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British Trolleybus Systems - London and South-East England (ePub)

An Historic Overview

Colour eBooks Photographic eBooks Transport > Buses Transport > London Transport World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Peter Waller
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Series: British Trolleybus Systems
File Size: 49.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 136
ISBN: 9781526770653
Published: 6th July 2022


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Although there had been experiments with the use of a new form of transport - the ‘trackless tram’ (better known as the trolleybus) - during the first decade of the 20th century, it was in June 1911 that Bradford and Leeds became the country’s pioneering operators of trolleybuses. There had been earlier experimental users – in places like Hove and London – and as the tide turned against the tram in many towns and cities, the trolleybus became a popular alternative with London becoming, for a period, the world’s largest operator of trolleybuses. This volume – one of four that examines the history of all trolleybus operators in the British Isles – focuses on London and the other systems of south-east England.

As featured

Tramways & Urban Transit, Light Rail Transit Association - December 2022

Peter Waller has amassed an extensive portfolio of bus and railway titles, this volume being the first of four that between them, cover all the trolleybus operators throughout the British Isles.

Overall, this volume serves not only as a record of transport history, but also as a social and cultural chronicle.

Highly recommended.

Archive - The Quarterly Journal for British Industrial and Transport History 

Public transport historians will find this, one of four volumes covering all of the trolleybus operators throughout the British Isles, to be a useful means of reference as well as a social history record.

An interesting aspect of this book is the many different types of trolleybus, both single and double deckers there were in service, not only in South-East England but throughout the United Kingdom. This and its companion volumes offer an intriguing aspect into the country's public transport.

SAHB Times Issue 111, Winter 2022-2023 (published by the Society of Automotive Historians in Britain)

The second volume in the author’s four part series on Britain’s trolleybus systems follows the same format as that used previously, ie a general introduction followed by narrative and illustrated chapters on each of the systems covered, including summaries of the vehicles used and their routes. In the case of the present volume, eight locations are featured, with about ten pages devoted to each, except for London which, being the largest network, is allocated nearly fifty pages.

This reviewer is old enough to have travelled on two of the systems covered, and memories of the rapid acceleration of the London Q1s and Bournemouth’s well-proportioned final Sunbeams made a lasting impression. The book provides a potted history of the origins, development and eventual closure of each of the systems, along with a good selection of illustrations in both black and white and colour. It is probably true to say that the chapter on the Southend system will provide new material for most readers, as its early demise in 1954 seems to have meant that much less material about it has been featured in previous publications.

As with the first volume, the illustrations do much to enliven the story of each system, and some especially fine colour images are included. Many of these were taken in bright sunlight and emanate from a variety of photographers whose work is now in the care of the Online Transport Archive. Particularly memorable images include the ‘South African’ trolleybuses of Barking in East London, a Reading six wheeler negotiating the tight turning circle at the Wokingham Road terminus, the busy Aquarium terminus at Brighton, and a fine view of an ancient Guy BTX single decker in the depot at Hastings.

A very useful and well produced book.

West Somerset Railway Association

Tramfare readers will be familiar with author Peter Waller as he has compiled many ‘picture books’ on trams. He now brings us a new series of four books from publishers Pen & Sword.

The books are well produced, quite a useful addition to the tram enthusiast’s library, to acquire at a modest cost some brief details of these sister vehicles.

Tramfare magazine 330 (January-February 2023) - Tramway and Light Railway Society

Following on from the Yorkshire book reviewed last month, we now have London and the South East. The London system is well documented, but there were 7 other systems in the south east of England, and they are all covered here.

As before, there is lots of fascinating detail, and atmospheric photos of the buses in their natural environment. One lovely photo shows a demonstration of the flexibility of trolleybuses, with a Maidstone bus passing a horse and cart which is parked on tram tracks. There are route maps and lists of routes, and details of the fleets. This is a good quality book with endless fascinating things to look at.

PSV Circle (Buses) - August 2022

About Peter Waller

Brought up in Bradford, PETER WALLER grew up as the city’s trolleybus network gradually declined. In 1986 he commenced a career in publishing working for a number of years as Ian Allan Ltd publishing books, where he oversaw the commissioning and publication of a wide range of books. The first book he wrote was British and Irish Tramway Systems since 1945, in 1992. Since then he has written a number of transport books, moving to Shropshire where he is a director and secretary of the Online Transport Archive, vice-chairman of the West Shropshire Talking Newspaper, a committee member of the National Railway Heritage Awards and a past president of Rotary Club of Shrewsbury. He became a Council member of the National Transport Trust in 2020.

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