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En-route with some Black Country trolley buses

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 28, 2014

  • A Wolverhampton Corporation trolley bus parked in Lichfield Street circa 1950s

  • Pre-decimalisation Wolverhampton bus tokens

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HERE in the Black Country several different kinds of transport have been a lifeline to the commercial and social development of the region since the first canal was cut and the first railway track was laid down.

A better, safer and more direct means of mobile communication brought towns and villages closer together, enabled goods and services from far and wide to reach a broader customer base, delivered news direct to the front door, and introduced the opportunity of travel to the seaside for thousands of hard working families.

When the automobile took the road system by storm, public transport became the most popular means of travel, first the tram and then the trolley bus, and John Coley of Merridale in Wolverhampton has recollections of the trolley buses in years gone by and a fondness that continues to this day.

John is currently engaged in working on the trolley buses and the tram at the Black Country Living Museum, and spurred on by a feature that appeared in the Bugle back in November 2013, he has sent us the following letter. He told us, "I was a bus conductor in Wolverhampton from 1957 to 1973, based at the Park Lane depot in Wolverhampton, and worked on both trolley and motor buses on most of the routes that were served by this depot. I now help to run the trolleys and tram at the museum, and I suppose it keeps me in touch with my youth. It's a wonderful job to have."

Trolley buses were a familiar sight in Wolverhampton and the surrounding area for 44 years. Quick, quiet and reliable, and best of all providing a comfortable ride, they proved very popular with the townsfolk, and because they were also pollution free, made a positive impact to the air quality in the days of the great smog. Many people feel they should be reintroduced as a replacement for the petrol and diesel buses of today.

Together with his letter John has provided a collection of Wolverhampton Corporation Transport Department tokens ranging from a halfpenny to six pence. He told us, "Although these tokens weren't used on the trolley buses, they were in fact used on ordinary buses, they still add to the history of transport in Wolverhampton. They would have been used by office staff, postmen and children from the Cottage Homes, now part of New Cross Hospital, and were in use until February 1971."

The two photographs John has supplied shows trolley bus FJW 482 (registered in 1949) parked at a stop in Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, and a familiar sight to visitors of the Black Country Museum, trolley bus DVK 433 (registered in 1949.

Can you remember working or travelling on the Wolverhampton trolley buses? If so email editor@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or phone 01384 567678 with your memories.

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