Join the British Trolleybus Society – Why & How to Join
The Benefits of Membership
- Become part of a group of like-minded enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the trolleybus history of the UK and restoring preserved trolleybuses to operating condition.
- Receive Trolleybus, the BTS monthly magazine – news of the Society, articles on former UK systems or on modern trolleybuses around the world, international news updates and all the news in the museum and preservation world, with colour photographs throughout.
- Attend monthly meetings of the BTS and affiliated organisations.
- Receive a monthly News and Events newsletter with wider transport news and events
- Join the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft at a reduced rate.
- Receive (at extra cost) our monthly magazine Bus Fare
British Trolleybus Society Publications
The British Trolleybus Society produces two publications which are included in the membership subscription – Trolleybus and News & Events – as well as one other title available for an additional subscription – Bus Fare.
Trolleybus is the flagship publication of the British Trolleybus Society. Produced monthly and edited by British Trolleybus Society chairman Dave Chick, Trolleybus contains 20 pages of regular articles on trolleybus history, of modern trolleybus operation and the preservation of historic trolleybuses around the world, and news forthcoming meetings and trolleybus-related events. The Society has achieved more than 61 years of unbroken monthly publication of its journal. Click the highlighted links to have a look at a couple of past issues of Trolleybus: May 2022 and August 2022.
News and Events
News and Events is a monthly British Trolleybus Society newsletter which is edited by Paul Dicken. It is a compendium of trolleybus and other transport- related news and events, both those that have taken place and forthcoming events for the next month or so. News and Events is also circulated to members of the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft and contains news related to the Museum. This is distributed to members of British Trolleybus Society and the Trolleybus Museum who have provided e-mail addresses, it is not produced in a printed form
British Trolleybus Society members have the option of taking out an add-on subscription to Bus Fare. Bus Fare is produced monthly, edited by James Cusworth, and gives details of road passenger transport news from the Thames and Kennet Valleys
How to Join the BTS
Click here, select Please Register Here,complete the form and pay by PayPal. If you prefer to pay by cheque or bank transfer, download and print the form here and return it by post.
Whichever method you choose, please consider adding a donation. As we are a charity (no 1033666), we encourage all members who pay income tax to complete a Gift Aid form which enables us to claim back 25% from HMRC any amount that has been paid by any member on their membership subscription or donations to the Society’s funds.
Membership Rates 2022-2023
How to Renew Membership of the BTS
Simply click on the Members tab above, then log in with your username and password. Click on Join/Renew and select the class of membership you wish to renew. You can then click on Checkout and pay by PayPal or send a cheque.
Sponsortrolley is a scheme enabling members who wish to see their favourite trolleybus or trolleybuses restored and operating at Sandtoft (or elsewhere) to donate a regular sum of money every month towards that end. David Beach at would be happy to hear from you at email@example.com if you would like to sponsor a vehicle. Download a Sponsortrolley Form here.
We have been able to restore the majority of our trolleybuses to running order but there are ongoing costs. The restored vehicle must be housed inside safely in dry conditions. SponsorTrolley makes this possible by covering such costs.
Sponsors will see their name on the list of vehicle supporters (unless they prefer to remain anonymous) and will have the satisfaction that they are helping to secure the future of an historic vehicle.
Members can sponsor a vehicle for a year for a minimum annual donation of £60 or £5 per month by standing order. Additional amounts are welcomed. These donations can be Gift Aided. Such a donation, with Gift Aid, would come very close to funding safe storage of the vehicle for one month each year. Additional amounts are welcomed.
For more details, please email David Beach at firstname.lastname@example.org
The History of the British Trolleybus Society
Our Origins In April 1961. fourteen trolleybus enthusiasts met together to create the Reading Transport Society (RTS), initially with the objective of buying a vintage 1939 AEC trolleybus which was due to be retired by Reading Corporation Transport (RCT) later that year. Their dream was realised in September 1961 when RCT trolleybus 113 was successfully purchased for preservation, the first trolleybus in Britain to be privately preserved. Although the RTS was established as a local Society, membership spread nationwide rapidly.
