|Locale||Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England|
|Open||16 October 1925|
|Close||28 October 1954|
|Operator(s)||Southend Corporation Transport|
The Southend-on-Sea trolleybus system once served the town of Southend-on-Sea, in Essex, England. Opened on 16 October 1925, it gradually replaced Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways.
Southend-on-Sea Corporation had operated a tramway system in the town and surrounding districts since 1901, which had been steadily extended to cover 9.22 miles (14.84 km) by 1914. The town also became a county borough in 1914. The tramways had been authorised by a succession of Light Railway Orders, and was managed by a Light Railways Committee. Once World War I was over, the committee looked at ways to meet the transport needs of the increasing number of residents and visitors to the seaside town in the early 1920s. They considered building tramways on reserved rights-of-way, and the introduction of trolleybuses. There was a particular need to improve the service between Victoria Circus and Prittlewell, which was provided by a single track tramway. A report was submitted by the electrical engineer in 1923, and members of the Committee visited Birmingham, where a trolleybus system had begun operating on 27 November 1922.
The committee were sufficiently impressed by the Birmingham system, that they decided to supplement the trams on the service to Prittlewell with trolleybuses, for a trial period of 12 months. They contacted the Railless Electric Traction Company of Leeds, who agreed to provide two trolleybuses on loan, and to erect the overhead wiring. This incorporated a turning circle at Victoria Circus, and a reversing triangle at West Street in Prittlewell. The vehicles supplied had a single deck built on a low chassis with a central entrance. They were fitted with a 35 hp (26 kW) motor supplied by Dick, Kerr & Co, and a cam controller operated by a foot pedal, manufactured by English Electric. They were similar in design to vehicles supplied to Ashton-under-Lyne and West Hartlepool, but had an open drivers cab, which gave them a neater appearance. Operation on the Prittlewell route began on 16 October 1925.
The experiment was deemed to be a success, and the Corporation bought the two vehicles from Railless. Trams ceased to be used on the Prittlewell route from 4 March 1927, and the fleet of trolleybuses was expanded by buying an Associated Equipment Company single deck vehicle which had previously run in Leeds, together with the first double deck vehicle, which was obtained from Richard Garrett & Sons of Leiston, Suffolk. The Prittlewell route was extended to Priory Park in early 1929. A route to the seafront was also planned, which would follow roads where there was no tramway service. It ran along White Gate Road to Bankside and opened on 12 December 1928. Further progress towards the seafront was hampered by a low railway bridge, but powers to run along Seaway to Marine Parade and the Kursaal amusement park were obtained in May 1929, and lowering of the roadway beneath the bridge began immediately, so that the new route could be completed in time for the influx of visitors at August bank holiday. The work was inspected by the Ministry of Transport on 1 August, and trolleybuses began running to the Kursaal on 2 August.
To run the service, five more Garrett trolleybuses were obtained, fitted with double deck bodies, capable of seating 60 passengers, and powered by 60 hp (45 kW) Bull motors with British Thompson-Houston control gear. The overhead wires on the seafront were galvanised, in an attempt to resist attack by salt water, and this proved successful, as it was used elsewhere on the system. The possibility of extending the system westwards from Prittlewell was soon proposed, and the Corporation obtained an Act of Parliament in 1930, which authorised an additional nine routes. The first of these to open was some 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long, running along Fairfax Drive from Priory Park in the east to the borough boundary in the west, on which services began on 21 January 1932. The second ran eastwards from Victoria Circus along Guildford Road and North Avenue to Hamstel Road. It was a similar length and opened on 31 July 1932. The Corporation negotiated a co-ordinated scheme with the local bus company, which meant that the new trolleybus routes were free from competition by motor buses.
With trolleybuses now operating on a route mileage of about 5 miles (8 km), the general manager suggested that other types of vehicle should be tried out, before further routes were opened, and accordingly an order was placed with English Electric in 1930 for two double-deck three-axle vehicles, which became numbers 110 and 111. They had a passenger entrance at the rear, and an exit at the front, which improved the speed at which passengers could be unloaded when the service was busy. Two years later, a batch of four two-axle vehicles were purchased from the same manufacturer. These had lowbridge bodywork, with an offset sunken gangway on the upper deck, which was thought to make the vehicles more stable, and might enable them to run on new routes which included low bridges. Unusually, the trolleybuses had a full front with a dummy radiator, making them look like motor buses. A further batch of five similar vehicles were ordered in 1933, and many continued in service almost to the end of operations, although they were altered cosmetically by the removal of the radiator. The Corporation also took delivery of an English Electric demonstrator in May 1932. This had been tried out in Bradford and London before being displayed at the Commercial Motor Transport Exhibition in 1931. It had three axles, and staircases at the front and rear, with the front exit featuring a twin-hinged door. It had a half cab and a radiator, but was rebuilt with a full front and no radiator soon after 1945. It was numbered 116 in the fleet, but in 1951 it ceased to be used in passenger service, and was converted to a mobile toilet.
