Old Bus Photos

Greyhound – Guy Arab UF – GVD 43 – 43

GVD 43_lr
Copyright Ian Wild

T D Alexander (Greyhound) Sheffield and Arbroath
Guy Arab UF
Alexander C41C

This coach was one of a batch of ten new to Central SMT in this case as their fleet number K43. Bob Alexander liked rugged reliability and from my conversations with the fitter at Greyhound, this vehicle fitted the bill being quoted as the most reliable vehicle in the fleet! It must have been a long drive between Sheffield and Arbroath in those mainly pre-motorway days. The coach is seen on 25 May 1968 amongst the typical junk in the depot yard at Surbiton Street in Sheffield. How I wish I had recorded (and kept) details of the wondrous collection of rolling stock to be seen there.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

29/06/12 – 11:27

Picking up a thread that has come and gone along the way. Alexander used to build a lot of vehicles either for, or to the designs of, other builders – particularly Leyland and Weymann. They had a coach which, fitted on the Royal Tiger, had a "a lot of" Leyland in it. Looking at this vehicle, it seems to have "a lot of" Weymann Fanfare in it – except that it pre-dates the Fanfare by some four years!

David Oldfield

30/06/12 – 05:31

Was Central SMT much of a coach operator? I’ve never tended to think of them as such. I believe these vehicles had bus type folding doors on the centre entrance. One of them found it’s way to Green Bus of Rugeley, Staffs and couldn’t have been any use at all for one man operation, the seating looks quite deep and comfortable though. Being a UF rather than an LUF, I imagine it would have been quite solid and rugged!

Chris Barker

30/06/12 – 05:32

Isn’t this the same body that "had a lot of" Leyland in it? It’s known as the Coronation style.

Peter Williamson

30/06/12 – 10:13

That’s what I thought Peter, but the "Fanfare" characteristics had only just dawned on me. Because I’m not over familiar with the Coronation, I couldn’t remember whether it had the Dutch lantern type windscreen of the Leyland coach.

David Oldfield

30/06/12 – 10:14

Like many of its underfloor contemporaries, it was over-engineered for British use, with a weight approaching, if not exceeding, at times, that of a double-decker, hence the lightweight LUF later. I think that all manufacturers subsequently produced lightweight versions, apart from Daimler. BMMO were definitely the front-runners in this sphere after the war.

Chris Hebbron

30/06/12 – 17:50

I think this view http://www.flickr.com/  gives a more Leyland-like impression, but it is the same body.
I was a big fan of the Fanfare, and coincidentally my favourites of all were Northern General’s on Guy Arab LUF chassis.

Peter Williamson

30/06/12 – 17:51

Central SMT always had a few coaches, but mostly operated bus services in the Clyde Valley and along the north bank of the Clyde west of Glasgow.
They were the main profit making branch of the Scottish Bus Group in the post-war period and subsidised most of the other branches. They left coach operating to Alexander Bluebird, Western SMT and Eastern Scottish.

Jim Hepburn

01/07/12 – 08:23

Yes, Peter, add Fanfares to my list of favourites. I didn’t have much to do with the many Reliances but knew the Sheffield JOC Leopards very well.

David Oldfield

01/07/12 – 08:24

Central S.M.T. also had a fleet of "bald headed" Y type Albion Vikings which were quickly sold on to Highland. The Vikings were then replaced by Bedfords.
Oh to go back to Surbiton Street and see the Beverley Bar Guys and Leyland PD1’s. Also a fleet of ex Gateshead and District PD2’s. Even earlier they had a number of Bristol L types and possible older JO’s
Later they bought deckers from Aberdeen Corporation, Regent III’s and Regent V’s.

Stephen Bloomfield

01/07/12 – 08:25

As Chris says, most of the major manufacturers over engineered their early underfloor-engined models and had to introduce lighter models two or three years later – in some cases overreacting and going too far the other way. However, it seems to me that good old Bristol/ECW seemed to get it right from the start with their LS (Light Saloon). Just as with the BMMO’s, both manufacturers built what the operator wanted because the manufacturer and operator were closely related, and there was much more feedback flowing between them.

John Stringer

02/07/12 – 07:21

Like several of the other small fleets, Greyhound seems to have had a mixed fleet. It’s great for the observers, but I can imagine what it must have been like for the engineering stores people. It’s hardly surprising that so many fleets are standardised so heavily.
There’s comment above about the Leyland and Weymann similarities. I must say it looks rather more Weymann Fanfare than Leyland to me.

Pete Davies

02/07/12 – 18:00

I’m sure (or am I ?) that this particular coach GVD 43 used to operate on a works contract in and out of Halifax sometime during the mid to late 1960’s, but painted in a black and cream livery. Did it ever belong to Pemberton’s of Upton ? They did a works service to the Meredith & Drew biscuit factory from its home territory, later taken over (on a larger scale) by Halifax J.O.C.

John Stringer

03/07/12 – 07:19

Green Bus of Rugeley (Staffs) had identical machines GVD 41 and 44. I was lucky enough to ride on GVD 41 on their stage service from Stafford to Uttoxeter on one occasion, so yes they were used on bus work. The view from the front seat made a pleasant change, and the vehicle was an interesting contrast to the North Western Leopard/Alexander Y type which had taken me from Manchester LMS to Stafford!

Neville Mercer

03/07/12 – 07:22

So, were Pemberton’s the firm alluded to in Geoffrey Hilditch’s "biography" as having supplied a coach with " . . .a broken accelerator spring. A piece of string was secured to the pedal, and the free end given to the young lady sitting right behind the driver who was asked to provide the necessary tension . . ."? – which led, amongst other issues, to the contract being re-allocated to Calderdale JOC. I must admit that, given postings in another thread,and the timings, whether "GH’s" comments might have been aimed at Hebble – but seemingly not.

Philip Rushworth

04/07/12 – 05:38

Talking about Pembertons of Upton reminds me that when I drove for Stanley Gath at Dewsbury every year a large private hire job was for Thornhill Working Mens Club. This involved nearly all the fleet plus several other coaches hired in. On one occasion the destination was the inevitable Blackpool and one of the coaches was an elderly Bedford of Pembertons and as we loaded up at the club each coach took on pop and crisps for the children. When the driver of the Pemberton coach opened up his boot lid this fell off. Stanley himself was supervising loadings and he sent the driver and the coach back to his garage muttering that he would not use them again.

Philip Carlton

GVD 43_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

27/12/14 – 05:20

My dad went to Sheffield in late 1947 to re-letter Greyhound buses before they could be nationalised – he had a painters/sign writing business in Monifieth near Dundee, would anyone know the story behind this?

Jim Clark

06/01/15 – 17:30

Answer for Jim Clarke. I am the daughter of Geoff Alexander, his father was Thomas Daly Alexander the owner of Greyhound Coaches of Sheffield and Arbroath…I asked mum but she doesn’t know anything about that time as it was before she was married. But she remembers a house in Broughty Ferry that Thomas had and behind it they did sign writing, was that your dad?

Geoffs Daughter

22/02/15 – 07:38

Re Greyhound I distinctly remember it was winter 1947 he went to Sheffield as my mum was worried due to the bad winter of 47 – it was something to do with the nationalisation of coach services and to keep new coaches out of the hands of the government – I recall a holiday when we went all round England in the mid 50’s when we went down Snake Pass as Dad said this was the road he went to Sheffield in the snow of ’47 – my Grandad was also a signwriter and he probably stayed back in Monifieth to carry out more work to coaches there. This may be a mystery that will never be solved.

