Looking back – Trolleybus operation at Beamish!
As part of the reasearch that is being conducted into the future expansion, viability and direction of the transport system at Beamish I have been looking at the trolleybus route in increasing detail. Whilst very much at a feasibility study stage, it is interesting to look at the potential route and also consider what vehicles might be appropriate or available to operate over it. When looking forwards it is often worth a glance backwards. Our current trolleybus route extends from the tram depot via Foulbridge and up to the Main Entrance. Newcastle 501 has been a reasonably well known past user of this route (as would be expected from a resident vehicle) but it is not alone, for ex Teesside Sunbeam/Roe (chassis and body) trolleybus GAJ 15 has also operated over the route, as Peter Barlow’s collection of photographs below show.
GAJ 15 was initially preserved at Preston Park Museum in Stockton, but after fire damage caused by vagrants living inside the bus (!) it was taken on by a private individual who made arrangements to move it to Beamish where he could conveniently work on it. At Beamish it was overhauled and re-wired as well as being repainted into TRTB (Teesside Railless Traction Board) green livery. It was able to venture out and carry out test and demonstration runs, as seen in these photographs. GAJ 15 was always privately owned and was eventually moved away to Kirkleatham Hall near Redcar where a purpose made building has been erected for it. There have been some comments online that the intention was to scrap it to provide parts for Keighley 12 but as far as I can determine, or any of the longstanding volunteers can recall, this was never the case – it was not Beamish’s to so use! Hopefully these photographs are of interest as I doubt such scenes have appeared in public before, and that they also show that GAJ 15′s owner did lavish some care on the vehicle in order to bring it back into working condition. Being stored outside clearly had a very rapid effect on the paintwork. Note that it arrived in the later livery carried in its last days of service. A service photo of the TRTB operation, in the snow, is also included.
Maybe one day it can stretch its legs over an extended circuit at Beamish…??? Thanks to Peter Barlow for use of these photographs from his collection.