Still regarded with affection by many, the electric trolleybuses replaced Bournemouth’s former tramway system in 1933 and ran for 36 years.
They followed a network of electrically-charged overhead lines suspended above the road. The silent and emission-free trolleybuses were popular with holidaymakers and residents alike. At their height, the trolleybus network extended to 29 miles and was served by 127 vehicles. In the year ending March 1937, the trolleybuses carried 26.3 million passengers. Ten years later the figure had risen to 42.7 million.
The trolleybus era came to an end in 1969 with a closure procession and civic ceremony marking the last day of scheduled services on Saturday April 19. In their place came diesel buses. Yellow Buses has now updated its ‘history bus’ as a tribute to the trolleybuses. The ADL E200 single decker contains display panels with archive pictures tracking the proud 117-year history of Bournemouth Transport. But now external vinyls have been added with old time film spools showing electric trolleybuses in action from 1933 to 1969.
Yellow Buses also welcomed former driver Keith Burbidge to its Yeomans Way depot in Bournemouth. Keith and his wife, Carol, have built their own mini-trolleybus, based on a reconditioned mobile scooter, as a tribute to what many still regard as Bournemouth’s favourite mode of transport. The replica is accurate down to the last detail, including a scaled-down driver’s tea flask on the dashboard.
David Squire, Yellow Buses’ Managing Director, said: “We’ve proudly served the people of Bournemouth, and beyond, for 117 years but, without doubt, the trolleybus era was one of our finest periods. “It’s amazing how even 50 years on so many people remember the trolleybuses with genuine affection. The ‘history bus’ is our tribute to what has gone down as one of the finest chapters in our long and proud history.”
During his visit to Yeomans Way, former driver Keith also brought along original tickets from the last day of trolleybus services. He said: “We’ll be using our trolleybus to promote, and raise funds, for the Bournemouth Vintage Bus Rally in June. Both Carol and I travelled on the last trolleybus and this is our tribute to that time.”