Daily Archives: May 13, 2010

A Bit Extra Trolley Bus 616

1949 Sunbeam F4

Reg No: FJW 616
Chassis: Sunbeam F4
Engine: Trolleybus
Body: Park Royal DD

Trolleybuses were powered by electricity, drawing power from overhead wires. Wolverhampton Corporation was one of the most enthusiastic operators of trolleybuses from the 1920s onward.

Wolverhampton-based Sunbeam was one of Britain’s most important trolleybus builders, with a strong export market too. Guy Motors, also Wolverhampton based, took control after World War II. The local corporation, needing to replace its worn out pre-war fleet, took delivery of 99 of these fine trolleybuses between 1948 and 1950, on Guy and Sunbeam chassis. The Park Royal bodies were all to the newly permitted width of 8 feet.

Trolleybuses were vibration free and capable of long lives, many chassis being given new bodies. However, like other operators, Wolverhampton chose in the 1960s to scrap its trolleybus system and 616 retired in November 1963. It was presented to the Railway Preservation Society, Hednesford, and was stored at Alton in Hampshire for many years. To safeguard the future of this classic example of Wolverhampton’s post-war trolleybus fleet, the RPS passed it to the Trust’s predecessor in 1975. The Trust soon moved 616 to secure, undercover accommodation in north-west England and there it remained until arriving at Wythall at last, for the first time, in July 2004.

Trolley Bus Post 4 Early 1968 Mercian Vol.1 No.2

More Trolley Bus Stuff – Mercian Early 1968 Vol.1 No.2

(New layout – No date given)

The Odd Man Out at Hednesford – Part Four  – J. Hughes.

In the last article in this series I promised to give the final details of the trolley bus closure in Wolverhampton, and also details of the vehicles to be exhibited in the Science Museum, Birmingham.  As a number of members made the trip on the Tour Bus of March 5th 1967, they will be aware of the events!  However, here are all the details.

The trolley bus system closed on Sunday evening March 5th, 1967, when No.446 made the final journey to Dudley.  This bus was of course full of enthusiasts and a duplicate No. 452 ran immediately in front.  Everything went of in an orderly fashion and there was no misbehaviour!  If we cast our minds back to the early 1950s when the trams disappeared from Birmingham it will be recalled that a large number of card were wrecked by ‘Souvenir Hunters’ and vandals.

Earlier in the day two tours took place.  The one by the National Trolley Bus Association, in their own preserved vehicles and the other by the Wolverhampton Trolley Bus Group (ourselves) in No. 433.  During the latter tour it was announced for all to hear that No. 433 was to be preserved in the Museum of Science and Industry, Birmingham.  This vehicle had been the subject of negotiations with the Transport Department of the Science Museum for over three years, and it was only a few days before the end that the Transport Department finally agreed to the proposal that No. 433 should go for preservation. 

No. 433 – Steve Kemp

After the tour No. 433 was towed away to Bilston Depot, where it will be stored until the Science Museum has been rebuilt.  Also at Bilston Depot is No. 432 – this vehicle is stripped to the chassis form so that the workings of the trolley bus can be seen.  A set of overhead and distribution equipment has been saved too, so that the trolley bus will be ‘mobile’ in its new home.

The Wolverhampton Trolley Bus Group and the RPS (who have been closely connected) wish to thank Dr. E. R. Clark for his negotiations in this matter.  It has been decided that the vehicles and equipment shall be presented to the Museum by the Wolverhampton Corporation Transport Department.

During the last few weeks of trolley bus operation the fleet had been reduced to 23 vehicles.  On the last day at least one vehicle disgraced itself by breaking down – it was immediately towed to the scrap yard, to be joined by the others a few hours later.  During the last few months all the overhead equipment has been taken down, and quite a large number of the 6,000 traction poles have been removed.  In a few years time nothing will remain to remind one of the second largest trolley bus system in Great Britain!

To return to our own vehicle at Hednesford, No. 616.  Since the last article, steady progress has been made, and the lower saloon has been rebuilt inside, and looks quite good.  Work is now progressing on the platform.  This is a slow job, due to a shortage of labour – a common fault in most Preservation Societies.  As the work proceeds, further articles will explain some of the problems and achievements!

No. 433 – Steve Kemp