Southend owned some other unusual vehicles. Number 122 was another demonstrator, which had been exhibited at the London Commercial Motor Show in 1933.It was then loaded to the Corporation, before they actually bought it. It was a 2-axle double deck vehicle, with a centre entrance, and was the only trolleybus ever built by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company. Number 123 was also a rarity, being one of only five 'Q' type trolleybuses built by the Associated Equipment Company (AEC). It featured a front entrance, and had seating for 56 passengers.
In 1933, Shoeburyness, located to the east of Southend, became part of the Borough, and there were proposals to extend the trolleybus network along the seafront from the Kursaal to Thorpe Bay and on to Shoeburyness. On 21 June 1934, the seafront route was extended westwards a little, to the pier head, and the Corporation obtained a Provisional Order to allow the construction of the route eastwards. Other work was in progress, and the Fairfax Drive route to the west was extended to Chalkwell Schools, which was also served by the tramway running along London Road. By 1936, more than 8.5 million journeys a year were being made by trolleybus, and the fleet at the time consisted of 21 double deck vehicles.Plans to discontinue operation of the tramway network were approved in 1938, and in 1939 the Southend-on-Sea Trolley Order made provision for running trolleybuses along all the former tramway routes. Six more vehicles were obtained from AEC, and it was hoped that the changeover from trams to trolleybuses could be completed by the spring of 1941. However, such plans were affected by the outbreak of the Second World War, and although 36 more trolleybuses were ordered to allow for the conversion and the extension to Shoeburyness, delivery was to be made "when conditions permitted".
The 36 new trolleybuses were never delivered. Trams had been replaced on the route from the Kursaal to Thorpe Bay in 1939, with the last tram running on 27 May. The corporation only intended to use trolleybuses on this route in the summer months, and the extension out to Shoeburyness was serviced by motor buses. When the war started, the trolleybuses were withdrawn from the sea-front route. The hostilities also saw a reprieval for the tramway system, if only briefly. The corporation argued that because the replacement had been scheduled for early 1941, essential maintenance had not been carried out, and if the tramways were to be retained for any length of time, considerable expenditure would be needed to put them back into good order. They obtained the consent of the Ministry of War Transport in 1941, and decided to replace the trams as soon as possible. It was not feasible to obtain enough trolleybuses to run the full service, and so parts of the tramway network would be replaced by motor buses. The last tram ran on 8 April 1942, and although the overhead wiring was altered to allow trolleybuses to run along the London Road to Chalkwell Schools, with the new section forming part of a circular route with the existing line along Fairfax Drive, there was a lengthy delay between the end of the trams and the start of the trolleybuses. Motor buses worked the section from Chalkwell Schools to Leigh. Part of the route eastwards to Southchurch began operating in 1943, and this formed another circular route when trolleybuses began operating along Hamstel Road to link up with the North Avenue route. The route from Southchurch to Thorpe Bay, where trams had run on a reserved track rather than on roads had been replaced by motor buses in 1938.
