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Portsmouth Trolleybuses

The Portsmouth trolleybus network covered the whole of the city and the suspended power wires were a fundamental part of how the city’s roads looked for decades. We featured the history of the trolleybus in Portsmouth on one of our previous transport history articles (you can read the article HERE) but I found some amazing cine footage recently that really shows them at work, with interesting views of how the city looked back in the 50s. Always love seeing the power station too, we have an article on that coming up soon, as well as the return of our transport article series.


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  1. @Lord_Palmerston

    19 February

    Great bit of film. There was a fascinating book published about 25 years ago called “Fares Please” which was all about the history of public transport in Pompey, well worth keeping an eye out for. Bus and train enthusiasts can seem a bit obsessive but there is often a huge amount of nearly-lost history in the background of their shots.

  2. Paul Gonella

    20 February

    Sounds interesting, will try and keep my eye out for that. Like you say, their obsession with documenting everything is a godsend down the line keeping a record of not only the transport but the city and the people too.

  3. Tony

    22 February

    Ooh – I’ve got that book. Must have another flick through

  4. Gordon Ferguson

    13 July

    As an ex Pompey trolley bus driver I loved your video. Problem is that the buses are all blue! Or is it my tablet.

  5. The trolleybuses passed our house as we lived in close proximity to the Festing (Hotel) PH. We were lucky enough to have 3 services pass with a bus stop opposite. The services were the 5/6 Dockyard (The Hard) – Cosham Red Lion (Spur Road), 17/18 Dockyard – Eastney – Dockyard and 19/20 Cosham Rly Stn – Albert Road – Eastney – Milton – Fratton Bridge – Alexandra Park. If you lived between the Guildhall and Bradford Junction section of the 17/18 and 19/20 routes, you could observe the 17, 18, 19 and 20 numbers run in both directions! Confusing or what to strangers to the city especially if catching a bus at the ‘Town Station’ bus stops in Greetham Street!
    In Portsmouth each route direction had its own unique number, so there were 2 unique numbers per route. Put those in 2 circular routes and you’ve got confusion! But in cities that had radial routes allocated with the usual single number like Sheffield, they also had circlular routes which were designatedthe 2/3 and 8/9. I wanted to tell Sheffield Corporation Transport to alter the numbers to 1/2 and 7/8 to be like Portsmouth because Portsmouth had the numbers right!!! Sheffield spoilt everything by having a route 1 in the way of the number listing, shifting all the numbers up one place! Ah well you can’t win ’em all! In Portsmouth it took the new service from Hilsea Lido to the newly built houses at Upper Paulsgrove (HillsleyRoad) in the 1950s to be designated service 21 to change the mold! See what I did there? Totally go off the subject! Apologies everybody. So I said to this Trolleybus… Incidentally the 76 Craven bodied trolleybus vehicles the CPPTD had supplied between 1936-7 were bodied in Sheffield. Not a fan myself of Craven bodywork. I wished Portsmouth had stuck with the more handsome English Electric bodies that they had specifically numbered 16-24. I bet the more modern E-E bodies would have been a sensation full of style. Incidentally my ‘thing’ with the early trolleybuse were the different shapes of rain channels that ran from the tops of the top deck rear side windows downwards to end at the base of the top deck rear windows in a stylish curve. But then that was me!

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