Gallery: Ipswich Trolleybus moves under its own power for first time in 51 years
15:03 10 April 2014
It was something many Ipswich people thought they would never see again – one of the town’s trolleybuses moving under its own power for the first time in more than half a century.
Trolleybuses operated in the town for 40 years
Ipswich trolleybus fleet replaced trams in the town in 1923, and provided all the corporation transport around the town until 1950.
The development of the Chantry estate – approached under the low rail bridge in Ancaster Road – led to the purchase of the first motorbuses which did not need overhead wires.
Within a decade they had taken over most of the trolleybus routes. The last trolleybuses ran in August 1963 from the town centre to the Cobham Road depot – which is now the town’s transport museum.
Eight of the newer trolleybuses were sold to the network in Walsall in the Black Country and continued operating until 1970.
Two, including number 105, were taken over by the museum and one was used as a staff canteen at Tower Ramparts for several years.
When the town’s trolleybus network was dismantled in 1963, the fleet of vehicles that ran from the town to Priory Heath and Gainsborough were sold off, scrapped, or found other uses.
Two were preserved by the Ipswich Transport Museum, and now trolleybus 105 has been restored to full working order.
The 1948-built trolleybus was shown off in its restored state for the first time at the museum last year. Now it has been taken to the East Anglian Transport Museum at Carlton Colville near Lowestoft and has run for the first time in preservation under that museum’s wires.
It had to be fully accredited by a qualified engineer – and will now be able to give visitors to the museum rides during the summer.
The trolleybus will be formally unveiled to the public on May 10 and 11 as part of a special “Made and Used in Suffolk” event and will remain there until the autumn, when it will return to Ipswich for static display.
Ipswich Transport Museum chairman Mark Smith, 43, was born eight years after the last trolleybus ran. He said: “I’ve only ever seen cine footage of these vehicles moving – to watch and hear it for real is a dream come true.”
Museum trustee Owen Phillips, 24, has been co-ordinating the testing and commissioning work. He said: “No.105 was a derelict wreck when we started.
“The restoration is a shining testament to everyone who worked so hard on it during the last 11 years. It shows just what can be achieved with passion, skill, hard work and dedication.”
At present there are no wires to allow the bus to move under its own power in Ipswich – but Mr Phillips has not ruled out the possibility of it running again in the town.
He said: “Never say never. It may not be possible now – but who’s to say where we’ll be in 10 years time?”