By the standards of the various now-defunct trolleybus systems in the United Kingdom, the Southend system was a moderately sized one, with a total of four routes, and a maximum fleet of 34 trolleybuses. 28 October 1954. None of the former Southend trolleybuses is recorded as having been preserved.The system was closed relatively early, on
|Fleet numbers||Configuration||In service||Withdrawn||Chassis||Electrical equipment||Bodywork|
|1-2||Single deck 2-axle||1925||1933||Railless Electric Co||English Electric||Short B34C|
|103||Single deck 2-axle||1927||by 1938||AEC 603||BTH||Strachan B30F|
|104||Double deck 2-axle||1928||1939||Garrett OS||English Electric||Garrett L30/25R|
|105-109||Double deck 2-axle||1929||1939||Garrett OS||English Electric||Garrett H32/28R|
|110-111||Double deck 3-axle||1930||1940||English Electric||English Electric||English Electric H30/26D|
|112-115||Double deck 2-axle||1932||1948-54||AEC 661T||English Electric||English Electric L24/24R|
|116||Double deck 3-axle||1932||1951||AEC 663T||English Electric||English Electric H31/24D|
|117-121||Double deck 2-axle||1933||1948-54||AEC 661T||English Electric||English Electric L24/24R|
|122||Double deck 2-axle||1934||unknown||Gloucester TDD||Crompton-West||Gloucester L54C|
|123||Double deck 2-axle||1935||1950?||AEC 'Q' 761T||English Electric||English Electric L26/30F|
|124-129||Double deck 2-axle||1939||1954||AEC 661T||English Electric||Strachan H30/26R|
|130||Double deck 2-axle||1945||1953||Sunbeam W||BTH||Brush UH30/26R|
|131-138||Double deck 2-axle||1945||1953||Sunbeam W||BTH||Park Royal UH30/26R|
|139-143||Single deck 2-axle||1946||1953||Leyland TB3||GEC||Massey B32R|
|144-152||Double deck 2-axle||1950||1954||Sunbeam MF2||BTH||Park Royal H28/26R|
The Chesterfield and District Tramways Company and its successors ran a tramway system in the Derbyshire town of Chesterfield, England. The first horse-drawn line opened in 1882, and in 1897, the system was taken over by Chesterfield Corporation, who extended and electrified it in 1904 and 1905. Additional tramcars were purchased, but two had to be scrapped after a disastrous fire at the depot in 1916. The system suffered from a lack of maintenance as a result of reduced staffing levels during the First World War, and the trams were replaced by trolleybuses in 1927.
The Mexborough and Swinton Traction Company was the name adopted by the Mexborough & Swinton Tramways Company in 1929 following the introduction of trolleybuses on all its routes. It operated in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, over routes serving Manvers Main Colliery, Wath upon Dearne and the towns of Rotherham, Rawmarsh, Swinton, Mexborough, Conisbrough and the estate at Conanby.
Dundee Corporation Tramways formerly served the City of Dundee in Scotland. The corporation had financed the construction of a horse tramway in 1877, but had then leased it to the Dundee and District Tramways Company. They had replaced most of the horse trams with steam tram locomotives pulling trailer cars from 1884, but in 1897 the corporation decided that it would run the tramway system itself. After some negotiation and the payment of compensation, they took over the system in 1899, with a view to electrifying it. Electric trams started running in 1900, and the changeover was completed in 1902.
The Wolverhampton trolleybus system served the city of Wolverhampton, then in Staffordshire, England, for much of the twentieth century.
The Rotherham trolleybus system once served the town of Rotherham, West Riding of Yorkshire, England. Opened on 3 October 1912, it was the fourth trolleybus system to be established in the United Kingdom, after the systems in nearby Bradford and Leeds, which had opened simultaneously in 1911, and Dundee earlier in 1912. Between 1912 and 1949, the Rotherham system gradually replaced the Rotherham Tramway.
The Nottingham trolleybus system once served the city of Nottingham, in the county of Nottinghamshire, England. Opened on 10 April 1927, it gradually replaced the Nottingham tramway network.
The Reading trolleybus system served the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire and was owned by Reading Corporation, who had operated an electric tramway since 1901. As there was a need for major refurbishment of the tramway in the 1930s, they decided to replace it with a trolleybus network. The first route was converted on 18 July 1936, and by mid 1939, trolleybuses were running over most of the tramway routes, with the last tram running on 20 May. By the standards of the various now-defunct trolleybus systems in the United Kingdom, the Reading system was a moderately sized one, with a total of four routes, and a maximum fleet of 63 trolleybuses, a size that lasted from 1 December 1950 to 27 March 1952.
The Walsall trolleybus system once served the town of Walsall, then in Staffordshire, but now in West Midlands, England. Opened on 22 July 1931, it gradually replaced the Walsall Corporation Tramways network.
The Ipswich trolleybus system once served Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk, England. Opened on 2 September 1923, it gradually replaced the Ipswich tramway network.
The Grimsby trolleybus system once served the seaport of Grimsby, in Lincolnshire, England. Opened on 3 October 1926, it gradually replaced part of the Great Grimsby Street Tramways, a tramway that had served both Grimsby and the neighbouring holiday resort of Cleethorpes. It was closed on 4 June 1960.
The Cleethorpes trolleybus system once served the holiday resort of Cleethorpes, in Lincolnshire, England. Opened on 18 July 1937, it replaced part of the Great Grimsby Street Tramways, a tramway that had served both Cleethorpes and the neighbouring seaport of Grimsby. It was closed on 4 June 1960.
