What is a Trolleybus?

Trolleybus CurawayA Trolleybus is a  bus driven by electricity collected from overhead wires. Originating in the tramway era as a cheaper option for lightly trafficked routes Britain had 50 operators between 1911 and 1972 running in many large towns & London suburbs. Modern trolleybuses still operate in many cities around the world and are an environmentally friendly solution to urban transport problems.

 

The British Trolleybus Society's Preserved Fleet

Our Vehicles

Some of the BTS Fleet on DisplayThe BTS owns 13 trolleybuses, one motorbus and a horse-drawn tower wagon.

The photograph shows a line up of six of our vehicles at Sandtoft, details of these and the rest of our fleet can be found by clicking on the vehicle's photograph in the table below.

 

Within the information about each of our vehicles you will find a summary of its technical specification, where and when it operated, and its current restoration status.

Trolleybuses

Aachen 22

Aachen 22

Henschel 562E-SSW with Ludewig RB61T bodywork built in 1956

Awaiting Restoration.

Bournemouth 99

Sunbeam MS2 with Park Royal H56D bodywork built in 1935

Although restored and operable from 2003, 99 was taken out of service after the Southern Trolleybus Event in May 2007 for some further restoration work to be done. There are some photographs of 99's restoration here.

Bournemouth 301

Bournemouth 301

Sunbeam MF2B with Weymann H65D bodywork built 1962

Restored

Cardiff 203

Cardiff 203

AEC 664T with Northern Counties H70R bodywork built in 1942

Fully Restored.

Glasgow TB78

Glasgow TB78

BUT 9613T with Crossley H71R bodywork built in 1958

Fully Restored

Huddersfield 631

Huddersfield 631

Sunbeam S7 with East Lancs H72R bodywork built in 1959

Restored at Thamesdown Transport in Swindon.

London 1812

London 1812

BUT 9614T (Q1) with MCW H70R bodywork built in 1948

Fully Restored. Currently stored in Reading pending a mechanical overhaul. Due to return to Sandtoft in 2021.

Manchester 1344

Manchester 1344

B.U.T 9612T with Burlingham bodywork built in 1955

Fully Restored

Mexborough & Swinton 34

Mexborough & Swinton 34

Garrett ‘O’ with Garrett BxxC bodywork built in 1927

Awaiting Restoration

Reading 113

Reading 113

AEC 661T with Park Royal H56R bodywork built late 1938

Fully Restored

South Shields 204

South Shields 204

Karrier F4 with Weymann H55R bodywork built in 1937

Fully Restored, You can view some photographs of 204's restoration here.

Walsall 342

Walsall 342

Sunbeam F4 with Brush H65R bodywork built in 1951

Currently stored near Sandtoft awaiting restoration.

Walsall 872

Walsall 872

Sunbeam F4A with Willowbrook H70RD bodywork built in 1956

The bodywork was restored by Thamesdown Transport in Swindon and 872 re-entered service at Sandtoft in 2017.

Other Vehicles

Reading 47 Motorbus

Reading 47 Motorbus

AEC Regent with Park Royal L52R bodywork built in 1935

Restored, with current MOT and road tax

'William' Tower Wagon

'William' Tower Wagon

Blackwell & Co. horse-drawn tower wagon dating from 1902

The wooden wheels have been refurbished and it is hoped to start restoration on the main bodywork in the near future.

5/5/22

 

Trolleybus Preservation

Museums

East AngliaMuseums that operate trolleybuses in the UK are: the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley, East Anglia Transport Museum, Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft and The Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft, near Doncaster.

It is also possible to operate trolleybuses at The North of England Open Air Museum at Beamish. However, this museum is designed to depict an earlier era than that of the trolleybus; the usual sole trolleybus at this location is not normally seen in operation by the public. This vehicle is Newcastle Corporation 501, which was for a time on loan to Sandtoft .

