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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Electric Buses - Part One

Well before Blackpool Transport's present management bought into the importance of replacing diesel with electric power (on the buses) - many British towns and cities were operating electric buses with few if any problems. Unseen forces however brought about the demise of the 'trolleybus' as we knew it in favour of the diesel powered vehicle. Bradford was the last UK city to operate trolleybuses but from time to time trials have taken place through industry sponsorship to try and stimulate a return of trolleybuses to our streets. In fact electric trams got there first with 'light rail' systems opening in Newcastle, Sheffield, Croydon, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Birmingham/Wolverhampton, Manchester, whilst the 'electric bus' is set to play catchup starting with of all places - Blackpool.

A peek at the colourful electric buses of our parents and grandparents time :

Below : Nearly made it. A testbed trolleybus sponsored by UK industry - but like the 'tilting train' of BR days, failed to catch on.

Two superannuated Bradford trolleybuses keeping vigil at the UK's only museum dedicated to this transport mode - at Sandtoft.

Below : A smart municipal showpiece of a pre-war Bournemouth trolleybus with striking livery and omitting all advertising.

Nottingham's trolleybuses were naturally in dark green and cream colours per this example kept at Sandtoft. Like Lytham St Annes, South Shields opted for light blue as its principal fleet livery in the 1930s and 40s. A marvellously restored example (204) in service at Sandtoft, being overtaken by Nottingham Corporation 506.

By way of contrast Maidstone's municipal trolleybuses came in a noteworthy light tan flavour : Number 72 of that system, missing its lower front panel, but boasting a Robertson's 'golliwog' advertisment further up. (Something no doubt will be done to correct the motif in today's excessively socially sensitive world).

All Images : John Woodman

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