Tag Archives: 616

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.

Did you know that we once had a Trolley Bus?

First printed in Mercian March-April 1966 Vol.5 No.2

The Odd Man Out at Hednesford –  J. Hughes.

March 1964 saw the arrival of the odd vehicle in the form of Wolverhampton Corporation Trolley-bus 616.

This vehicle was a gift to the RPS by the Corporation of Wolverhampton to whom it was always known as ‘Groaner’ because of the double differential rear axle – it was the only one so fitted.  At Hednesford it is known as ‘The Trolley’.  No.616 was delivered to the Wolverhampton Corporation Transport Department on March 9th 1949 as one of 99 new Sunbeam and Guy trolley buses of similar design.  This order was destined to be the last one placed for new trolley buses, and when all the new vehicles were on the road all but a dozen or so of the pre-war fleet were withdrawn for scrap.

No. 616 continued in service without any serious accident or major body alterations for the next fourteen years, indeed the only body alteration was the substitution of winking indicators in place of trafficators and the removal of the shields from the trolley buses on the roof.

In 1961 the blow was struck when Wolverhampton Town Council decided to ‘write off’ the entire trolley bus system and replace it with diesel powered buses.  At this time there were 153 trolley buses operating on twelve routes.  These included the entire 1949 batch plus some war-time vehicles which had been fitted with new bodies, some were being done when the controversial plan was announced.

Needless to say the local papers were full of letters ‘for and against’ the trolley bus system, and it was at this stage that the enthusiasts got together to try and arrange some kind of preservation scheme.