A number of other transport museums around the country house trolleybuses as static exhibits. Many others are owned by individuals or small groups and are kept at locations which are generally not open to the public. There is some fluidity in the situation as vehicles are moved around from time to time; either for renovation at a specific location or for operation at an event at one of the working museums. The three museums mentioned previously all hold special events at various times and welcome participation of visiting vehicles.

Several vehicles are preserved overseas. News of overseas museums is always welcome for the Museum and Preservation column, please email museumnews@britishtrolley.org.uk.

 

Table of Preserved British Trolleybuses in the British Isles

Believed to be correct at  15 March 2021

Location

No.

Fleet List

Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft,

Belton Road,
Sandtoft,
Nr. Doncaster,
North Lincolnshire DN8 5SX

 

44

 

Bournemouth 99; 297 & 301
Bradford 562; 706; 743; 746; 792; 834; 846 
Cardiff 203
Cleethorpes 54; 59
Derby 172 175%
Doncaster 375
Glasgow TB78
Hastings 46
Huddersfield 541; 619 & 631
London 1348; 1812*
Maidstone 56 & 72
Manchester 1344
Mexborough & Swinton 34
Nottingham 367; 466%; 493 & 506
Notts & Derby 353%
Reading 113; 144; 174; 181 & 193
Rotherham 37 & 44 #
South Shields 204
St. Helens 387$
S. Yorkshire PTE 2450
Walsall 342# & 872

#stored at Thorpe-In-Balne

% stored at  Selby

* London 1812 is currently in storage in Reading, having arrived on 7 November 2020. It is due to be taken to Dorking where a number of mechanical repairs are due to be carried out before its return to Sandtoft in 2022.

Bournemouth 301 is currently in Ellesmere Port undergoing finishing touches following an external repaint. It should return to Sandtoft late 2021.

$ St. Helens 387 currently displayed at the North West Museum of Road Transport in St. Helens.

 

East Anglia Transport Museum,

Chapel Road,
Carlton Colville,
Nr. Lowestoft,
Suffolk NR33 8BL

 

14

Ashton Under Lyne 87
Belfast 246
Bournemouth 202 & 286
Derby 237
Hastings 34
London 260; 796; 1201; 1521
Maidstone 52
Newcastle 628
Notts & Derby 357
Portsmouth 313

 

Black Country Living Museum,

Tipton Road,
Dudley,
West Midlands.

4

Bradford 735 (Now in Walsall Corporation livery)
Walsall 862
Wolverhampton 78 & 433

Ipswich Transport Museum,
Cobham Road,
Ipswich,
Suffolk, IP3 9JD
6

Ipswich 2; 9; 26; 46; 105 & 126

 

Keighley Bus Museum Trust 8

Bradford 704, 713, 758; 844, 845* and 847*
Keighley 5 Teesside 2

* On long term loan from The Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft

West Of England Transport Collection, Winkleigh,
Devon

 

1

Bradford 703 (Privately Owned) 

Private Ownership – Boughton, Notts. 4

Derby 224
Nottingham 502 & 578
Notts & Derby 307

Cardiff & S. Wales Trolleybus Project,

Barry,
South Wales.

2 Cardiff 243 & 262
London Transport Museum,
Acton & Covent Garden
London
3

London 1 & 1768 (Acton)
London 1253 (Covent Garden)

Hastings Trolleybus Restoration Group

Bexhill-on-Sea,
East Sussex

1

Hastings 3

Hastings No. 3 was fitted with a Commer TS3 diesel engine in 1960 but retains both trolleybus chassis and bodywork.

Featherstone,
South Staffordshire
1 Derby 215 (Private)
Greater Manchester Transport Museum,
Boyle Street,
Cheetham,
Manchester
2 Ashton under Lyne 80

Manchester 1250

Science Museum,
Wroughton,

Nr. Swindon,
Wilts.

