Thursday, 10 May 2012

Museum marks end of the trolleybus era

What Goes Around from David Doré on Vimeo.

Museum marks end of the trolleybus era

Fifty years ago this month the last trolleybus ran its final scheduled service in the capital before the type was withdrawn in favour of more modern buses such as the Routemaster.  Sixty years ago the last few trams disappeared from the City's streets.  To celebrate this double anniversary - and also to remember the trolleybuses that ran in the nearby towns of Ipswich and Southend - the East Anglia Transport Museum held a special two-day gala event to remember these forgotten forms of public transport.

Eight London Transport trolleybuses were on show at the museum - the most all together in one place since they went out of service - and it is fascinating to see how quiet and efficient they still are today.  Eventually undone by [then-cheap] diesel-powered buses that were not constrained by route-defining overhead wires or the risk of those same wires coming adrift, trolleybuses had faded into obscurity - in this country at least - by 1962 and had completely vanished from the country ten years later.  But at their height they were seen as the future of public transport - clean, fast, modern and the natural successor to the open trams that plied the same routes.

Those same trams were evolving too, and new enclosed models allowed them to stay in the capital for only ten years less than the trolleybuses.  In fact, trams could be said to have held on better than trolleybuses, for as well as the world-famous examples in Brighton new tram networks have been reintroduced in Croydon, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, the West Midlands and (eventually) Edinburgh.

However while trolleybuses, like trams, have remained popular in Europe it is only now - in light of so much environmental concern - that they are being brought back to Britain.  A new 21st Century trolleybus is being planned for Leeds.  If it is successful other cities may follow suit.  As the title of the accompanying video so presciently states: what goes around... comes around.  Something we all know well, eh?

Sadly I was not able to attend the East Anglia Transport Museum for this particular celebration but I have been in the past, when I took these pictures.  The great thing about museum exhibits and vintage vehicles like these is - they don't date!  It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit at the time and has stayed in my memory ever since.  I am long due a return visit and I would thoroughly recommend it as a day out if you are ever in the area.  It's simply smashing to see so many people turn out to celebrate the classic tram and trolleybus, and to know there are still enthusiasts around to ensure these wonderful machines keep running.  Long may they continue, and perhaps we shall see these vehicles' spiritual successors in cities up and down the country in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Those are excellent photographs. I am sorry that you could not attend. :)


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