Southend’s Trolleybuses
The Launch of Services Southend’s Trolleybus system began operating on 16th October 1925, two single deck cars from Railless Ltd were hired to provide the service, the first arrived in October 1925 the second in early 1926. The first route to be laid down was relatively short, running from Victoria Circus to the Blue Boar/St Mary’s Church, in the first fortnight of operating a total of 24,315 passengers were carried with takings of £99. This was then extended in 1926 to Priory Park, the route was a single track with one passing loop at Victoria Circus. An ex single deck AEC demonstration car was acquired later in 1927, the three cars in use could only seat around 30 people each, so in January 1928 a six wheel Garret double deck trolleybus seating 55 passengers was acquired. The new double deck trolley proved popular and more were added to the fleet. The trolleybus service initially operated alongside the trams on the Victoria Avenue route, however, the smoother ride of the trolleys saw use of the trams reduce, on 18th December 1928 the trams were withdrawn from the route. Plans to run the service into Southend Victoria Railway Station were blocked by the railway company, so the route was extended in to the High Street and then turned into Whitegate Road, Bankside, Seaway and then on to Marine Parade and the Kursaal, the opening of the extended route took place on 2nd August 1929. Trolleybuses and Trams never ran the full length of the High Street, because the railway bridge halfway down the high street, taking the London Tilbury and Southend Railway line to Shoebury was too low to permit them to pass under. Further extensions included: 21st January 1932: Fairfax Drive from Priory Park to Eastwood Boulevard. 31st July 1932: Victoria Circus via Bradley Street, Guildford Road, Sutton Road and North Avenue to Hamstel Road (later to the Kursaal). Summer 1934: Marine Parade to bottom of Pier Hill. 24th July 1934: Eastwood Boulevard, Nelson Road to terminating at Wellington Avenue. These extensions were partly to co-inside with the withdrawal of the trams that had been operating the same routes. A further extension included the popular Kursaal to Thorpe Bay Corner service on 4th June 1939. The Second World War saw a number of the Southend’s Trolleybus fleet sent to other towns and cities, the war also saw the end of the trams in Southend, with the last operating in April 1942. A loop was added to the trolleybus network on 1st June 1943 when wires were erected around Warrior Square Gardens, the trolleybuses operated a clockwise route round the square. Milton Road, Guildford Road were added to the route in 1943 and on 3rd April 1944, the final extension to include North Road and Hamstel Road, Southchurch Road and on to the White Horse was opened. The service was well used but the long drawn out war had taken its toll on the network with various air raids destroying roads and damaging the overhead cables. Services 28A West Circular: London Road, Chalkwell Schools, Fairfax Drive & Victoria Circus. 28B West Circular: Fairfax Drive, Chalkwell Schools, London Road & Victoria Circus. 28C Works Service: Priory Park - Kursaal. 51 Victoria Circus and Kursaal via: Southchurch Road & Southchurch Avenue. 52 Summer Service. 63A East Circular: Victoria Circus, North Avenue, Hamstel Road, White Horse. 63B East Circular: White Horse, Hamstel Road, North Avenue, Victoria Circus. Fleet List
Coded 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126
Type Railless Railless AEC 603T Garrett OS Garrett OS Garrett OS Garrett OS Garrett OS Garrett OS English Electric (EEC) English Electric (EEC) AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC AEC 661T/EEC Gloster TDD AEC Q 761T AEC 661T AEC 661T AEC 661T
Years of Service 1925-1933 1926-1933 1927-1937 1928-1939 1928-1939 1928-1939 1928-1939 1928-1939 1928-1939 1930-1939 1930-1939 1932-1950 1932-1950 1932-1950 1932-1950 1932-1950 1932-1954 1932-1954 1932-1954 1932-1954 1932-1954 1934-1950 1934-1949 1939-1954 1939-1954 1939-1954
Registration HJ 5065 HJ 5389 NW 9583 HJ 7363 HJ 8925 HJ 8926 HJ 8927 HJ8928 HJ 8929 JN 60 JN61 JN 2112 JN 2113 JN 2114 JN 2115 JN 2986 JN 2817 JN 2818 JN 2819 JN 2820 JN 2821 JN 3822 JN 4373 BHJ 194 BHJ 195 BHJ 196
Winding Down The maintenance of the ageing system and service vehicles was becoming more costly, most of the infrastructure needed replacing too, further issues arose with the nationalisation of the local electricity generating services, payments for the service became complicated from one council department to another, this saw a large question mark hanging over the future of the trolleybus services. With the reliability of petrol buses improving and the fact they could go anywhere the sword of Damocles begun to swing…. On the 2nd December 1944 the Kursaal leg of the trolleybus service begun operating as a separate service from the Southchurch- Prittlewell service, single decks were operated every half hour, in November 1951 services to the Kursaal were further reduced to a “works” service only, these were gradually withdrawn and taken over by motor buses. The eastern part of the network closed down on 10th February 1954, leaving just the western sector operating.
