Photo © Alan R Hall. Please do not re-post without permission.
Walsall 872, XDH72, was the highest numbered trolleybus in the Walsall fleet, their last new trolley to enter service (14 October 1956) and the last trolleybus of all to operate on the streets of Walsall.
This photograph, taken on a hot and sunny day - everything that could open was open - shows 872 in Bloxwich High Street whilst operating a 30 Circular; it has come from Walsall via Leamore and will return via Blakenhall.
Two batches of these Sunbeam F4As with Willowbrook H36/34RD bodywork were purchased, the first (851-865) entering service between November 1954 and June 1955 and the second (866-872) between the June and October of 1956. Apart from one for Belfast, these were the only 30' long F4As to be built and special permission had to be obtained in order to operate them as they were the first 30' 2-axle trolleybuses to be built. Known to the crews as 'Liners' or, more commonly, as 'Goldfish Bowls' these impressive trolleys gave excellent service until the end of the system although, towards the end, most were looking in need of some tlc.
866 of the second batch was converted to front entrance as late as June 1969, just four months before the West Midlands PTE became the only PTE to operate trolleybuses when took over on 1 October 1969. Bournemouth 300 had been on loan between January and August of 1969 during which time it was fitted with a small auxiliary diesel engine positioned under the rear staircase; the intention, under serious consideration as late as that, was to purchase 38 trolleys from Bournemouth in connection with five route extensions for which plans were in hand. If the purchase had gone ahead, their front entrances would have been widened and their rear platforms and staircases removed so that auxiliary engines could be fitted, making them bi-modal.
Although construction work on the M6 Motorway had caused the abandonment of the jointly-operated service 29 to Wolverhampton on 31 October 1965 and all Sunday trolleybus operation had ceased from 10 March 1968, it can be seen that the Corporation, under its visionary General Manager Ronald Edgeley Cox, still had plans for future trolleybus operation in the town. That all ceased with its acquisition by the PTE and, less than a year later, he end came with normal service ending on Friday 2 October 1970. The following morning a special service was operated between the Bus Station and Bloxwich using one from each surviving class of vehicle. At the end of the day the final parade of trolleybuses, 862, 864 and finally 872 driven by Mr Edgeley Cox himself, brought the curtain down on almost forty years of trolleybus operation in the town. Luckily 862, 864 and 872 have all been preserved, 862 at the Black Country Living Museum and 864 and 872 at Sandtoft although the two at Sandtoft aren't normally on display.
Photo taken by Alan Hall, c.1969, High Street, Bloxwich
©1969-2021 Alan R Hall All Rights Reserved.
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