A bit of a varied roundup today, to clear the decks and catch up with news from around the team…
Below: At the end of the day last Friday, our Teesside trolleybus, Teesside Municipal Transport No.11, arrived. This has now been unloaded and will be placed inside the tram depot this week – creating the space for which has proved to be quite a challenge!
In 1969 Teesside Municipal Transport (successors to the Teesside Railless Traction Board, who had operated the system until 1968) purchased five second-hand Sunbeam F4A trolleybuses (with Burlingham 68 seat forward entrance bodies) from Reading Corporation Transport, where our vehicle had been numbered 186. These had been purchased, new, by Reading in 1961 as a batch of twelve. After such a short working life in Reading, TMT’s five vehicles arrived on Teesside and were repainted and put into service in March 1969. They did not prove to be a very enduring investment, with two of the five soon being withdrawn from service following mechanical failures.
All five were, however, renumbered in August 1970, with our bus, VRD 186, taking the number T291. Two of the ex Reading trolleybuses survived in operation to the end of the trolleybus system’s working life in April 1971, with 11 (as T291) being adorned with suitable notices on its advertising panels to note 52 years of Trolley Bus (two words) service and pronouncing that the systems trolleybuses had carried 227 million passengers over 27 million miles of travel. 11 then made the final trolleybus movement on the system, as it reversed into the depot upon completion of the official last trolleybus procession (which interestingly took place two weeks after the final public service had operated). Only one trolleybus system, Bradford, outlived the Teesside system, that one closing the following year in 1972.
TMT 11 has operated on (and been resident at) all of the other UK heritage trolleybus routes, at the Black Country Museum, Sandtoft Transport Centre and East Anglia Transport Museum. In 1993 it also operated in Ipswich, using a diesel generator to provide an electrical supply, and which was towed behind the bus. The bus was latterly in the ownership of David Brown, who had the vehicle overhauled and repainted prior to it’s appearance at the EATM in 2017. Once in Beamish’s ownership, the trolleybus was moved initially to Stockton bus depot, in the care of the Teesside 500 Group, who were able to display it as part of their collection based there. I would be very pleased to hear from anyone who can help detail 11’s life after 1971 and enable me to put a timeline of its locations, ownership and activity between then and now.
Chris and Alan unloaded the bus, and Chris took the following photos:
Below: A couple of views of the bus outside the depot. It is to be fitted with new tyres, and these are currently on order for fitting in the next week or so.
Below: Sheffield 264’s motor arrived on site last week, to be fitted this week (on Tuesday). A new armature has been made for it and it rotates, by hand, very sweetly.
Below: Various components for Gateshead 10’s bogies have been painted – the engineering team feeding whatever it has completed to Rebecca in order to keep this rather substantial task within reasonable time parameters.
Below: On Gateshead 10, the trolley plans have been fitted and this has enabled the overhauled trolleybase to be reinstated on the roof. The window frames for the clerestory are being painted and varnished, at which point the work on the roof is complete and the scaffolding can be removed (later this week). The window frames etc. then need preparation and priming/undercoating, before the tram is lifted to enable work on the underside of the body (including to the bolsters) to be carried out. The final coats of coach paint, lining, lettering and varnishing won’t be applied until the tram is sat on its bogies and the body has settled.
Below: In readiness for the the body to be removed from the Dodge bus, these strengthening gussets have been made to reinforce the roof structure. The glazing has been being removed and other work carried out to stabilise it for the lift. There is then a degree of solitaire to play in order to create a number of spaces around the workshops at Foulbridge, in order to move the winter/spring projects into position. The Dodge body lift forms part of this, but to say we are tight for undercover space is an understatement!
Below: The B-Type works are nearing completion, with paint drying and the mechanical work nearly finished. The wings remain to be fitted (this week), then the bus can be inspected and handed back over for traffic.
Below: By the close of play on Monday, the new wings were in place…
Below: Sunderland 13 is staying with us for the winter, and will be used in service on some occasions.
Darlington Bus Shelter
Below: A bit of a push is underway to get the shelter painted before the winter sets in. We await the programme from Remaking Beamish to show when it will be installed on the corner of Pockerley Road and Front Street, at which point it can be glazed etc. The cresting is also here, and some work will be needed to make brackets to fit this to the ridge, without inhibiting the installation of the wired-glass panels (which are held in store for us). Note the Dodge bus in the background, with the body now reduced to more or less skeletal form.
Below: The Buckingham Green paint is now to hand and the first items have been prepared and painted, as seen here.