Historic Suffolk-built trolleybus set for restoration

A Mexborough & Swinton trolleybus destination blind was unfurled at the presentation. Left to right:

A Mexborough & Swinton trolleybus destination blind was unfurled at the presentation. Left to right: Mike Johnson (RTG Treasurer), David Hanchett (RTG Secretary) and Dave Chick (BTS Chairman) in front of the Mexborough & Swinton trolleybus. - Credit: Archant

It may look neglected, but this run-down trolleybus is on the road to restoration – almost 90 years after it left the factory floor in Suffolk.

Two hundred miles away, just outside Doncaster, a team of volunteers are hoping to return the 1927 vehicle to its former glory.

Built by Richard Garrett and Sons in Leiston, the trolleybus was the first of 30 ‘O-types’ bought by the Mexborough and Swinton Traction Company to replace tram services in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Number 34 remained in service until 1945 and was then used for storing hay on a farm, until being bought by the British Trolleybus Society (BTS) in 1974.

Since then, its home has been the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft, where it has remained under cover, awaiting restoration.


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Following the launch of a restoration fund, the BTS recently received a £700 donation from the Rotherham Trolleybus Group.

BTS member, David Bowler researched the vehicle’s history, unearthing original drawings and specifications.

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It is the last complete, single-deck Mexborough and Swinton trolleybus, although other Garrett engines exist elsewhere in the country, including one awaiting restoration at Ipswich Transport Museum, and a restored 1926 trolleybus, with a Garrett-built chassis, at the East Anglia Transport Museum.

BTS chairman, Dave Chick said: “The restoration of trolleybus 34 is the most ambitious project our society has ever taken on.

“It is a huge task, as some major components are missing, but all of us are excited that the project is going ahead.

“We are very grateful to the Rotherham Trolleybus Group for their support.”

Anna Mercer, curator of the Long Shop Museum, home of the former Garrett works, was made aware of the project by a Swinton resident who used to ride the trolleybus and knows the landlords of a Leiston pub.

She said: “We were very pleased to learn about the project to restore the trolleybus at the museum in Sandtoft.”

To learn more about the project, or offer any practical help, contact Dave Chick at chairman@britishtrolley.org.uk or 23 Pryor Close, Purley on Thames, Berkshire RG31 6UG.

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