During 2006, John Zebedee researched the details of all the British trolleybuses preserved in Britain. He published his findings early in 2007. This is what he found.
Many of us are familiar with the museums having operating trolleybuses. For the record, these are the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley, East Anglia Transport Museum, Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft and The Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft, near Doncaster.
It is also possible to operate trolleybuses at The North of England Open Air Museum at Beamish. However, this museum is designed to depict an earlier era than that of the trolleybus; the usual sole trolleybus at this location is not normally seen in operation by the public. This vehicle is Newcastle Corporation 501 which has been on loan to Sandtoft since July 2005 and is now due to remain until 2011.
A number of other transport museums around the country house trolleybuses as static exhibits. Many others are owned by individuals or small groups and are kept at locations which are generally not open to the public. There is some fluidity in the situation as vehicles are moved around from time to time; either for renovation at a specific location or for operation at an event at one of the working museums. The three museums mentioned previously all hold special events at various times and welcome participation of visiting vehicles.
An article on Ipswich Transport Museum appears elsewhere. Further articles will be published on those museums that are open to the public. As well as the movement of vehicles there is also one museum which was due to relocate during 2006 and London Transport Museum is closed for refurbishment until late in 2007. Timing of the publication of these articles will be crucial.
In researching this article, the first question that arises is not where they are but exactly how many are there? Sandtoft houses by far the most with 45. Whatever number I come up with, I am sure some people will disagree, question it, or tell me I have got it all completely wrong! For a vehicle to be counted as a trolleybus it must comprise of both chassis and bodywork, even if bits have rusted away or dropped off. Electrical equipment is an optional extra! There are several chassis only in preservation and the odd body – these are not included. However, I think the total is 114? Surprising isn’t it?
Several vehicles are preserved overseas, although most are in a later guise. It is not the intention to include these in the series. News of overseas museums is always welcome for the Museum and Preservation column.
An updated table of results can be viewed here.