The Doncaster trolleybus system once served the town of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. Opened on 22 August 1928, it gradually replaced the Doncaster Corporation Tramways. By the standards of the various now-defunct trolleybus systems in the United Kingdom, the Doncaster system was a moderately sized one, with a total of 6 routes, all radiating out from the town centre, and a maximum fleet of 47 trolleybuses. The Bentley route was the first to close, on 12 February 1956, and the Beckett Road route was the last to go, on 14 December 1963.
Southend-on-Sea Corporation Tramways served the town of Southend-on-Sea in Essex from 19 July 1901 until 8 April 1942.
Aberdare Urban District Council Tramways operated a tramway service in Aberdare between 1913 and 1935. It was the only system in the United Kingdom which consisted of a tramway with feeder services run by trolleybuses from the start. The trolleybuses used the Austrian Cedes-Stoll system, and became increasingly difficult to maintain. Parts of the trolleybus network were converted to tramways in the early 1920s, and the rest stopped operating in 1925, when no trolleybuses were available for service. The tramway continued for another ten years, but was closed in 1934 and 1935 as a result of a downturn in the prosperity of Aberdare, due to collieries closing and the population dwindling. Motor buses took over the local services once the tramway had closed.
Wigan Corporation Tramways operated a tramway service in Wigan, England, between 1901 and 1931. The first tramway service in the town was run by the Wigan Tramways Company, whose horse trams began carrying passengers in 1880. They began replacing horses with steam tram locomotives from 1882, but the company failed in 1890 when a Receiver was appointed to manage it. The Wigan & District Tramways Company took over the system in 1893 and ran it until 1902. Meanwhile, Wigan Corporation were planning their own tramway system, obtaining an authorising Act of Parliament in 1893, and a second one in 1898. This enabled them to build electric tramways, and in 1902, they took over the lines of the Wigan & District Tramways Company.
Pontypridd Urban District Council Tramways operated a tramway service in Pontypridd between 1904 and 1931. Part of it used the route of the Pontypridd and Rhondda Valley Tramway Company's horse tramway. Between 1919 and 1927, it was the only system in Wales where through running onto a neighbouring system occurred. In 1930, part of the system was converted to use trolleybuses, and the former horse tramway section was replaced by motor buses in 1931, bringing the tramway era to an end. During the Second World War, a number of trolleybuses were borrowed from other systems, to cope with heavy traffic, but the use of electric vehicles ended in 1957. Most of the vehicles were sold on to other undertakings, and the system was the last in Britain to be run by an Urban District Council.
Rhondda Tramways Company operated a tramway service in Rhondda, Wales, between 1904 and 1934.
Halifax Corporation Tramways operated a tramway service in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England between 1898 and 1939. After considering lifts and inclined planes to assist trams in negotiating the steep hills to the south of the town, they obtained permission to build a conventional system in 1897, and the first three routes opened in 1898. By 1905 there were 37 miles (60 km) of track and 96 tramcars, supplied by two manufacturers. In 1921, an additional route was added to the system, and the Corporation embarked on a programme of building their own tramcars, some of which replaced existing vehicles, while some extended the fleet. During the 1930s, the trams were gradually replaced by motor buses, either run by the Corporation or by private companies, and the last tram ran on 14 February 1939.
Stockport Corporation Tramways operated a tramway service in Stockport, England, between 1901 and 1951. It was preceded by a horse tramway from Levenshulme to Stockport, which opened in 1880, and was ultimately run by the Manchester Carriage and Tramways Company. A second independent horse tramway opened in 1890, running to Hazel Grove. In 1899 the Corporation bought the first line, electrified it, and leased it back to the operating company. Their powers to buy the Stockport and Hazel Grove Tramway, authorised by the same Act of Parliament, were not exercised until 1905.
Railless is the generic name for three companies which made trolleybuses in Britain between 1906 and 1926. Railless Electric Traction Co Ltd was established in 1908, and were at the forefront of the introduction of trolleybuses to Britain. Financial difficulties in 1911 resulted in RET Construction Co Ltd being formed, to take over the business, goodwill and patents of Railless Electric Traction. This company ran out of orders during the First World War, and went into receivership. Charles H. Roe took over the bodywork part of the business, using RET's works in Leeds, and the goodwill and patents were sold to Railless Ltd, a new company which had been set up by Short Bros Ltd, and manufacture of the chassis transferred to their Seaplane works at Rochester, Kent.
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