2 Brighton & Hove 6340
Ipswich 44
Private Ownerhip (England) 1 Bournemouth 299
Ulster Folk & Transport Museum,
Cultra,
Holywood,
Co. Down, N.I.
2 Belfast 98
Belfast 112
NTA Raunds, Northants 1 Hastings 45
B&MMOT,
Wythall,
N. Warwickshire
1 Wolverhampton 616
Warnham, Sussex 1 Belfast 168 (NTA) - this vehicle has been transferred to Keighley for restoration.
Bradford Industrial Museum,

West Yorkshire

2 Bradford 515 (body only) and 737
Glasgow Museum of Transport 1 Glasgow TBS 13
Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum 1 Teesside 5
Hampshire County Council Store, Porchester 1 Portsmouth 201
Six Counties Bus Preservation Group, Mid Ulster 1 Belfast 183
NMGW,
Nantgarw
1 Cardiff 215
North of England Open Air Museum, Beamish,
Co. Durham
2

Keighley 12
Newcastle 501

NTA Ashton,
Northants
1 Wolverhampton 654
Private Ownership – North East Aircraft Museum, Washington, Sunderland 1 Bradford 835
Rotherham Trolleybus Group,

Burton upon Trent,
Staffordshire

1 Rotherham 73
Private Ownership 3 Teesside 11 and Bournemouth 212 (was 246) Bradford 712
Totals – Locations 29 113 Operators 30

 

NB. British vehicles preserved overseas are NOT included.

John Zebedee thanks all those who kindly replied to his enquiries – too numerous to mention individually.

2/5/22

 

Bournemouth 99's Progress

In July 2002 Bournemouth 99 (also known as 212) ran again for the first time in many years. As noted in the BTS Preserved Fleet page, 99 suffered a major traction motor fault some time ago. The motor had been removed; the repaired unit was refitted, and much rewiring of the vehicle took place.

Test Run - Bournemouth 99

Visitors to the 7th July 2002 Sandtoft Open Day were delighted to see 99 running on test. At that time the brakes still needed overhaul and the interior needed considerable attention.


The photograph shows 99 being removed from the overhead after her successful test run.


Bournemouth 99


In March 2003, member Graham Bilbé decided it was time 99 received some attention. Unable to use the workshop, he managed to work on some of the braking system from above, and also attended to a few other minor jobs. Here she sports her chrome drivers windscreen again! (See photo, left).

Since then, Graham generally sorted out the brakes, and the interior and bodywork received attention. It was hoped at the time that 99 would be running again at Spring Bank 2003.




Bournemouth 99Bournemouth 99Success! 99 was sufficiently restored to be launched back in to service at Spring Bank 2003! And a fine sight she made!

As one of the oldest members of the fleet (dating from 1935), 99 was used sparingly. During 2007/8, she had further work done on the brakes, resistance banks, bodywork, and other restoration jobs. However, electrical problems began to occur and also a problem with the upper deck bodywork appeared and she is now off the road until repairs can be carried out.
 

 

Cardiff 203 Restoration

Appeal Fund Launched July 2006Brian Maguire Painting 203's Lower Deck August 2009Following the sad loss of members Geoff Griffiths and Mike Dare in recent years the BTS Committee decided to restore Cardiff 203 in memory of both gentlemen.

It was always Mike’s intention that once South Shields 204 had been restored, Cardiff 203 would be the next BTS vehicle for ‘the treatment’. In view of all the work that Mike had done not only for the BTS but also the Trolleybus preservation movement in general, it was felt that restoring 203 would be a fitting tribute.

 

Likewise, Geoff did a lot of work for Sandtoft, The Black Country Museum, Carlton Colville and, much nearer to his home, the Cardiff & South Wales Trolleybus Project. Geoff’s specialist role was as an electrician and he has helped solve many a problem on trolleybuses at the various trolleybus museums and, again, being a Welshman, restoring 203 in his name was also seen as a fitting tribute.

