Tag Archives: Trolley Bus

Some October Events

Chasewater Railway

Trains will be running on the Thursday of half-term week, 28th October, NOT Wednesday as advertised in the leaflet.  The first train will leave Brownhills West at 11.00am.

The Museum of Cannock Chase

During half-term, from Monday 25th till Thursday 28th October,

children are being invited along to arts and crafts sessions full of spooky themes leading up to Halloween.

For more information call the museum on 01543 877666

or visit the website – there is a link in the blogroll.

Walsall Local History Centre

As the Railway Preservation Society once housed a trolley bus at the Hednesford Depot, I thought that some members and others might be interested in the Trolleybus Memories Exhibition at the Walsall Local History Centre, Essex Street, Walsall, marking the 40th anniversary of the end of trolleybus transport in the borough.  Jack Haddock will be showcasing a selection of his prints, including rare and unpublished photos.

This free exhibition will run for three months – details from the Walsall Local History Centre on 01922 721305 or email localhistorycentre@walsall.gov.uk or visit the website – www.walsall.gov.uk/localhistorycentre

Don’t forget Halloween at Chasewater Railway,

Saturday 30th October


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

Trolley Bus No.3 (Not counting Godfrey’s)

More Trolley Bus Stuff – Mercian Jan-Feb 1967 Vol.6 No.1

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

Although the RPS had asked for a trolley bus, this request was unknown to the Wolverhampton Trolley Bus Group.  It was the Transport Department who informed us of the RPS and as a result of this, two of our Group went along to see Mr. D. A. Ives, RPS Secretary – and this incidentally was the beginning of a happy relationship with the RPS – which resulted in some of our group members joining the RPS.

As has previously been mentioned, No. 616 was the choice – and incidentally Wolverhampton Corporation Transport Department towed this vehicle to Hednesford as well as supplying paint and a number of useful spare parts.  It was the original intention to use the vehicle as a cinema but this was found to be impracticable due to the restricted width.

However, restoration commenced and the first task was to give the vehicle a thorough clean and to touch up the paintwork.  It is amazing how much dust and dirt the interior of a trolley bus collects, the cleaning went on for weeks.  Notes were made of all the parts requiring replacement or repair and these parts were salvaged from other scrap trolleys.  It was decided to do the inside first, starting with the upper saloon although the outside is kept in condition by ‘touching up’ regularly.

The seats were removed and all the panelling dismantled.  This was followed by another clean then the entire framework was given a good coating of wood preserver.  The interior panels were similarly treated before being refitted.  The biggest job upstairs was one which we were not prepared for.  That was the rebuilding of the destination box!  The framework of this was completely rotten and with the awkward shaping of the frame, this operation took four months to complete.

Work continued for weeks and weeks with very little to show for our efforts.  However, with the commencement of painting, the whole scene was transformed and within a few weeks the job seemed to be nearly finished.  In fact the whole job will have taken nearly 15 months when it is completed.

The next job is the cab, this will be followed by the lower saloon and finally the platform.  Then we can start on the outside!!

To return to the second vehicle – the one to be exhibited in the Museum of Science and Industry, Birmingham, this vehicle has been the subject of much discussion, and negotiations mainly made by Dr. E. Clark, one of the original members of the Wolverhampton Group, and the next part of this article will deal with this project when the final details are known.  At the time of writing there are only 28 trolley buses on the road – serving the one remaining route from Wolverhampton to Dudley.  However, these were due for conversion to motor buses during last December.Heanor & District Local History Society

Trolley Bus Mercian May-June 1966 5.3

More Trolley Bus Stuff – Mercian May-June 1966 Vol.5 No.3

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

At the time of the ‘Scrap the Trolleys’ announcement, there were about half-a-dozen local enthusiasts.  The matter was discussed and only two of the number showed any real interest in keeping a vehicle, so a fund was started between us.   At this stage it was not known how long the conversion would take or when it would start.  Little did we know that scrapping had already begun.  Four trolley buses were already off due to a subway scheme at the Retail Market.  Birmingham motor buses were being used as replacements while this work was carried out.

When the trolleys resumed operation one route did not go back, this was Oxbarn Avenue.  This route was the one we had never photographed, as is often the case, and even now only a few views exist of vehicles on this section.  Two trolleys (459 and 647) were written off after accident damage, the rush was now on to write off the whole fleet.

Early in 1962 a certain Councillor made statements demanding the ‘removal of these vehicles as quickly as possible’.  This promoted another spate of letters in the local press and as a result of these letters a meeting was arranged between the writers and other enthusiasts.  This time the discussion ranged from trying to stop conversion and saving a trolley or two for museum purposes.  We all knew what chances small groups have against ‘them’; this was agreed by all those at the meeting.  Ever tried to persuade BR to keep a branch line open??  We had seen it all happen before in other towns, first with trams and now trolleys.  The same old arguments of ‘more mobile buses’, ‘can run anywhere’, ‘don’t get held up in traffic’ and so on, being trotted out.

To return to the museum theme, a list of vehicles suitable for preservation was drawn up and discussed.  It was decided to try for two vehicles, one for ourselves and one for the Birmingham Science Museum if they would accept one.  This latter was the idea of Mr. J. C. Brown, one of the two original persons supporting preservation, and Dr. E. R. Clark, who agreed to negotiate with the Museum and the Wolverhampton Transport Department for this vehicle.  Coming to our own vehicle we had to find a suitable site and weeks were spent searching without success, for trolleys are big things and not easily stored.


At this juncture Ald. F. Mansell, Chairman of the Transport Committee, said he would be happy to give away the entire trolley fleet.  The Transport Dept had over 200 applications, one gentleman said he would take the lot; needless to say he was a scrap dealer, as were many of the others.  The RPS applied for one and along with our request received favourable consideration.

More on Trolley Buses

The one who got away!

Not everyone who is a member of Chasewater Railway knows that when we were based in Hednesford, we had a trolley bus.  One member who definitely did know took the following photographs in the 1960s. 

The first one is of his brother sitting in the cab of the trolley bus, and the second is a group of young ladies posing in front of ‘Cannock Wood’ the lady in the centre is our man’s late wife, also a member.  What I would like to know is how did they get away?  Considering the fact that they were visiting the railway, it was to be some 40 years before we got any useful work out of him!  To be fair, he has been worked fairly hard since we did get hold of him – getting the full set – TTI, Guard, Second Man, Diesel Driver and Station Master.

He’s certainly proved his worth in the museum

but we are getting a bit worried about where he wants to go next!!!

Regards to  Godfrey Hucker!

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.