Jim Clark


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Midland Red – BMMO C5 – 780 GHA – 4780

Midland Red - BMMO C5 - 780 GHA - 4780
Copyright Nigel Edwards

Midland Red (Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Co)

A memorable spring day in in 1960, after driving for Midland Red for a couple of years, I was delivering a motor caravan to London at a steady 60 on the new M1 and looking in the mirror I saw what turned out to be a new C5 – Motorway Express – looming towards me and finally going past at 85+ and disappearing in a flash. The very interesting book by Steve Richards on these vehicles made note of the extensive work done by Dunlop to actually design, and the difficulty of producing, a tyre that would withstand the stress of these high speeds by a truly awesome turbocharged coach well ahead of it’s time. Still, today I would argue Roger Burdett’s beautifully restored C5 -780 GHA- is a fine example of a classic.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Nigel Edwards

26/06/12 – 14:18

The vehicles this operator built were always
(a) different
(b) well ahead of their time.
It was a sad day when "outside" suppliers had to be used.
Thank you for sharing.

Pete Davies

26/06/12 – 17:51

Sadly, I never experienced one of these – but I did have the Corgi toy.

David Oldfield

27/06/12 – 07:17

So did I, David, but the special Dunlop tyres couldn’t cope with Axminster carpet, but were great on lino!

Paul Haywood

27/06/12 – 10:22

…..but lino did share certain (chemical) characteristics with the surface of the M1.

David Oldfield

27/06/12 – 13:33

There were no speed limits on motorways in the early days and it’s true that these and a few other modern coaches were capable of 90mph. With soft-shoulders, no central crash barrier and inadequate tyre technology, several accidents/near-misses occurred, which swiftly caused safety features and speed limits to be introduced. I think it was 80mph to start with, coming down to 70 later, to save fuel at the start of fuel crises that bedevilled countries in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Chris Hebbron

28/06/12 – 07:43

The juxtaposition of this posting and the previous one, about trolley buses, is particularly noteworthy because they are flip sides of the same coin: the then irresistible dominance of the internal combustion engine. Railways were unfashionable before Beeching, being viewed as 19th century technology, (there was even a Railway Conversion League), whereas Britain’s ‘new motorways’ were seen as an exciting foretaste of new travel possibilities. The C5 was a supreme example of this fashion, along with the Ribble/Standerwick/Scout Atlantean coaches. I never travelled on one, but, like Nigel, I remember being overtaken by one on the M1 at great speed.
The fashion of the period did little for trolleys. Despite the advantages in performance and silence so cherished by my friend John Whitaker and others, their need for dedicated infrastructure, extra specialist maintenance skills, additional equipment and inventory, gave the motor bus – cheaper, more flexible and by the 1950’s very reliable – an appeal that was just far more in keeping with the climate of the times.
As Chris remarks, the generally high motorway speeds of the time did quickly become of concern, (not only coaches – much of the danger was caused not only by the points Chris makes but also by large speed differentials between vehicles). That led to the introduction of the 70 mph limit, (sorry, Chris, but it was never 80; 50 temporarily during the 1973/4 fuel crisis, but always 70 otherwise). In turn, that undermined the justification for ‘ton up’ coaches. Nevertheless. I still have happy memories of getting a Maidstone & District AEC Reliance up to 70 mph on the Swanley by-pass, and I’m sure all readers will admire the subject of Nigel’s lovely posting. Happy days indeed.

Roy Burke

28/06/12 – 07:44

In my student days in Birmingham, I normally travelled home on the Standerwick service to Lancaster, being overtaken almost every time by the Western SMT coaches which moved over only for vehicles showing blue lights. They were reputed – true or not? – to do the round trip of Glasgow, London, Glasgow in the shift.
Another story of the time related to the prototype CM6T, which was said to have been tested over a measured mile of the then still to open M1, before Smith’s Industries in Basingstoke were contracted to make the speedometers. The beast did 120, apparently, and regularly overtook the train in that glorious section near Watford Gap Services!

Pete Davies

28/06/12 – 14:30

Following on from Pete Davies’s comments regarding the testing of these C5 – and later CM6’s – a recent extract from my May copy of ‘Omnibus’ (the monthly members sheet from BaMMOT) by John Morris, further illustrates the effort that went into testing. I hope John won’t mind me quoting verbatim from his excellent article!
“At Central Works there was also a department known as ‘Development‘ which was jealously guarded from access to strangers visiting the works".
As the name implied any future improvements and new designs were carried out in this area. This included the road testing of the new CM6T London to Birmingham Motorway coaches.
On several occasions two young engineers, accompanied by myself would board a finished vehicle painted in green primer, without interior fittings, loaded with a number of 56Ib weights to form a second floor covering, with a large sofa placed behind the cab area (to provide luxurious comfort for the observers) and off we would go on a 1,000 mile road test. This would involve driving from Birmingham to the start of the M6 near Cannock and then going full pelt up the motorway at speeds of up to 100mph on the clock all the way to Charnock Richards services in Cumbria. I kid you not regarding the speed! Don‘t forget this was in the sixties and traffic on the M6 was very light and we simply stayed in the empty right hand lane all the way! I vividly remember drivers of sports cars probably doing 80mph looking at us open mouthed as this large green machine drifted much faster past them.
At Charnock Richards we would have a pleasant lunch and then back to Birmingham. This trip would be repeated next day after minor adjustments until 1,000 miles had been covered. Once the testing was completed the CM6T would be passed fit for service and handed over to final assembly for ht out and painting.”

Nigel Edwards

28/06/12 – 15:58

I have to say that the CM5T was an absolutely splendid looking machine. The red and black livery, relieved by polished trim was really classy. The windscreen arrangement was rather reminiscent of Dutch coaches of the period. The windows may have been unfashionably small – presumably it was based on the S14/S15 body shell – but it was probably a stronger structure than the panoramic coaches that were starting to appear at the same time. Maybe not strong enough to withstand a collision at over 100mph though.
I never rode on a CM5, but I did once travel from Birmingham to London on a CM6T, and must say that it was the most comfortable, smooth and quiet riding coach I have ever ridden on. The Yorkshire Traction Leopard employed on my return from the capital to Halifax came nowhere near.
I also had the Corgi model (still have, and still in its box). Its suspension was also very smooth, but it lacked the chromed windscreen metalwork that gave the real thing its distinctive appearance. It was also a larger scale than the rest of my Dinky Toy bus collection, so had to be parked well away from the others in Sideboard Street Bus Station before the long journey to Coalplace via Kitchen and Garden Path.

John Stringer

29/06/12 – 07:51

Thank you, Nigel, for your quotation from the newsletter. It confirms that at least some element of the stories circulating in my student days was correct. The run to and from Charnock Richard – it’s near Preston, by the way, not in what the political meddlers like to call Cumbria – would have given a good test of performance in "real" traffic.

Pete Davies

29/06/12 – 07:52

That was the exact route I used to operate with my Dinky Duple Roadmasters and Leyland halfcab deckers but I used to get a fair turn of speed up on the long straight Bannister Way on the route to Under Mumsbed bus station!
I also had the Corgi model but never used it much because I thought it looked too big. Wish I still had it.

Eric Bawden

29/06/12 – 11:16

I remember vividly as a child of about 8 yrs sitting behind the driver of a late to depart out of Nottingham Broadmarsh bus station a Barton’s Yeates bodied Bedford Val and travelling along the A52 which is a single carriageway by Wollaton Park gates at speeds in excess of 70 mph, I thought it was great but my father was quite worried for all the passengers safety as the speed limit was 40 mph !

Roger Broughton

29/06/12 – 11:20

There was another model of the CM5T made by Budgie Toys, and it was more like 1/76th scale, but I must say I never came across one in those halcyon, carefree, childhood model bus operating days – the only Budgie Toys bus I ever had bought was a Routemaster, whose wheels were just slotted onto the ends of the axles and came off every time it went round a corner. Not all they were cracked up to be, Routemasters.