Brian Maguire Painting 203's Lower Deck August 2009Cardiff 203 at Sandtoft 25 July 2009

An appeal fund was launched by Roy Fawcett and Dave Hall at the Sandtoft Gathering in July 2006. Thanks to the generosity of a lot of people, the cost of restoration to the BTS was considerably reduced. With enough funds now in place, restoration work was started by Brian Maguire (bodywork) and Bruce Lake (electrical work) in early 2009. It has proved to be quite a costly restoration job as the electrical motor had to be sent away to repair a serious defect and also all internal seating has had to be completely re-upholstered. 203 has been repainted into the streamlined livery it wore between 1946 and 1950 and was re-launched into service at Sandotft on Sunday 30 May 2010 following a ceremony performed by BTS Trustee Lord Stoddart of Swindon.

The photos included on this page show the 203 Restoration Fund appeal being launched together with restoration progress at various stages and finally 203s relaunch into service at The Trolleybus Museum At Sandtoft..  To see a larger image, left click on each photo

Cardiff 203 Under Test at Sandtoft 4 April 2010203 Sparkles in the Sandtoft Sunchine Awaiting Launch Speeches
 

To read the complete history of Cardiff 203 click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester 1344 arrives in Swindon

Manchester 1344, now back under BTS ownership, was towed from Carlton Colville to Thamesdown Transport's depot in Swindon on Sunday 21 November 2010. Whilst there it was externally and internally restored and the seats re-upholstered. 1344 was re-commissioned back into at the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft over the Spring Bank Holiday in late May 2011 as part of the BTSs 50th anniversary celebrations. For the story of 1344s restoration see below. For a report on 1344s re-commissioning into service click here.

1344's history is documented in the Fleet List pages.

Manchester 1344 at Thamesdown Depot, Swindon in December 2010A rear view of Manchester 1344 at Thamesdown Depot, Swindon in December 2010Phase One - December 2010


The first phase of 1344s restoration has begun. These photos were taken on 10 December 2010 and shows the exterior completely sanded down and panels replaced where necessary. The next stage is to prepare the interior for a repaint as well as taking out all the seats ready for them to be re-upholstered by Thamesdown Transport.

 

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Former UK Systems

This page will eventually look at the many undertakings in the UK that at one time or another ran trolleybuses. A table of British Operators is given below as a temporary measure.

 

System

Date Of Opening

Date Of Closure

No. Of New Vehicles

No. Of Used Vehicles

Maximum No. Of Vehicles

No. Of Routes

Aberdare 15.01.1914 23.07.1925 8 0 8 4
Ashton Under Lyne 26.02.1925 31.12.1966 42 0 19 5
Belfast     28.03.1938 12.05.1968 235 11 245 17
Birmingham 27.11.1922 30.06.1951 107 0 78 5
Bournemouth    13.05.1933 20.04.1969 169 7 104 22
Bradford 20.06.1911 26.03.1972 259 85 187 17
Brighton (BCT) 01.05.1939 30.06.1961 52 0 52 9
Brighton Hove & District 01.01.1945 24.03.1959 11 0 11 4 (inc BCT)
Cardiff 01.03.1942 11.01.1970 79 7 79 14
Chesterfield 25.05.1927 24.03.1938 16 3 19 1
Cleethorpes 18.07.1937 04.06.1960 19 0 13 1
Darlington 17.01.1926 31.07.1957 95 4 66 5
Derby 10.01.1932 09.09.1967 159 6 73 11
Doncaster 22.08.1928 14.12.1963 77 25 47 6
Dundee 03.09.1912 13.05.1914 2 0 2 1
Glasgow 03.04.1949 27.05.1967 195 0 195 9
Grimsby 03.10.1926 04.06.1960 26 0 19 2
Halifax 20.07.1921 24.10.1926 1 2 2 1
Hartlepool (West) 28.02.1924 31.03.1953 48 0 31 4
Hastings 01.04.1928 31.05.1959 103 0 58 10
Huddersfield 04.12.1933 13.07.1968 240 0 140 15
Ipswich 02.09.1923 23.08.1963 126 0 85 14

