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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Exports to Moscow

Hard as it may seem today whilst the English Electric Company were busy delivering new double deck trams to Blackpool in 1935 they were also constructing new trolleybuses for Moscow. The Soviet Union and its various apparatchiks needed to prove the superiority of the communist system with progress across many fronts, not the least of which was the showcase Moscow Metro and its urban transport system.

Russia's market had been only a modest success for UK tram builders with the delivery of a fleet of single deck cars to St Petersburg (Leningrad) in the pre-revolutionary era built by the Brush Company in Loughborough. But this was a singular achievement. An order was received by a no doubt startled sales team in Preston for a sample double deck and single deck trolleybus to operate on the Moscow system in the mid-1930s. The resulting very smart vehicles in light blue and cream livery were featured in English Electric's brochures in 1936 alongside the prototype new double deck bus for Blackpool Corporation. The latter went on to become number 120 in the Blackpool fleet but was found to have various design drawbacks. Local coachbuilding firm HV Burlingham would go on to improve and refine the English Electric streamline centre entrance design attracting successive bus fleet orders thereafter from Blackpool Corporation.

The Moscow trolleybus prototypes were put through their paces and then used as models for a small series of similar vehicles built by a local equivalent of Burlingham in Russia! One principal route was assigned to the double deck vehicles which were unique in the Soviet Union - as this English practise did not catch on.

Above : the lower deck of a Preston built Moscow trolleybus in 1936. Note the smart jazzy moquette seats with trimmed leather contrasting with the plain ceiling panels.

The Red Star symbol adorns the side panel of this exemplary export of English Electric to the capital of the Soviet Union. Note the roof lights at the front and what seem to be platform doors. Special windscreen wipers are fitted to deal with the harsh winter weather. Built in Preston for service in Moscow - quite a coup at the time. Below : the single deck version with dual doors and similar roof lights at the front. The same special windscreen wiper fittings are evident on the driver's windscreen. The English Electric motif is just discernible centrally under the windscreen.

In the same time on Strand Road in Preston the company's bodybuilders and design team were at work interpreting a quite dramatic streamline centre entrance bus intended as the forerunner for a new fleet order anticipated from Blackpool in 1936. This heavily touched up photograph in English Electric's sales brochure of the time gives a clear side profile of the 48 seat prototype design placed in the commercial vehicle exhibition in London that year.

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