With trolleybuses fast disappearing from UK streets in the 1960s it was not long before other trolleybuses were added to the preserved fleet which was kept in outside storage at a coach depot in the south of Reading. South Shields 204, Bournemouth 99 and Cardiff 203 had joined Reading 113 by 1964. Tours of the remaining systems were arranged for members and the strength of the Society membership was such that it set about trying to convince the remaining UK trolleybus operators that trolleybuses were worth retaining, particularly for environmental reasons. Sadly, this was not a priority at that time and all systems were closed by 1972.
Against a background of trolleybus systems being abandoned at an alarming rate and the number of trolleybuses in preservation growing rapidly, the search was on to find suitable land in which to build an operational trolleybus museum to run the preserved fleet. The breakthrough came in 1969 when an old airfield at Sandtoft (between Doncaster and Scunthorpe) was purchased and, with the involvement of other transport enthusiast groups, the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft was born. At the same time we expanded our horizons and introduced a regular report on trolleybus developments throughout the world in our journal Trolleybus.
The last trolleybus to operate in public service within the UK ran in Bradford in March 1972 but it was only a matter of a few months after that the first trolleybus ran at Sandtoft. Since that time our Society has played a full part in the growth of the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft, a museum held in high regard throughout the bus enthusiast circle as well as by educational establishments.
It was increasingly evident that the name of the Society did not reflect the national scope of its work and its specific focus on trolleybuses. Following a Members’ competition and a subsequent ballot, the Reading Transport Society became the British Trolleybus Society on 29 April 1971.
Significant anniversaries are an opportunity to showcase our vehicles. To celebrate our 45th anniversary and to commemorate 70 years since trolleybuses commenced operations in Reading, we staged a very successful ‘Reading Trolleybuses Recalled’ event at the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft over the Spring Bank Holiday 2006.where we managed to operate five vintage Reading trolleybuses together with 6 contemporary Reading motorbuses. At the Museum’s 40th anniversary in 2009, seven of the 17 trolleybuses operated that weekend were from the BTS fleet. In 2011 the British Trolleybus Society celebrated its 50th anniversary with many events taking place between April and July that year. This was repeated in 2022 (a year later due to the Covid pandemic) for our 60th anniversary.
Our trolleybus fleet is gradually being restored with, so far, Reading 113, Glasgow TB78, London 1812, Bournemouth 99,South Shields 204, Cardiff 203, Manchester 1344, Walsall 872 and Huddersfield 631. Bournemouth 301 is the latest vehicle currently being restored.
In 2017 we purchased additional land at Sandtoft in conjuction with the TM@S and plans are now in hand to expand the museum significantly over the next 10 years. This land purchase also ensures a long term fuure for our preserved trolleybus fleet.
The History of the Reading Transport Society (RTS) 1961 - 1971
and the early years of the British Trolleybus Society
The history of the Reading Transport Society, which subsequently became the British Trolleybus Society, from 1961 to 1971, is presented as a set of PDF files to download, extracted from the Trolleybus magazine in which they were published.
The Reading Transport Society
- Chapter 1 - - Setting the Scene
- Chapter 2 - - The Growth of the RTS
- Chapter 3 - - The Preservation Movement Gathers Pace
- Chapter 4 - - The Search for a Permanent Home
- Chapter 5 - - Trials & Tribulations!
- Chapter 6 - - The Fight to Save The Reading Trolleybus System
- Chapter 7 - - The Lull Before the Storm
- Chapter 8 - - The Trolleybus Preservation Movement Begins to Move Forward
- Chapter 9 - - Towards the First Operational Trolleybus Museum
- Chapter 10 - Planning the Finalé of the Reading Trolleybus System
- Chapter 11 - 1968 - A Bittersweet Year
- Chapter 12 - The Dream Becomes Reality
- Chapter 13 - A Busy Period
- Chapter 14 - The End of the Beginning