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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Electric Buses - The Previous Generation

With the ever urgent trends pointing to all electric powered vehicles taking over our roads - it is worth remembering the previous generation of electric buses which became a familiar feature of urban (and interurban) public transport up to the 1960s. The last trolleybus system in the UK was that of Bradford whose impeccable blue and pale cream double deckers enhanced the communities they served. Similarly towns such as Huddersfield, South Shields, Bournemouth and Reading operated immaculate (for the most part) fleets of trolleybuses to varying styles - always distinctive and identified with their host locations. London had Britain's largest trolleybus system which originated in replacement (and new) services of the London United Tramways Company before becoming part of the capital's consolidated transport operation (London Transport). This would in turn give way to all bus services in the postwar era. A sizeable number of London's trolleybuses would gain second lives operating in of all places, Spain.

The optimum location today to see remnants of these once ubiquitous urban transport vehicles is at the Sandtoft museum which uniquely focusses on the trolleybus and maintains a 'running line' on which many of its large collection get to show off their attributes. The East Anglian Transport Museum close to Lowestoft in addition to running trams also has a working circuit for its trolleybus collection, whilst the Black Country Museum similarly highlights trolleybus operation. The Beamish Museum has plans to create a trolleybus service for expansion of its site - but this is yet to emerge.

All photos taken at the Sandtoft Museum by John Woodman

Built (at least the bodywork) in Blackpool by Burlingham. One of the large order placed by Manchester during the 1950s. A Bournemouth example is caught reflected in the driver's windscreen. Below : the side profile of a pre-war Bournemouth trolleybus in that operator's distinctive livery of the period.

Below : A restored example of South Shields Corporation traverses the Sandtoft circuit.

Below : two late withdrawals from the longer lasting Bradford system await their turn in the workshop.


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