A Treasury of Trolleybuses
Trolleybuses were an integral part of many towns and cities for many years. Quite rightly, there are still a large number of enthusiasts who miss them greatly. Let's go for a little journey.
Let's start with the system closest to me. Brighton Corporation were the last municipal in England to introduce Trolleybuses to the streets when 44 AEC661Ts entered service just before the outbreak of WW2. These Weymann bodied vehicles served until the end of the system in 1961.
Single deck Trolleybuses were less common, but Mexborough & Swinton had a post war fleet of single deckers all with centre entrance bodied. This Brush bodied Sunbeam seated 35 and is typical of the fleet and a very attractive vehicle.
Until 1950 Ipswich had only trolleybuses and became the last operator to introduce motor buses. This magnificent Ransomes with a Massey body entered the fleet in 1940. The last Trolleybuses ran in the town in 1963.
Another South coast municipal with a sizeable fleet was Portsmouth. There was a large fleet of Craven bodied AEC661Ts that were wonderful looking buses. They served the city well & survived until the 1963 closure of the ststem.
There are few vehicles more impressive than a three axle trolleybus & the Huddersfield system had a large fleet of these quite stunning vehicles. This East Lancs bodied BUT dates from 1956 & still had many years of life left when the system closed in 1968.
One of the Manchester area municipals to use trolleybuses was Ashton Under Lyne. This BUT had a body by Bond which is a very attractive body by a low volume producer. They looked very smart in the blue livery. This vehicle also dated from 1956.
Belfast had the only Trolleybuses on the Emerald Isle and was another user of impressive six wheelers. This magnificent Guy BTX had locally built bodywork by Harkness, who bodied virtually the whole fleet in the early post war years. Belfast disposed of its Trolleybuses in 1968.
Southend was one of the earliest undertakings to do away with its Trolleybus system when it closed its system in 1954. This AEC had a Strachans body & had been new in 1939. It is seen here very near the end of its working life.
Bournemouth was the last company to place new Trolleybuses into service when it introduced these Weymann bodied Sunbeams in 1962. Surely such vehicles could have been modified for OMO & who knows what may have happened if that was the case?. Sadly, it was not to be & these superb vehicles only saw six to seven yers service. The system closed in 1969.
Hastings Tramways had a fair sized system that stretched as far West as Cooden Beach. They came under full control of Maidstone & District in 1957 & became one of a very few Trolleybus systems operated by the BET. Maidstone & District very quickly dispensed with its Trolleybuses & replaced them with some of the very first Atlanteans in 1959.
Another municipal to use single deck trolleybuses was Rotherham. But, these were quite magnificent six wheeled Daimlers with centre entrance bodies. They were most impressive & looked very long & lithe. They were rebodied as double deckers, but I have chosen one in its original incarnation.
This quite magnificent Crossley bodied Crossley was in the Manchester fleet & again shows just how impressive a six wheeled trolleybus is. Who wouldn't want to take a ride on this today? The Manchester Trolleybuses last ran in 1966.
Reading were another undertaking to place Trolleybuses into service quite late. These Burlingham bodied Sunbeams entered service as late as 1961 and were withdrawn when the system closed in 1968, though some saw further service. This example is seen having a bad day in Reading & looking decidedly unwell.
A Trolleybus could have an interesting life. This Sunbeam started life in 1945 with Southend Corporation, it was sold to Doncaster in 1954 & its utility body was replaced with the handsome Roe body seen here. The system closed in 1963, but that was not the end, these bodies were removed from the chassism converted to half cab & mounted on new motorbus chassis.
It was unusual for a Tilling company to have Trolleybuses, but Brighton Hove & District had eight 1939 AECs with Weymann body. They were stored during the war & were used on the 44 which was BH&Ds only trolleybus route, The service changed to motor buses in 1959.
No look at Trolleybuses would be complete without a visit to Walsall, where we find one of their Willowbrook bodied Sunbeams. These vehicles had been the first 30ft two axle vehicles to operate in the UK. The system passed to WMPTE, who very quickly closed the system. I'm sure Walsall would have kept them longer had it not been for the PTE.
Hull had a sizeable system as well & this Sunbeam carries a Roe utility body. Hull went on to introduce the Coronation vehicles which could very easily have been OMO . It was not to be and the system closed in 1964.
Bodywork by Northern Coachbuilders was not very common in the South but Maidstone Corporation had examples mounted on Sunbeam chassis. The Ginger & cream livery was unusual but suited these vehicles very well. Maidstone dispensed with its Trolleybuses in 1967.
Cardiff was another operator of the big six wheeler, in this case an East Lancs bodied BUT. Cardiff had a large system & a most impressive fleet. They hung on to theirs longer than most, closing the system in 1970.
Grimsby Cleethorpes had a small system which included this NCB bodied BUT. The vehicles passed to Walsall, who lengthened the vehicles to 30ft & converted them to forward entrance, I think they looked just fine in their original form.
Three for the price of one here in Glasgow. This undertaking became the last in the British Isles to introduce Trolleybuses & built up an impressive fleet, the Crossley bodied BUTs being particularly attractive. They never got to enjoy a full working life as tha system closed in 1967.
At one time London had the largest Trolleybus system in this Country & all magnificent six wheelers. This AEC664T is a perfect example of how such a vehicle should look. The London Trolleybuses last ran in 1962.
Newcastle took delivery of these Metro Cammell bodied BUTs which were just about identical to the London Q1s. The bright Newcastle livery suited them very well & many people mourned their passing when Newcastle closed the system in 1966.
This superb vehicle is in the Nottingham fleet & its Brush body suits the traditional Nottingham livery well. This undertaking had both four & six wheelers & always looked well presented. This system was another 1966 closure.
Derby was another system that took great pride in its vehicles as shown here by this Willowbrook bodied Sunbeam. It is beautifully presented, as have most of the vehicles in this gallery been. Thankfully one of these still survives.
We can only end our journey in Bradford where this East Lancs bodied Karrier has just completed the very last journey of a Trolleybus in normal public service in the country. There were farewell tours the following day, but this is the vehicle that ended it all , the year, 1972.
It was a sad day in March 1972 when the final Trolleybuses ran.

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