John Stringer

29/06/12 – 17:13

Just on the subject of speedo’s, I joined Armstrong Galley in 1975 an even then all our coaches were fitted with tachographs, this was about two or three years before the legislation making them compulsory came in. As we all know the primary speed register on tachos is displayed in KPH with MPH in much smaller figures, and I well remember one occasion when I was on the M6 and a small boy who was sitting about two seats back got up and came to look over my shoulder, he announced to everyone that we were doing over 110 miles per hour

Ronnie Hoye

30/06/12 – 05:20

We’ve all been there Ronnie. I was once reported by a passenger for doing 60 in a 40 limit. 60kph = 40mph (approx.).

David Oldfield

30/06/12 – 05:21

You’d be surprised at the number of drivers who have been reported to their employers by passengers peering at the speedo’/tacho’ face and mistaking KPH for MPH.

John Stringer

30/06/12 – 05:22

Thanks for that snippet, Ronnie. In case anyone was wondering what the difference in accuracy between a tacho and a speed camera, there was a case in one of the trade magazines about a year before I retired – so about 5 years ago now – where a truck driver had been zapped at about 35mph in a 30 zone, but his tacho said he was doing 28 at that time.
In court, the Magistrate agreed to send both items for test, with the result binding. Driver was cleared and they scrapped the camera!

Pete Davies

01/07/12 – 09:52

The Val was doing 70 mph not kph as it was well before tachos were being fitted.

Roger Broughton

27/09/12 – 07:08

Regarding Chris Hebbron’s comments on speed limits (27/06/12), the 70mph limit came in under Barbara Castle’s regime as Minister of Transport. After a trial period in 1965, it was made permanent in 1966 – there was no intermediate 80mph limit.
The fuel related speed limits were applied in the winter of 1973/4 as a result of the combined effects of the oil shortages following the Yom Kippur War and the Miners’ Strike/3 day week. The maximum speed limit then was 50mph on all roads previously restricted to 70mph, including motorways.
The introduction of the "fuel saving" limit coincided with a massive rise in prices and was widely resented.
Midland Red motorway services were renowned for their high speed and comfort. There were a number of accidents but 90mph on a C5 would have been much less hairy than 60mph on the top deck of a Standerwick "Gay Hostess" Atlantean.

Phil Blinkhorn

26/10/12 – 14:21

On the 14th October 2012 during Wythall’s Midland Red day, I rode on the preserved CM6, 5656. The driver took it along the dual carriageway Wythall bypass and let her go. When I asked how fast was that, he replied ‘Off the clock, mate!’ Not bad for a 47 year old coach!

Tony Martin

26/10/12 – 16:49

BHA 656C_lr

Thought others might like to see the CM6T referred to by Tony Martin. Thankfully the weather didn’t spoil the "Midland Red day", great to see these restored examples at work again.

Nigel Edwards

06/11/12 – 06:40

On the subject of passengers reporting drivers for excess speed I well remember being approached by a male passenger who I had just seen get off one of our Bristol VRs who stated quite vehemently that he intended to report its driver for speeding because sitting in the O/S front seat on the top deck he had for some reason looked down the periscope tube and could see the speedo very clearly (which you could ) and it was reading 80 mph obviously dangerous on the road the bus was using. If only, 50 mph was a good speed for any VR, I pondered on telling him of the kph/mph scales on the speedo but decided to let him make a fool of himself knowing that the driver was able to easily prove his innocence.

Diesel Dave

12/09/14 – 17:40

I agree with Nigel Edwards. In late 1959 I went from B’ham to London with my father, who was running-in a new Austin Cambridge A55 Farina (718 AOG) on the M1, bouncing along merrily at 50 to 60 mph. I was 8 yrs old and vividly remember being rapidly overtaken, and left for dead, by a big red C5MT, which was rock steady – most impressive! I have read that even after the 70 mph speed limit came into force in 1966, the coach timetable from Digbeth to Victoria, still expected the original speed of c.85 mph to be maintained on the M1/M45. Yes, I did go on to become an engineer.

John Mitchell

05/10/14 – 11:02

Very interested in Midland Red C5…actually drove one when I was at Worcester Garage on X72/73 Service.
Also interesting to see that Mr Burdett owns one…he now owns my Tilling-Stevens, GOU 732…ex-Classic Coaches of Wombourne. It’s good to know she’s gone to a good home.
Bedford O.B., MYB 33, is now owned by Stuart Jones, Editor of Bus & Coach Buyer…another good home. Sadly the AEC narrow-bodied PLaxton, EUG???D was not so lucky.

Harry ‘Bob’ Harris

06/10/14 – 13:45

John, Difficult now to comprehend, the specially selected drivers had to be trained in ‘high speed driving techniques’ and never needed to resort to flashing light intimidation – the other motorway drivers (and truck drivers) saw them coming and just pulled over. What a joy to drive these coaches then, compare with today – second lane and lucky to achieve 55mph !!

Nigel Edwards

780 GHA_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

23/10/14 – 16:16

Now in my dotage I have been remembering some of the things when! I drove on the Midland Red late 60s early 70s out of Banbury Garage where we had a couple of C5s an ideal tool for the rural routes around North Oxfordshire, the only alteration to their Motorway work was that 5th gear was blanked off but still they had a good turn of speed in 4th! They were beautifully softly sprung and when my sister was 2 weeks overdue with her first child I would pick her up from Rollright and storm back to where we lived in Bloxham in an attempt to induce her!
Did hear tell of a driver on the Birmingham-London service being passed by a fully freighted Kew Dodge.

Charles Henderson


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Newcastle Corporation – BUT 9641T – LTN 479 – 479

Newcastle Corporation - BUT 9641T - LTN 479 - 479

Newcastle Corporation
BUT 9641T
Metro Cammell H40/30R

Another from the Job lot of photos I bought a while ago this time an atmospheric shot of Newcastle’s Byker Depot in 1948. An impressive line up of 20 new BUT 9641T’s with Metro Cammell H40/30R bodies, they were LTN 479 – LTN 498 fleet numbers 479/98.

LTN 479_cu

Newcastle ordered 70 of this type, and this first batch were identical to London’s Q’s where as the remaining 50 had the standard Newcastle destination indicator layout. I’ve heard it said ‘but not confirmed’ that these vehicles were built for LT but diverted to Newcastle. The first Newcastle trolley buses began to replace the trams in 1935, but because of the war it wasn’t until 1950 that the trams finally disappeared. I think I’m right in saying that Newcastle had the largest trolleybus system outside London, they had 28 routes and a fleet of 204 vehicles, but unlike the trams they never ran south of the Tyne into Gateshead, and as far as I’m aware it was only the routes into Wallsend that ventured beyond the City boundaries. The last one ran in 1966, and in resent years it’s often been said that they should never have got rid of them, but hindsight is an exact science

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

24/06/12 – 15:26

A couple of photographs of some very impressive vehicles. Thank you for posting them.
I knew Noel Hanson who co-authored with Tom Canneaux the book ‘The Trolleybuses of Newcastle upon Tyne’. Noel was a lovely man and he spent a great deal of time and effort in trying to get to the bottom of the events that led to Newcastle receiving LPTB style Q1s. In the Second Edition of the book, published in 1985 by Newcastle City Libraries, the authors added a chapter that covers this story in detail.
In November 1946 Newcastle Corporation placed orders for 50 3-axle trolleybuses with 20 chassis from BUT and 30 from Sunbeam. Metro-Cammell were to body the BUTs. In addition the Corporation had earlier ordered a number of 2-axle trolleybuses too, including 36 Karrier chassis to be bodied by Metro-Cammell. These were delivered after the Q1s as Sunbeam F4s.
Anyway, to cut a long story short in September 1947 Newcastle Corporation was pressing Metro-Cammell to confirm delivery dates of trolleybuses that were on order. Attention focused on expediting delivery of the 36 2-axle vehicles. Representatives of English Electric – who were supplying the electrical equipment and motors – and Metro-Cammell were summoned to Newcastle. English Electric offered to commence delivery of the electrical equipment in the November for the 20 3-axle BUTs. The representative from Metro-Cammell said that vehicle delivery dates were receding but offered delivery of the 20 3-axle BUTs in the early part of 1948 on the basis of the Corporation being prepared to accept the standard LPTB body design rather than the City’s own specified design. The offer was, of course, immediately accepted.
Ronnie is correct that the Wallsend (Park Road) route lay outside the City Boundary but the Gosforth Park, Polwarth Drive, Hollywood Avenue and Grange Estate routes were also beyond The City and County of Newcastle upon Tyne (to use the correct title).

