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Black Country Museum Rally 2000

A view of the vehicles visiting the rally including an open-topper from Bournemouth and a Swiss trolleybus, dating from 1961. The strange looking vehicle in the middle is a Dennis Dominator, which was produced in 1984 as an experiment. It was bought by South Yorkshire PTE and ran at Doncaster Racecourse until deregulation was brought in, wich effectively killed off innovation in the bus industry. A view of some of the more typical trolleybuses, from Maidstone and Bradford.
Derby 237. This is an 8 foot wide Roe bodied Sunbeam dating from 1960. It won the trophy for the "Best presented trolleybus". It is a superbly restored vehicle, and probably in better condition now than when it last ran in Derby. Roe bodywork from this time, has to be the nicest.
Compare this with 433 (which is only 7 foot 6 wide).
Most of my instruction since the 2000 rally was on this vehicle and it was the vehicle I passed my test on 2 years later, it is a lovely bus to drive.
These two photographs are of 862, a Willowbrook bodied Sunbeam. It was one of the last trolleybuses to run in Walsall. I went to the last day and rode on this vehicle, paying 6d for the privilege.

And 30 years later, I get to drive this round the circuit (without frightening my instructor!, well not too much).
This is the first trolleybus to have to suffer me as a driver! The experience was the strangest I've ever had. The controller is on a pedal on the left hand side (where the clutch would be) and the brake in the usual place. There was a lot to remember, the circuit breakers above my head, the fact that the controller clicks into discrete notches, that the brake has two notches of electric brake, before the mechanical brake operates. Added to this, you've got to steer the vehicle and remember where the wires are overhead (which is it's own little complicated story). It was nerve-racking and I thought, I'd never do it, but one week later, I managed a complete circuit in 862.

This vehicle started life as a single decker in Darlington and was rebodied by Bradford to a double decker. It's a Karrier W chassis with an East Lancs body.
These two photographs are of 433, a Roe bodied Sunbeam from Wolverhampton. This was the vehicle that occupied my Saturday afternoons when I was 15. A very small part of the effort to restore this lovely trolleybus, but I hope worth it.
I've also now driven this vehicle - a 30 year ambition!
The smooth lines of the Roe body show an attention to detail that is superb. This vehicle entered service in 1946 with a utility body and was rebodied in 1959.
While trolleybus operation ended in Britain in 1972, it is alive and well in the rest of Europe. This is an example of a faily modern European trolleybus from Switzerland.
It's not very suited to British tastes, though, as it caters for very few sitting passengers and has mainly standing room.

These two photographs are of a rather brave experimental vehicle, based on a Dennis Dominator chassis. It suffers from a very noisy pump motor for the hydraulic brakes and steering, but it was a prototype, this would have been solved if the vehicle has gone into production. It remains a unique vehicle and now lives at Sandtoft on permanent loan from the South Yorkshire PTE, who kept this vehicle when the rest of their fleet was handed over to Mainline. This is another of the trolleybuses I had a driving lesson on. It drives just like an automatic bus and at the time was the largest vehicle I'd ever driven.
A photo from my archives, taken at a previous gathering at the Black Country Museum. The last type of trolleybus built in the UK that actually saw public service. A similar vehicle built for Hull had a centre door rather than the open platform and was intended to be used as a one man operated bus. Bournemouth used the front door as an exit to speed up loading.

Another exhibit at the museum is Wolverhampton 78, a Guy trolleybus dating from 1931. It is a "piano front" type, which makes it quite unique. The photograph is colourised and of No 74, which was from the same batch. It would appear that no photographs exist of No 78 in it's running state. Perhaps this is what it will eventually look like.

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Background is Wolverhampton trolleybus No 74, a Guy BTX with Guy bodywork, the Black Country Museum in Dudley has No 78, which is identical. It was discovered in a field in Ireland and returned to the museum for restoration.

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