not all cases it subsequently invested in new bodywork, a practice that continued until 1963. Here's just a few examples..............
No.799 was acquired with others from the St. Helens Corporation fleet when it ceased operation in 1958. It was a BUT 9611T with East Lancashire Coachbuilders rear entrance body that was not replaced and it lasted in its new home till about 1966. Interestingly it has survived into preservation and again bears the original red & cream St. Helens livery. It was running at Sandtoft when I was there in the early eighties but as far as I know is not now operational.
No.779 was based on one of ten chassis acquired in 1953 from Llanelli & District (South Wales). Photographs of these with L&D in original condition show the utility bodywork to have been in a very poor state. Some of them were cannibalised for spares but a number including 779 lived on with new East Lancashire bodywork fitted in the mid-1950s. Although no doubt still in good order withdrawal came in 1966 as the system shrank.
In 1959 the Hastings Tramways (Maidstone & District) system closed and a number of two types of Sunbeam was acquired. The oldest were these Park Royal bodied W's dating from 1946, but they were not re-bodied, lasting in Bradford only till the end of 1963.
No.773 came in 1953 from the Notts & Derby system.This largely interurban operation yielded its complete fleet of 32 vehcles at closure to Bradford.This was a BUT 6611T of 1949, and being only four years old at acquisition the original Weymann bodywork was retained. It lasted until 1967. One of this batch is preserved, recently being acquired by Sandtoft though not in working condition Wise advice might be to 'watch this space'.
No.594 was another ex-Notts & Derby acquisition that was re-bodied by East Lancashire in about 1957. Its conventional rear-entrance configuration included electric platform doors. Its chassis was an AEC661T of 1941 and it lasted in this modernised form until 1966. Some of its companions ran on until 1968 and were the last trolleybuses of this make operational in the UK and possibly the world.
Not many trolleybuses had three owners! No.833, seen at Foster Square was a BUT 9611T of 1949 new to Darlington Corporation. Doncaster acquired it in the late 1950s passing it to Bradford in 1960 where it received the new front entrance/staircase body shown two years later. It was taken out of service in 1971.
When my camera caught No. 844 nine years beforehand I could hardly have envisaged that it would later gain lasting fame by being both Bradford's and the UK's last trolleybus in March of 1972. One of four ex-Mexborough & Swinton single deckers acquired as chassis only in 1961 which were rebodied in 1962/3. Other chassis were bought and broken up for spares. It survives in preservation today and, for the fortieth anniversary, received a fine re-paint including its bold signwritten 'Last Trolleybus' wording. It was operational at Sandtoft earlier in 2012.
01.10.1938 - 01.10.1966
Newcastle renewed its whole large trolleybus fleet in the immediate post-war years. Between 1948 and 1950 it took in ninety-five BUT 9641T's like the above. If No.492 looks familiar it is because these vehicles were in most respects faithful copies of the London Q1 class. The first batch of twenty at least even had identical two-piece destination indicators of the London pattern.
No. 624 was one of the last order of fifty delivered 1950. See that on these the destination displays are more suited to the operators specific requirements.
The grimy and neglected façade of the Central Station is here behind No.498, the last of the first batch. Visitors to the city nowadays will see the building, and indeed much more in the vicinity much cleaned up and modernised.
No. 572 was a BUT 9611T two-axle type. The body here is by Northern Coachbuilders which factory was actually in Newcastle so local industry was being supported.
.......and No.525 has a larger 70-seat version, but this time on a Sunbeam S7 chassis of 1948.
SOUTH SHIELDS CORPORATION
12.10.1936 - 29.04.1964
This was a case of foolishly not staying long enough to see much of the somewhat depleted system that existed in 1963. I set myself a too ambitious target to visit too many places in one day. I only managed a small number of shots of which these two were the best.
TEES-SIDE RAILLESS TRACTION BOARD
08.11.1919 - 04.04.1971
Scotland Wales & Northern Ireland
Some of the best views from two visits, 1966 and 1967, the latter on the last day of operation.
TB45 was BUT 9613T/GEC with Crossley body built 1957.
TB 65 has come to grief and its driver is putting things right. When driving a trolleybus you have two roads to watch, that on the ground and that up in the air so it was inevitable that the latter sometimes created problems.
The last UK single-deckers were in Glasgow which had 21 BUT RETB1.TBS19 (above) and TBS17 (below) had Burlingham 50 seat bodies and were new in 1958.
TB81 differed from TB45 (top) only in respect of its electrical equipment, it being in this case by Metrovick.
Glasgow also had some London Q1 copies. TBS8 was a BUT 9641T powered by English Electric.
....as was TBS23.
...and TBS4. The chassis of all three of these were constructed by AEC
In 1966 some services had already ceased and different types of rolling stock withdrawn. Above was TG10. TG6-20 were Sunbeam F4A's with English Electric equipment. TG10 had clearly run its last here and none of the others were seen on the road.
TG2 & TG1, also withdrawn here were also Sunbeam F4A of 1953, but were two of only five trolleybuses ever bodied by Alexander.
TBS21 was numerically the last of the single-deckers. It is seen here on the last night operating an enthusiasts tour. It was set to be preserved.
Not sure if this and the shot below are of the same vehicle but clearly some crew members felt in a celebratory mood as the services come to a close.
The last trolleybus arrives.
I only made one visit to the Welsh capital, shortly before electric traction came to an end. I took a cine-camera loaded with cheap Russian film that yielded no usable results and, concentrating on using this managed to get only a very small number of still shots which are shown here
Again, a one-off visit, at Easter 1966. This was thankfully before 'The Troubles' and, although the weather was not too kind, I was able over a couple of days to sample what little was left of the once extensive system which finally closed a couple of years later, in 1968.