Kevin Hey

24/06/12 – 15:26

These were quality trolleybuses and Newcastle were wise to copy the London Transport body specification. In order of delivery from Metro Cammell, these twenty came before the main London order and a further order after London then went to Glasgow. The Newcastle trolleybuses were the closest in appearance to the London class Q1 whereas Glasgow did insist on their own style indicators. Newcastle did make changes such as indicators and sliding windows with a later order of similar Metro Cammell BUTs which came in 1949/50.

Richard Fieldhouse

24/06/12 – 15:28

One of the reasons that many trolleybus systems were abandoned in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s was the massive amount of town centre re-development that was going on or was planned. The disruption to overhead installations and the level of investment that would have been required to keep pace with the changes to streets and roads would have been prohibitive. Coupled with the relatively cheap price of oil and a lack of environmental awareness (compared to today) led to many operators giving in and closing their systems.
In fairness many of the trolleybus fleets in the early 60’s were fairly elderly but there were exceptions and the Bournemouth dual entrance Sunbeams and Reading forward entrance Burlinghams were thrown away with many years of life left in them. It was a great shame.

Philip Halstead

25/06/12 – 07:52

Sorry about that, Kevin, I completely forgot that Gosforth was also a victim of the abortion that came about with the creation of Tyne and Wear. At the time I lived in the old County Borough of Tynemouth, and we had our own Ambulance service, Fire Brigade and Police Force, but that’s another story, back to Trolleybuses. I can understand that City Centre redevelopment was one of the major factors in the demise of Trolleybus networks, but that seems a bit ironic now when, in Newcastle anyway, many of the buildings that were thrown up ‘sorry’ erected in the 60’s, are now themselves being demolished. On the other hand, if Trolleybuses were still around now the biggest problem would probably be cable theft!

Ronnie Hoye

25/06/12 – 07:53

What a fantastic line up of Newcastle Trolleybuses. When you consider each one would have to be positioned by a towing vehicle I wonder how long it took to get these trolleys lined up for this photo.

Eric Bawden

25/06/12 – 07:54

Philip has indicated some reasons why trolleybus systems were abandoned after the war, but there were others, too. Post-war nationalisation of the power industry ended generation by municipal authorities, part of which went to their trams/trolleybus fleets and was subsidised. Full rates had to be paid thereafter, making trams/trolleybuses less competitive and attractive than hitherto! Then, the electrical infrastructure, usually installed for electric trams, around 1900, was worn out, as were the original trolleybuses built in the 1930’s, all patched up and inadequately maintained during the war.
There never was a surplus of London trolleybuses which were passed on to other operators. ‘The London Trolleybus’ by Ken Blacker states that operators were told by the M of WT that a limited number of trolleybuses were to be produced. LPTB, along with others were asked to put in their bids, but LPTB was told specifically that a maximum of 50 would be their allocation and who would be the chassis, body and electrical suppliers. LPTB quietly told the ministry that it needed 77 to replace the fast collapsing ‘Diddlers’ and war losses, leading to the increased allocation and delivery of the first Q1 in January 1948. There were also orders for the 34 for Glasgow and 20 for Newcastle, and LPTB (by then LTE) generously gave permission for their, primarily, body design, using the same patterns/jigs, to be used for these orders, too, to speed up deliveries. Glasgow did mange to get its own pattern of destination indicators, but internally, both were identical internally to the London ones, save for the Newcastle ones having Newcastle’s seat coverings and polished wood fittings. Newcastle’s were delivered between February and April 1948, with Glasgow’s at much the same time. Glasgow annoyed LTE by using the London ‘T’ logo front and back and had to take them off quickly! They were all about a year late in being delivered for a variety of reason, but gave stirling service over the years. One quirk was the lack of nearside opening cab windows, compared with LPTB’s pre-war counterparts, occasioned by the unavailability of the item.
Glasgow also ordered more (30) trolleybuses to the same body pattern later, but these bodies were fitted to Daimler chassis, giving them a slightly longer front overhang than the Q1 type.
It is true that many systems were extended, then condemned to abandonment within a painfully short period. Portsmouth Corporation, built an urban extension at great cost in 1950/51 (copper was expensive by then), but abandoned the whole system in 1963, with none of the 14 of the remaining 15 vehicles, bought for the extension, moving on for service elsewhere. Housing bombed in the city was rebuilt well outside the city boundary and was served by motor buses.

Chris Hebbron

25/06/12 – 07:55

Aaah, the ‘Gosforths’: what wonderful trolleys these were! This is much more than just pure nostalgia, Ronnie. I was born in Newcastle and grew up in a village just eight miles away and I remember these buses as if it were yesterday. They spent much of their lives on the 31/31A/31B services (hence the nickname, of course) but they frequently strayed onto other routes too. It’s sad that none of Newcastle’s Q1s made it into preservation but I suppose we should at least be very grateful that two members of the fleet did and, of these, 628 is from the second batch, the Q2s, which were probably my all-time favourite trolleys.
From an early age many of my favourite experiences involved a trip by trolleybus, either from the Central Station or Cowen’s Monument on Westgate Road. Annual trips to the pantomime and weekly trips to the Church where my father was organist (hence the long journey) included rides on those wonderful silent leviathans which glided easily and speedily up and down the city streets; by contrast the Corporation motorbuses – which were themselves wonderful too – seemed to strain whilst everything seemed effortless for the trolleys.
As a youngster, a particular treat at Christmas was to visit Santa in Fenwick’s department store in Northumberland Street followed by tea in their Terrace Restaurant with the orchestra playing; a table by the window would ensure a perfect view over the busy street below with its constant procession of buses and trolleybuses. Looking out over the wires, and watching the booms whizzing by, sparked (no pun intended) a fascination in my young mind and ensured a life-long love affair with the trolleybus which, when I reached my teens and early twenties, involved expeditions all over Britain to sample the remaining systems before it was too late. Places like Walsall, Bradford, Glasgow, Teesside etc became like second homes!
When I made my first trip on ‘Coffin’ 501 at Sandtoft after her restoration it was quite emotional – for more than 45 years I had never expected to travel again on a Newcastle trolley; when I eventually make it to Carlton Colville to see and travel on 628 again my life will be complete!
Ah the memories that these wonderful photos have stirred. Thank you for posting them, Ronnie, and apologies to everyone for waxing lyrical and straying rather from the original subject.

Alan Hall

25/06/12 – 10:12

Picking up on a point made by Chris. I could be wrong here and no doubt someone will correct me if I am, but as far as I’m aware the municipally owned undertaking of Newcastle Transport actually made a profit, so in effect they subsidised the rates, however, the all singing all dancing PTE who replaced them, and their successor Nexus have NEVER made a profit.

