1933: The Launch of a Trolleybus System in England

May 13, 1933

A trolleybus system made its debut in the resort town of Bournemouth on England’s southern coast. The new system was formally inaugurated by John Robert Edgecombe, the lord mayor of Bournemouth. The first of those trolleybuses to go into service was driven by William Biddlecombe. Over the next few years, this trolleybus system gradually replaced the tramway network that had operated in Bournemouth since 1902.

At its peak, the Bournemouth trolleybus system encompassed 104 vehicles and 22 routes operating in both that community and the surrounding area. This transit service was second only to the trolleybus network in London as the largest system of its kind in southern England.

One of the more unique features of the Bournemouth trolleybus system was the structure known as the Christchurch trolleybus turntable. This manually operated turntable, which was introduced in 1936, was used to turn around all of the trolleybuses terminating at Church Street in the nearby borough and town of Christchurch. That turntable is widely believed to be one of only five throughout the world that have been built and used for trolleybuses.

The Bournemouth trolleybus system remained in operation until being phased out altogether in 1969. On the system’s final day of service, a farewell procession consisting of 17 trolleybuses made its way through Bournemouth. Those driving the vehicles that day included Biddlecombe. Hundreds of people were hand for the procession, either as passengers on the trolleybuses or as spectators along the route.

Several of the trolleybuses have been maintained in their distinctive yellow and maroon livery and can be seen today at various museums. Two of the trolleybuses are at the East Anglia Transport Museum in the English civil parish and suburb of Carlton Colville, two other trolleybuses can be found at the Trolleybus Museum at Santoft on the Isle of Axholme in England; and another one of those vehicles is part of the collection at the National Transport Museum of Ireland.

Photo Credit: Alan Murray-Rust (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license at Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic — CC BY-SA 2.0)

For more information on the Bournemouth trolleybus system, please check out Trolleybuses in Bournemouth – Wikipedia

Videos featuring those trolleybuses are available at Bournemouth Trolleybuses.mpg – YouTube and Bournemouth Trolley buses 1960s – YouTube  

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