• John Woodman

Preston to Moscow - 1935

John Woodman


Among the more exotic bus contracts during the 1930s was the supply of a sample double deck and single deck trolleybus to Moscow's transport operator at the time. This was of course by way of a trial, naturally encourage by Government trade and financing departments. These were very much one-offs but so enamoured was a member of Stalin's 'politburo' - a certain Mr Kruschev, that the Russian authorities were empowered to build a small fleet of very similar double deck trolleybuses for a dedicated route in the capital. These duly appeared before WW2 and were more or less unique in the Soviet Union surviving into the early 1950s. Examples of the actual Preston built models from EE customer brochures of the time (courtesy of the TMS Library Collection) :

Below : a glimpse inside the lower deck of the trolleybus with right hand facing rear platform and stairs (naturally).


Below the profile of the Moscow 'demonstrator' with left hand driver position hence no opening door on the right hand side. How the ridership fared in Russia's extreme cold weather conditions with an open rear platform is one for the books.

Below : the single deck trolleybus 'demonstrator' seemingly with doors at both passenger exit and entrance points.

Several decades previously Brush Engineering had received a substantial order for single deck two axle all enclosed trams from St Petersburg (in Czarist days). These soldiered on into the 1940s. English Electric, in addition to development of its streamline cars for Blackpool and other like minded UK tramway operators, was also engaged in the design and supply of new trams for the British owned Calcutta Electric Tramways - all single deck with some of centre entrance design; and a prototype double deck tram for Bombay. Sadly perhaps, the enthusiasm of Sergei Kruschev was not shared by a certain Josef Stalin or his colleagues in Moscow, and the solitary trolleybus route would remain very much an isolated, if eccentric, foray into double deck operation in Moscow (and the USSR). English Electric also managed to secure contracts for supply of trams to two systems in newly established Poland during the late 1920s - again backed by trade financing credits of the UK Government.

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