Ronnie Hoye

26/06/12 – 06:55

May I wax a bit less lyrical about trolleybuses? The Bradford system lasted about 60 years. I believe it ended in a hurry because someone died when a power boom broke off. Before that there was great debate about the state of the cable poles, especially the black bit at the bottom where the doggy area was painted with bitumen (it was said). It was a time when people were anxious to clean towns up- black stonework, worn out industrial buildings, featureless streets: one of the worst visual things was the overhead wires- the mass of electric power lines (often providing street lighting), telephone lines, even radio rediffusion lines – and trolleybus lines with their many supporting poles, switches and tensioning wires. To be rid of these was a step forward. Then there was the mobility problem- apart from redevelopment, temporary roadworks, cable problems, breakdowns, accidents. Instead you got a smart new bus that didn’t look like something out of a black and white film. I recently used a hybrid airport bus in Manchester, and this is probably a part of the future- batteries or motors to give greater mobility, reserved lanes, smart buses. Would we have invested like this in the easy-parking, cheap oil, relatively uncongested sixties?… for a start we hadn’t the technology.


26/06/12 – 08:19

Fair point, Joe, but the loss of those overhead wires gave public transport a lower profile, and that was just one of the many reasons why buses have consistently failed to retain passenger numbers since. The psychologically reassurance of a fixed transport infrastructure has been a well-known factor in justifying the retention (and increasing reintroduction) of tramways, railways and (to a lesser extent) trolleybus systems. Once passengers lost faith in their public transport network, then they were lost forever.

Paul Haywood

26/06/12 – 09:37

I do not agree that trolleybus overhead was, in any way, unsightly! Down to earth Bradfordians were amply able to prioritise such issues.
Further, it is untrue to suggest that the trolley head fracture at Four Lane Ends, and its fatal results, were in any way a factor in the system`s demise, which was well entrenched at the time.
I cannot speak for other systems, but Bradford`s was very efficient under
C. T. Humpidge, and, like Newcastle, did actually contribute to the rates budget for most of the time. It was well loved by Bradfordians, was part of the "city ethos", and its demise was sadly, but reluctantly accepted.
I would also point out that the so called lack of mobility of the trolleybus has proven to be a fallacy.
In Bradford this was the excuse, so that the city could be remodelled, and what a remodelling mess they made of it in the 1960s! The new Forster square, for example, has itself now been totally erased, leaving a pile of rubble, and many fine Victorian buildings have been lost. A more cautious approach incorporating trolleybus retention, would have perhaps put a brake on this madcap destruction. Yet another advantage of the trolleybus is totally forgotten, and that is the longevity of equipment.
You could get a thirty year life from a trolleybus chassis and its equipment, and the bodywork lasted longer anyway, due to the lack of vibration.
We have to move with the times, I know, but, in retrospect, there was something ridiculous in the fashionable trend of speedy abandonment, and there were many instances of wasteful disposal of still usable assets. Newcastle, London, need I go on!!

John Whitaker

26/06/12 – 11:33

As trolleybus systems were almost universally municipal, it follows that they were subject to political pressures, such a city centre re-modelling, widespread in the 60’s.

Chris Hebbron

26/06/12 – 14:09

I agree that the infrastructure required for trolley buses was costly to erect and maintain, and it must be said that motor buses do offer a greater degree of flexibility. That said, from a passenger point of view boarding a trolleybus had one big advantage over bus travel now, you knew exactly where, and which way it was going to go, where as these days some routes seem to alter every other week, and what used to be a fairly straightforward journey from A to B has been altered to such an extent that its become advisable to take a packed lunch.

Ronnie Hoye

26/06/12 – 14:10

Back to my Bradford trolleybus abandonment theme, if I dare!
Cheap and nasty concrete building monstrosities, accompanied by cheap and nasty AEC Regent V buses which were notoriously unpopular with Bradfordians.
What a mess our Civic "Leaders" made of things!
Younger contributors to this site will probably think the 1960s were a time to remember with affection, but us "oldies" remember the real "Golden Days"
Sorry, tongue in cheek, and all that!

John Whitaker

27/06/12 – 07:03

I realise that I sometimes look back to ‘the old days’ through rose-tinted spectacles (for which I apologise) but I do wonder whether Joe has found his way onto the wrong site. It’s called ‘OLD’ Bus Photos after all and yet he seems to be putting forward views which are anathema to most of us who have an interest in, and a love of, old buses. Joe is, of course, perfectly entitled to his views and at liberty to express them wherever he wishes but there are many other websites devoted to the modern buses which he so admires so I wonder why he is bothering with a site like this one; he could, of course, just be playing Devil’s Advocate and may well be sitting back, laughing his cap off at the reaction he has provoked.
It’s true that temporary diversions could cause problems for trolleybuses but their batteries gave them a much greater flexibility than the trams to which many cities are now returning. As regards breakdowns and accidents, it is true that many authorities allowed their vehicles to deteriorate in the months leading up to closure which did lead to breakdowns and often a shortage of serviceable vehicles; as a result many trolleybus turns were covered by motorbuses in the last few weeks of systems such as South Shields and Teesside in my native north-east. Poor South Shields also had particular problems with poor power supply and, in the case of one route, salty air too so that, by the end, trolleys were rarely appearing on their routes and many people didn’t even notice the final transition. On Teesside, where the final extension – the last on any British system – only lasted a few days over three years, the undertaking suffered from the amalgamation of the TRTB with Middlesbrough and Stockton Corporations to form TMT; although the new body was initially committed to retaining trolleybuses for some years, trolleybuses had formed the major part of the TRTB whilst they only represented a small part of TMT and when maintenance problems started to arise replacement was an easy option. I would love, however, to see evidence that trolleybuses were more accident-prone than their diesel (or petrol) cousins. Again unlike trams (and I love trams too!), trolleybuses were able to take evasive action, at least to a limited extent.
Like John, I certainly didn’t view the trolleybus overhead as unsightly – quite the reverse actually – and I also share his views on the mess that urban planners made of many of our cities; of course sub-standard housing needed to be replaced but that is not an excuse for the wholesale destruction of beautiful, solid city centre buildings and familiar street patterns. In the case of the Glasgow system, for example, whilst the city centre itself has been left relatively intact, some areas served by trolleybuses immediately north of the centre (Cowcaddens and the Garngad, for instance) and also on the south side (parts of Paisley Road and Drumoyne) have largely been given over to urban motorways and their infrastructure. There will be many, I’m sure, who view these changes as improvements although we in the north-east in particular know that the redevelopment of cities could, in some cases, be influenced by those with corrupt motives (I’m thinking here of the case of T. Dan Smith, John Poulson, Andy Cunningham and others).
I’m surprised, too, that Joe, in his admiration of modern hybrid buses, hasn’t given due credit to the environmentally-friendly credentials of the trolleybus in the days before anybody had invented the term. Towns and cities such as Huddersfield and Bradford lying, as they do, in bowls are eminently suited to the trolleybus which can sweep speedily and silently up the banks from the centres out towards the suburbs without any of the pollution caused by the replacement motorbuses as they struggled manfully to cope with the gradients – St Enoch’s Road/Church Bank anybody?! If authorities had persevered with trolleybuses perhaps no one would have bothered to invent the hybrid!
Come on Joe: admit you were just winding us up!

Alan Hall

27/06/12 – 13:41

BUS - Fratton Bridge Trolley Wires

Whether tram/trolleybus wires look unsightly is subjective and not noticeable to those who’ve grown up with them. We learn to take lots of things for granted. I’ve never heard one complaint on the subject where new tram systems have sprouted in the last twenty years. I think it’s worth airing a 1960’s photo I took of the most complicated junction in Portsmouth, Fratton Bridge, where a policeman stood on a box on point duty for many decades, in all weathers, gathering many accolades when he finally retired. The junction was tricky, with traffic congestion and a climb to the bridge. It meant slick work, momentarily accelerating, then coasting across a frog, to go the right way. Rarely did the trolleybus drivers get it wrong.

