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Johannesburg BUT Heads For The Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft!

Article by Dave Chick

Johannesburg 589 arrived in Britain on Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines’ “roll on – roll off” vessel MV Talia on Friday 24 April. It was then towed to temporary storage in Berkshire pending the finalising of restoration plans.

Two members of the Johannesburg 589 Group, John Shearman and Francis Whitehead, had flown to Durban on 22 March 2009 to undertake an initial assessment of the vehicle’s condition before deciding whether to proceed with the project and prepare 589 for its journey to the UK.

Over the next few days much remedial and tidying up work took place on 589, final arrangements for the shipping – including appointing a shipping agent –were made, agreement for filming in the dock area was confirmed and the tow from 589’s temporary storage at a Durban City Council depot to the port was arranged.

The tow to the docks took place on Sunday morning, 29 March, and was duly photographed and videoed. After some last moment ‘red tape’ problems on the quayside the following day, 589 was finally put on board Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines’ ‘roll on – roll off’ vessel MVTalia at about 4.00pm, ready for a scheduled departure at 2.00am the following morning.

The Johannesburg 589 Group has been set up to be the Project Manager for The Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft to oversee 589’s acquisition and transfer to the UK, and to then manage the fundraising, restoration, maintenance and general ‘well-being’ of the vehicle in preservation.

The Johannesburg 589 Group consists of enthusiasts from different sectors of the trolleybus preservation movement working together to further the project.

We are honoured to report that the family of the late John Gillham, the well known and well respected transport historian, agreed that instead of flowers at his funeral, donations should be given to the Johannesburg 589 fund. John, aged 91, was extremely enthusiastic about the scheme to obtain no. 589 for preservation in the UK and was keenly following developments in the planning of the project, almost wanting to be part of the party going to Durban ! Sadly, John passed away peacefully the day that John Shearman and Francis Whitehead left for Durban.

For further information and for details of how to contribute to the 589 fund please see the project’s website:

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