Last Day Tickets
128 progressing along London Road on her last trip out, being photographed by a passenger from the car in front, what would the police do today!
The Mayor of Southend Mr Henry Newman Bride receives his ticket from Councillor R.E.W. Johnson
128 photographed from one of the buildings at Victoria Circus, showing off the special commemorative panels reading Oct 1925 & Oct 1954, the advert was for the Westcliff Hotel
128 starting her run back to the depot, the last time a Trolleybus would be seen at Victoria Circus.
128 awaiting departure on her final revenue generating run
With bunting, flags and date boards attached, the driver Mr S. L. Nicholls, with his conductor Mr F. S. Harwood and the last passengers gather for a group photo before the last run of the trolleybus
The Last Day The final day of trolleybus operations in Southend came on 28th October 1954 when trolley number “128” was decorated with Union Flags and bunting. The trolleybus, under the command of driver Mr S. L. Nicholls and his conductor Mr F. S. Harwood, departed from Victoria Circus at 11:30am, the trolleybus with a full load of passengers made its way along London Road and as it passed the Southend Corporation Transport Depot staff members lined the street and removed their uniform caps as “128” trundled past, at bus stops people waved as the trolley bus went past, knowing they were witnessing a moment in history. The trolleybus proceeded along to Chalkwell Schools where it turned down towards Fairfax Drive, where it was joined by Southend Corporation Transport Inspector F. Lonergan, who had driven the very first trolleybus out of the depot on 16th October 1925. Upon returning to Victoria Circus “128” was taken over by Alderman E. N. Selby Chairman of the Transport Committee who climbed into the driver’s seat and Councillor R. E. W. Johnson became the conductor, with the new crew in place all the public passengers disembarked, leaving just staff passengers of the company on board for the short and final trip back to the depot. Mr C. Marsh aged 71 who had worked for Southend Corporation Transport had been the conductor on the very first tram in Southend in August 1901, and a conductor on the first motor bus in 1914, he was an invited guest on the closing day of the trolleybus service. The very last journey saw 154 tickets issued, the very last issued was numbered 6212. At the close of the service the Southend trolleybus service had operated for just 29 years and 12 days, many thousands of miles had been covered by the fleet, sadly none made it to preservation.
The Last Day Photo Album

Southend Timeline Southend-on-Sea © 2009 - 2021. All Rights Reserved

Years of Service 1939-1954 1939-1954 1939-1954 1945-1961 1945-1961 1945-1961 1946-1962 1946-1962 1946-1962 1946-1962 1946-1962 1946-1962 1946-1952 1946-1952 1946-1952 1946-1952 1946-1952 1950-1953 1950-1953 1950-1953 1950-1953 1950-1953 1950-1953 1950-1953 1950-1953 1950-1953
Registration BHJ 197 BHJ 198 BHJ 199 BHJ 827 BHJ 828 BHJ 829 BHJ 898 BHJ 899 BHJ 900 BHJ 901 BHJ 902 BHJ 903 VN 9434 VN 9435 VN 9436 VN 9437 VN 9438 BDA 364 BDA 365 BDA 366 BDA 367 BDA 368 BDA 369 BJW 171 BJW 173 BJW 175
Type AEC 661T AEC 661T AEC 661T Sunbeam W Sunbeam W Sunbeam W Sunbeam W Sunbeam W Sunbeam W Sunbeam W Sunbeam W Sunbeam W Leyland TB3 Leyland TB3 Leyland TB3 Leyland TB3 Leyland TB3 Sunbeam MF2 Sunbeam MF2 Sunbeam MF2 Sunbeam MF2 Sunbeam MF2 Sunbeam MF2 Sunbeam MF2 Sunbeam MF2 Sunbeam MF2
Coded 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152
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