Chris Hebbron

28/06/12 – 07:29

Thanks Alan and Chris…I was beginning to wonder if I was alone in my love of trolleybus overhead. There was a similar pattern of overhead at Four Lane Ends, in Bradford, with an acute right turn for the 31 Allerton route, which this photo puts me in mind of!
As you say, Chris, how drivers managed the "off" insulated sections at such complicated junctions amazes me…it is a lost skill, and the "roof drum" on the top deck was music to my ears!
Bradford also had the advantage, until about 1962, of a batch of trolleys which made "tram like" sounds, and were unique as such, being regenerative AEC 661Ts with EEC equipment, and double reduction rear axles.
Being a passenger on the top deck, as a "Regen" eased its way across Four Lane Ends, was like being in the orchestra stalls! Lovely sounds…..What a shame we cannot capture it for the sound section of this wonderful site!

John Whitaker

28/06/12 – 07:30

I always thought trolleybus overhead quite attractive but I must admit Chris, your picture of Fratton Bridge is a bit "over the top", or should that be "over the head"?

Eric Bawden

28/06/12 – 07:31

Now that, to me, is beautiful in its own way, Chris, but, as you say, it all depends on what you’re used to I suppose and it’s important to draw attention to the skill required by trolleybus drivers; although the streets were generally quieter than city streets today it was, as you’ve pointed out, no mean feat to get a trolley smoothly from A to B, remembering where to apply power and where to coast and which frogs were automatic and which were manual. Let us also not forget the poor conductor/tress who (depending on the system) may have had to break off from collecting fares to pull a frog, then chase after the bus and jump onto the platform as it started to accelerate away. There’s a perfect example of this on the ‘Online’ video/dvd of South Shields Trolleybuses filmed at the Marsden Inn where the conductor has to chase after his bus as it circumnavigates the roundabout and heads for Horsley Hill Road. The roundabout is still there today but anybody attempting to run round it now would be promptly flattened!

Alan Hall

28/06/12 – 07:32

Now I’ve upset the trolley-lobbey! It was not intentional. I know they had "the power station behind them when going up Church Bank" but was only trying to say that without hindsight, it probably seemed (& perhaps was) the right thing at the time… the infrastructure was often worn out & needed redesigning (in Bradford to put up proper street lights, if I recall, and not brackets on trolley poles) and the buses aged. There was probably no generally available power back up (hybrid etc), which would make such a difference, although I don’t go all the way with with the redevelopment argument- same goes for all services. The same argument applied to London Underground until recently- worn out, but then the money had to be found. This could however (Leeds) be the age of the "new" Trolley!
Poking around, I found a lovely Bradford scene on Youtube: a dewiring (frog broken?). Up comes the little Austin (?) tower wagon, man climbs straight on roof of bus & fiddles: eventually bus sets off, man then grabs trolley booms & holds them off the wires across the faulty frogs. Would they have survived that guardian of us all, Elfansafety?


28/06/12 – 07:33

You could probably shelter from the rain under that lot!

Stephen Ford

28/06/12 – 10:19

No Joe, you are quite right about the "Elfansafety" aspect!
It would be impossible to turn back the clock, even were we to acquire such power, as the dreaded E and S would prohibit every human activity which then existed!
I can wax very lyrical about all aspects of transport, especially trams and trolleys, but also old motorbuses in general, and Tilling/Bristol flavour in particular, and, to me, that is the beauty of this site….it is a "broad church" of genuine enthusiasm!

John Whitaker

28/06/12 – 10:20

It was impressive, likeable or not! The bridge crossed the main train lines into Pompey. Good job they worked on the tidy third-rail system. Imagine all that catenary below and trolley overhead above!
One other minus point about London trams/trolleybuses, at least, and that was the fact that London Transport had to pay an annual wayleave for its poles to the various local councils, which must have cost a pretty penny!

Chris Hebbron

29/06/12 – 07:47

As is well known Leeds was a pioneer of trolleys along with Bradford but found the tram a better option. Some of the trolleys run by Leeds were truly bizarre including some awesome looking deckers. The new trollies if and when they appear will be efficient but will undoubtedly lack the charisma of the originals.

Chris Hough

30/06/12 – 17:56

If anyone owns a copy of the 1963 J. Joyce book "Trolleybus Trails" they will see another "attractive" shot of overhead wiring on p. 74, taken at the TRTB garage at Cargo Fleet!

Dave Towers

02/07/12 – 07:15

As a youngster, growing up in Bingley on the edge of Bradford CT territory, I too had a fascination for trolleybus overhead wiring. The turning circle at Bingley parish church was the terminus of the Bingley route (26), while trolleys bound for Crossflatts (24) continued straight on. I can vividly recall the ’26’ trolleybuses stopping short of the turning circle, and the conductor/conductress alighting to pull the handle at the side of the traction pole, in order to set the frog (points) for the turn. To a youngster, watching the whole process was simply mesmerising! However, on trips to Bradford, the overhead at Saltaire roundabout could be observed, and this was in a totally different league. Here, trolleybuses terminated from Bradford via Manningham Lane (25) or via Thackley and Shipley (40), negotiating the roundabout from different angles to return to the city. The Bingley and Crossflatts trolleys also navigated the roundabout to continue their journeys on the 24 and 26 routes. Added to that, Saltaire trolleybus depot was adjacent to the roundabout, and had its own wiring ‘roads’ on and off it. An amazing feat of electro-mechanical engineering, and to my eyes, quite beautiful in its own functional, industrial way. (Fred Dibnah would understand!). Just to add even more interest, there was a trolleybus reverser ‘just around the corner’ at the end of Dove Street. Although I never saw this in day to day use, presumably it would have been used by the ’40’ trolleybuses, allowing them to avoid negotiating the roundabout when road traffic was heavy.

Brendan Smith

02/07/12 – 11:18

I’d forgotten ‘reversers’, Brendan, but now recall that Portsmouth had two of them, although one went early on, when the route was closed. Most of the frogs I noted in South-West London, were manually operated by conductors from a traction pole. Just another job for those unsung, hard-working, nimble employees, dealing with 70-seater, not 56-seater, vehicles!

Chris Hebbron

02/07/12 – 18:07


Lexmark Scan1


The comments about trolleybus overhead wiring in Bradford made by Brendan about Saltaire and my best friend John W about Four Lane Ends have stimulated my own fascination for complex junctions. I took some photos of Bradford Four Lane Ends wiring in 1958, just before the junction was changed to a "round the block" layout to permit longer trolleybuses to negotiate the sharp right turn for the Allerton 31 route. The Thornton trolleybuses worked the auto point for the straight- on 7 route. I have included one of these photos looking west towards the outward Thornton route where the sharp right turn for Allerton can be seen. The other parts of the wiring include a full circle used for depot access/egress and for short working services from the city as well as for driver training.

Richard Fieldhouse

03/07/12 – 07:14

Brendan, I well remember all these features – particularly the Dove Street reverser used in emergencies. There were other turning circles on the Manningham Lane route – at Lister Park originally a long loop via Oak Lane, St Mary’s Road and North Park Road which was used as a siding for football specials,(later supplemented by the addition of a turning facility at the bottom of Oak Lane), at Ashfield Avenue Frizinghall (27) (a very tight turn), and at Nab Wood on the Shipley/Bingley boundary. There were different styles of overhead in Bingley and interestingly the wiring outside the Bradford City boundary was actually owned by Shipley and Bingley UDC’s and was left in situ for some time after the Bradford wiring had been dismantled, (possibly pending a negotiation of cost of removal versus scrap value !).

Gordon Green

03/07/12 – 07:15

Impressive, Richard. A complete circle would be unusual, I’d venture to suggest.