Keighley (Cedes Stoll)

03.05.1913 03.05.1926 10 0 10 3
Keighley (Standard) 20.08.1924 31.08.1932 18 0 18 3
Kingston Upon Hull 25.07.1937 31.10.1964 116 0 100 7
Leeds 20.06.1911 26.07.1928 15 0 15 3
Llanelly 26.12.1932 08.11.1952 32 1 19 3
London 16.05.1931 08.05.1962 1891 0 1811 68
Maidstone 01.05.1928 15.04.1967 32 9 24 2
Manchester 01.03.1938 31.12.1966 269 0 189 9
Mexborough & Swinton 31.08.1915 26.03.1961 74 13 45 4
Newcastle Upon Tyne 02.10.1935 02.10.1966 317 6 204 28
Nottingham 10.04.1927 30.06.1966 296 12 157 8
Notts. & Derby 07.01.1932 25.04.1953 64 0 32 3
Oldham 26.08.1925 03.09.1926 2 0 2 1
Pontypridd 18.09.1930 31.01.1957 19 0 9 1
Portsmouth 04.08.1934 27.07.1963 115 0 100 9
Ramsbottom 14.08.1913 31.03.1931 7 0 7 1
Reading 18.07.1936 03.11.1968 81 6 63 4
Rhondda 22.12.1914 10.03.1915 6 0 6 1
Rotherham 03.10.1912 02.10.1965 142 0 80 10
St. Helens 11.07.1927 30.06.1958 96 0 66 6
Southend On Sea 16.10.1925 28.10.1954 37 15 34 4
South Lancashire 03.08.1930 31.08.1958 71 0 71 4
South Shields 12.10.1936 29.04.1964 66 17 61 11
Stockport 10.03.1913 11.09.1920 3 0 3 1
Teesside 08.11.1919 18.04.1971 45 11 21 3
Walsall 22.07.1931 03.10.1970 70 24 60 6
Wigan 07.05.1925 30.09.1931 4 0 4 1
Wolverhampton 29.10.1923 05.03.1967 354 1 173 14
York (First Period) 22.12.1920 31.12.1929 4 0 4 1
York (Second Period) 06.10.1931 05.01.1935 3 0 3 1

29/4/22

 

Modern Trolleybus Systems

There are around 350 trolleybus systems world-wide. That's as many as there are street tramways! This fact astounds most people who have never seen a modern trolleybus system, and therefore think they are defunct. However, many of them are in the former Eastern Bloc countries, so the chances of coming across one whilst on holiday is quite small.

However, a good many major cities around the world operate trolleybus systems, including Vancouver, San Francisco, Geneva, Lyon, Salzburg, Athens, Beijing and St Petersburg. In many of these places, the trolleybus is the backbone of the public transport system.

New networks are being constructed or proposed all the time - the Italian systems in Lecce and Rome, for example, have been introduced in recent years. More and more, environmentally friendly electric trolleybuses are being acknowledged as an efficient, clean and popular choice for public transport. Many are now built with a small battery that allows operation away from the overhead wires and so increasingly trolleybus systems are being expanded with minimal or no additional overhead required.

This page will become an entry point to various modern systems and other web sites showing modern systems.

For starters here are some links which show trolleybuses operating in very recent years, and also statistics of the spread of systems around the world:

www.worldwide.trolleybus.org.uk

www.tbus.org.uk/systems.htm and www.tbus.org.uk/news.htm

A new system in Castellón, Spain, seen during construction in December 2007

Czech Republic - Mariánské Lázne

A petition to take the reintroduction of trolleybuses in the UK seriously ran through 2007. It closed with 1788 signatures.

www.`rank`-spindler.de/ - photographs of current trolleybus systems, mainly in Eastern Europe - seems to be temporarily unavailable.

Members' Photo websites:

www.flickr.com/photos/trolleyfan/collections/

29/4/22

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