113 was one of a batch of 25 vehicles delivered to Reading Corporation Transport between December 1938 and April 1939. These vehicles had highbridge bodywork for which special dispensation had to be obtained from the Ministry of Transport because of the restricted space between the bus and the wires under the railway bridges in Oxford Road and Caversham Road. To keep the vehicles as low as possible the motors were fitted in a non-standard position to enable the floor line to be lowered.
Following delivery these vehicles were stored at Mill Lane depot until 21 May 1939 when they entered service, replacing trams on the main line route between Pond House and London Road/Wokingham Road. They were used predominantly on the main line services between Tilehurst and Wokingham Road or Kentwood and Liverpool Road throughout their lives although they occasionally strayed onto the Whitley services.
Like most vehicles in this batch, 113 received a number of modifications during its life. The lower rear end was redesigned in the mid-1940s which saw the registration plate consisting of raised numerals under a glass plate located just below the rear platform window removed and replaced by a hand-written plate lower down towards the offside, thus allowing space for an advert to be displayed. The front upper deck opening windows and some of those on the upper deck on both nearside and offside were replaced by plain glass on most vehicles in the early 1950s. The rear two-tier bumper originally fitted was removed in 1955 following complaints from crews that they sometimes received electric shocks when taking out the retriever pole. From new all these vehicles carried two small blue lights just beneath the front upper deck windows, but these were removed in the mid-1950s.
113 was one of only 7 of these vehicles to remain in service throughout the period between 1939 and 1961 and was the last to be withdrawn in September 1961. It was purchased by the Reading Transport Society (now BTS), the first trolleybus to be preserved in private ownership and widely regarded as the vehicle that started the trolleybus preservation movement in the United Kingdom.
Following purchase by the RTS 113 was kept in outside storage in Reading for 10 years but the bodywork deteriorated badly.
In 1971 No.113 was towed from Reading to Leicester Avenue Depot, Doncaster before moving over to Sandtoft on 18 June 1972. It was externally repainted in the mid-1970s.
On 29 October 1978, it was operated on demonstration at a Reading trolleybus event at Sandtoft to mark the 10th anniversary of the closure of that system. It was the first time 113 had operated in view of the public for 17 years.
An attempt to restore 113 was made in the mid-1980s but work came to a halt after finding extensive problems with the rear end of the vehicle, which would be costly to repair. It was put back into the depot until such time as funds were available to restore her thoroughly.
That time finally arrived in 1997 when our late Chairman, Mike Dare, kindly offered to pay for 113s restoration. The work was undertaken at Westgate Chapel, located two miles from Sandtoft. On completion she looked magnificent.
On completion of the work, 113 was taken to Reading and parked in Broad Street on
31 October 1998 to mark the 30th anniversary of the closure of the Reading system. Despite the rain the public were pleased to see her, and many memories of the trolleybuses were recalled.
113 was finally launched into service at Sandtoft on 30 May 1999, with Lord Stoddart of Swindon, who fought so hard in Parliament to see trolleybuses re-introduced in the UK, being guest of honour.
By 2018 the varnish on the paintwork was beginning to crack up at the front end of the vehicle. To enable it to take part in an event at Sandtoft to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Reading system, the paintwork at the front end was rubbed down and repainted.
Sadly, BTS member Colin Enticknap had passed away a few years earlier and he left a legacy in his Will for the BTS to spend. It was decided to use the money to give 113 an external repaint and in July 2019 it was towed to Penistone where it was given an external repaint , and the external adverts it had on withdrawal from service in Reading in 1961 were recreated. It returned just in time for Sandtoft’s Gala Weekend, an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the Museum’s existence.
The late Colin Enticknap’s niece, Valerie Hayllor, officially launched 113 back into service on 2 November 2019, a very wet day