Chris Hebbron

03/07/12 – 10:55

These pictures of Four Lane Ends really bring the memories flooding back, Richard!
Bradford, as a major player in the trolleybus field, perhaps did not have a junction as complex as Pompey`s Fratton Bridge, but as highlighted by Gordon and Brendan, there were other gems on the system as well as FLE, and I remember the Dove Street/Saltaire layout with great affection. We would often, in the 1950s, take the trolley to Saltaire, where we were always made welcome at the adjacent depot, by our old friend, the depot Superintendant, Mr Harold Brearley, who was himself an enthusiast, and contributed to trolleybus literature in the early days.
There was a section of very modern wiring, by "Ohio Brass", on the Nab Wood-Bingley section too, which deserves mention, but our "home" depot was Duckworth Lane, and Four Lane Ends was in the heart of "Duckworth" territory, and that is where the strength of my memories is based. I can still see a single decker, probably 570 or 571, turning at Four Lane Ends about 1945! It was also, of course, the heart of "Regen" territory, where those extra special trolleybuses, 597-632, groaned about on their everyday business, sporting the wonderful Tattam livery with cream bands, grey roofs, black beading, and yellow lining, and to top it all, our absolute favourite buses of all time, the 9 Brush rebodies of 1944!
I can remember my time at Fairweather Green Infants School, between 1946 and 1950, where playtimes were regularly spent with nose pressed through the railings, to watch the 3 types of "Regen" rebody pulling up at the Mumby Street stop. Every so often, during the same vigils, a cloud of dust would shroud a West Yorkshire Bristol G, as it hurtled past on the Bradford-Denholm-Keighley route! Lets all revel in nostalgia….you can`t beat it!
Moved away from Newcastle a bit though. Sorry about that!

John Whitaker

04/07/12 – 05:04

307 Ex Bradford

John Whitaker is not as far off the original subject as he seems to think he is, once again the picture is from Newcastle City Libraries, but it’s of two Bradford trolley buses ‘ten in total’ that wandered all the way to Newcastle, I’m not entirely sure of the registrations but I think were KW 5453/62. They were Dick KE/English Electrics’ built for Bradford in 1931, and acquired by Newcastle in 1942 where they became 300/9; I think they must have found their way to Newcastle as part of a wartime redistribution of resources, and I think they remained in service until about the late 40’s

Ronnie Hoye

04/07/12 – 10:43

Well Ronnie, you have made my day! I have never seen a photo of one of the Bradford six wheelers as running in Newcastle, so many thanks.
Bradford received 10 of the Sunbeam MF2 chassis diverted from the Johannesburg order, under a MOWT allocation in 1942. These became BCT 693-702, always referred to as "Joburgs".
The MOWT directed that BCT sell a similar number of older vehicles to Newcastle, with the result that 1929/30 vehicles, 573, 579, 580, and 7 of the 1931 batch, 584, 585, 586, 591, 592, 594, and 595 proceeded north to NCT.
The Bradford batches were 572-583, KW 6062-7, 6654-9, and 584-595, KW9453-64.
My records show the Newcastle numbers as 306, 309, 308, 303, 304, 305, 307, 301, 302, and there is some doubt that the earlier 3 buses ever ran in Newcastle. One of each type, plus the demonstrator, 596, were sold in 1945 to South Shields.
The wheel has turned full circle Ronnie, and thanks again. If you have any further detail concerning the lives of these vehicles with NCT, I would be delighted to hear.
There were only 9 numbered by NCT, as 595 was broken up for spares.

John Whitaker

04/07/12 – 15:41

Re John W’s posting, I was just pondering how they were actually taken up to Newcastle? I assume they must have been towed by a Bradford tow truck which most likely was an even older former bus. Finding any photographs of the journey would be fascinating as it must have been a slow task.

Richard Leaman

04/07/12 – 15:42

What a wonderful surprise to see a photo of two ex Bradford trolleybuses operating in Newcastle. The two shown had contactor control but had a primitive style of master controller that required a third pedal that was tripped after each electric brake application. This trip pedal action reset the contactors again for a power application. The term "trippler" was used for these trolleybuses by the drivers in Bradford where they were based at Bolton depot. We rarely saw one of these "tripplers" at Four Lane Ends but the earlier EEC 3 axle types with direct mechanical cam controllers did appear. These trolleybuses were hard work to drive as the power pedal had to be continually pumped to get the required power and braking. These trolleybuses were known in Bradford by the drivers as "paddlers". It is said the drivers paddled in their sleep.

Richard Fieldhouse

04/07/12 – 16:30

Its a fascinating point, Richard, about how the Bradford "Trippler" trolleys got to Newcastle. I presume they were towed up, but by whom, and how, I have no idea!
There were several instances of wartime trolleybus loans, and, amongst these, some Bournemouth trolleybuses ran in South Shields! It is also interesting to note that also, in 1942, Bradford abandoned its Stanningley tram service, as the track was desperate! The MOWT arranged loan motorbuses, Regents from Leeds, and STs from London, and 10 "Preston" cars of 1919/21 vintage were sold to Sheffield, who also received some Newcastle Hurst Nelson cars. Presumably such movements were by low loader. You never know what might appear on this site….just look at Ronnie`s photo today!

John Whitaker

05/07/12 – 06:54

Thx for this amazing photo, Ronnie. These old warhorses are seriously unattractive and, it would seem, crude, even for their day. the 1931 ‘Diddlers’ were not like this at all. There was some discussion on another posting about trolleybus movements in the war – see this Old Bus Photos link
I would doubt if any such movements were by low-loaders, much more a recent invention, apart from ‘Queen Mary’s’ which move dismantled planes around during/after the war. They would have been towed, as Richard L suggests.
The MofWT must have had some challenges to meet at times, such as the late 1940 Coventry Blitz, which wiped out the city’s tram system permanently! And a similar end came in Bristol, in 1941,when bombs damaged a bridge carrying the tramway power supply. How they kept public transport going, with minimal interruption, in such conditions, was amazing.

Chris Hebbron

05/07/12 – 06:55

Bradford’s Stanningly tram service was originally a through joint route between Leeds and Bradford. The two systems had different gauges and the trams where fitted with wheels that could be move on the axle with the tram wheel base widening to standard gauge in Leeds and narrowing to 4ft in Bradford. Sadly through running was abandoned during the first world war Leeds trams turned right to go to Pudsey just before the Bradford Stanningly terminus but this line was cut back in 1939 to Stanningly town street and was totally abandoned for buses in the early fifties. The replacing Bradford bus route was the number 9 and was home to Weymann and East Lancs bodied Regents for many years after the war.

Chris Hough

05/07/12 – 06:57

There’s a picture on p146 of "Blue Triangle" by Alan Townsin of an AEC Mammoth Major 8 wheeler loaded with engines leaving the AEC works in 1941/2 and towing a new AEC 661T trolleybus for Notts. & Derby Traction Co. I suppose therefore that trolleybuses would be towed up and down the country by whatever means was available at the time. I wonder if any were towed by steam waggon to save on fuel oil?

Eric Bawden

05/07/12 – 06:58

The same photograph of no. 1 (formerly Bradford 592) and taken in Byker depot appears in both ‘The Trolleybuses of Newcastle-upon-Tyne’ by T P Canneaux & N H Hanson and ‘Newcastle Trolleybuses’ by Stephen Lockwood. According to the Canneaux & Hanson book they were originally numbered 1-9 and 0 by Newcastle, 0 being Bradford 595 which was purchased for spares only but allocated a number all the same! The remainder were prepared for, and available for, service but nos. 6, 8 & 9 (Bradford 573, 580 and 579) remained unused. Nos. 1-5 and 7 (Bradford 592, 594, 584, 585, 586 and 591) were still in service at the time of the 1946 renumbering exercise and received the numbers 301-305 and 307. The book records the withdrawal date of all but 304 as 31 December 1948; no withdrawal date is given for 304.
They never received Newcastle livery and operated in Bradford Blue or wartime grey mainly on Pilgrim Street to Walker rush-hour extras.

Alan Hall

05/07/12 – 11:18

You’re right, Chris, they are a bit of an ugly duckling. When compared to the size of the rest of the windows the windscreens look like an afterthought. If Alan H is correct and these buses were finally withdrawn in 1948, then they would have been replaced by the BUT’s that started this discussion, and I think most of us would agree that they were an extremely handsome vehicle.

Ronnie Hoye

05/07/12 – 11:20

I agree that trolleybuses must have been towed. I mentioned low loaders in connection with the wartime movement of tramcars, but perhaps they were moved by railway.
The 1929 "Paddlers" are reported as not running for NCT, confirming my records. This was because of their older control system, detailed by Richard. One of these trolleys went to South Shields in 1945, but it was one which had the "Trippler" control system fitted to it in 1934, after 588 suffered a career ending accident.
The Bournemouth trolleys I mentioned as running in South Shields had also previously run in Newcastle.

John Whitaker

05/07/12 – 11:21

Interesting point, Chris Hough, about the adjustable axles to adapt the trams to the two different gauges. There’s nothing new under the sun as they say. Spanish trains have a wider track gauge than the standard one and post-war, their international trains had similar axles. Now, their new HST/TGV lines have been built to standard gauge.
The Mammoth Major photo sounds, Eric and the thought of using a steam waggon is a possibility. It’s worth recalling that in that period, any lorries much over 3-tonners were restricted to 20mph as well, making the journeys even more tedious! I remember the little 20 (oval?) plates on the back.

Chris Hebbron

05/07/12 – 15:59

Just to clarify my earlier post timed at 06:58 I mean that the same photo appears in both books but it’s not the same photo as Ronnie has posted here. I hope that makes sense now!

Alan Hall

05/07/12 – 16:01

My, how we move about! I don’t mind though…perhaps we should have a free discussion section. Bradford and Leeds dual gauge tram route is well documented in tramway literature, so I won’t mention it here, but coming back to the Bradford "Tripplers", I would suggest that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder! The LUT "Diddlers" were a year newer, and were AECs anyway, and, in my mind, hardly attractive, with their half cab/bonnet layout.
These were the times of rapid design, and the "art deco" movement. EEC were trying to establish a fashionable shape, and similar bodies were supplied to Nottingham, on EEC 6 wheeler trolleybuses, and 1929 AEC Regents, some of the latter having centre entrances. See David Beilby`s wonderful gallery.
It was not until late 1931 that the popular "standard" 6 bay EEC body appeared.
The Nottingham C/E Regents were an attempt to establish a new norm for entrance position too, and must have been quite revolutionary for their time, and they were a year before the Roe/Grimsby experimental bus which set a later trend, albeit single staircase.
There, I’ve set us off in a new direction! My mind leaps all over the place!

John Whitaker

05/07/12 – 16:01

Thinking just a bit more about moving these vehicles about, just imagine the journey being towed along at no more than 20 mph and then what route would they take because at that time virtually every main road would have been crossed by low bridges, most of which have since been demolished. It must have taken days to get there and a lot of planning.

Richard Leaman

05/07/12 – 17:01

I should’ve made it clearer, John W, that my thoughts were more concerned with the technical side of things than body aesthetics. Dick, Kerr were very much a tram builder and I suppose that their thoughts still leaned in that direction when building trolleybuses. In fact, I didn’t realise that they’d built any. I would not say the the ‘Diddlers’ were the best-looking bodies, but they did give more than a nod to art-deco, whereas the ‘Tripplers’ seemed to have been designed by two people, one putting a stylish (of a sort)upper deck front on it and the other putting a box on the bottom half, with more than a nod at art-garden shed. See?! Speaking one’s mind is not only the prerogative of Northerners! So, as they trendily say, live with it!!

Chris Hebbron

06/07/12 – 07:09

Well Chris, nowt to get excited about! EEC had built trolleybus bodies since 1926, and possibly earlier under the UEC name on the initial Tees Side fleet, and they had of course, been building bus bodies for some time before that. The first trolleybus body was on modified Leyland PLSC1 chassis in 1927, as a demonstrator, finishing up as Bradford 560. Then, in 1931, they signed the agreement with AEC to build trolleybuses as a joint venture, and this is the time when they were seriously experimenting with shape and design. Bradford 584-595 were the last of the EEC chassis produced, but I believe the last of all were the initial Notts and Derby fleet of single deckers.
It was some time before the acceptable shape of a trolleybus front end was established. Experiments continued to about 1935, with half cabs, dummy radiators, ridged windscreens etc, before the flush front became very much the norm.

John Whitaker

06/07/12 – 14:21

I think you’re right, John, about trolleybus design, which seemed to go through a more extreme fluctuation of style than motor buses, before settling down. Maybe it was the full-fronted aspect which caused it. Many early bodies were made to look just like motor buses – half cab with radiators! I always thought that after LUT’s ‘Diddlers’, their next offering, the essentially 1931 AEC/LGOC X1, set the future style for trolleybuses, and, as it happens for the double-deck AEC Q motor bus. See this link.
And with LUT’s X1, we can basically come the full circle to the the Newcastle trolleybuses above!

Chris Hebbron

07/07/12 – 06:54

I agree about LT X1 Chris, and recommend the Capital London trolleybus book to you…see the LB post, where LB5s were converted to tower wagons amongst others.
My final note on Tripplers….It matters not what aesthetic responses they now draw. It was an explosion of fashion "pushing" at the time, in 1931.
Living in the South and Midlands myself, for most of my life, may I trendily say "Move on"!!

John Whitaker

07/07/12 – 12:13

Will look out for the book you mention. I confess, that despite growing up in ‘Diddlerland’, the only LT trolleybus service vehicles I ever saw were AEC Mercuries. Being bought new, they may well have lasted longer than the LB5’s, or not been assigned to Fulwell Depot.

Chris Hebbron

09/07/12 – 07:34

LTN 501_lr

Apologies for it being a member of the batch following those being discussed but I thought you might appreciate a colour photo of a Newcastle Trolley rather than the black and white images featured so far.

Andrew Charles

09/07/12 – 15:55

I believe these were Sunbeams, and they came between the two batches of BUT’s. I know the bodies were built in Newcastle by Northern Coachbuilders and being a local lad I should prefer them, but to me the MCCW bodies ‘especially the LT ‘Q’ style just look so much better, but to be fair, these lasted well and gave good service, and as has been said before on this subject, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Ronnie Hoye

24/12/13 – 06:51

On the subject of trolleybuses and town centre re-development, I have read that a one way system in Reading town centre overlapped by a year or so the end of the trolleybus system there, and, as the expense of rewiring to suit the new road layout was not justified, the UK’s first contra-flow bus lane was the result.

Geoff Kerr

24/12/13 – 08:28

Don’t know about that, Geoff, but Reading Council were serial tinkerers. On occasional Saturdays and during school holidays I would venture to Reading from my High Wycombe home to drive for Reading Mainline. My first question was always "Where am I going?", the reply "Well you know the route." It seemed for a time, though, that the road layout changed every time I went up to Reading. Kings Road changed from Bus Contraflow to standard and back a number of times, as did the Butts, and this was just in the period 1996 – 2001.

David Oldfield

LTN 494_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

31/03/14 – 17:52

Further to the query regarding the withdrawal of 304. (5/7/12 – 06:58) PSV Circle fleet history PA16 shows that it was withdrawn in 1948 and it’s disposal as:- Hope (Dealer), Hexham, 1949, for scrap.

Ian Hignett


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