West Ham's First Trolleybus
By John Prentice
The British built double-deck 33 seat Cedes-Stoll trolleybus at Hove in September 1914. Intermittent trials were undertaken until November although the overhead remained in place until August 1915. The sign on the upper deck side reads "CEDES' GEARLESS TRACKLESS TROLLEY SYSTEM". The overhead here was a demonstration of the fittings for a trolleybus / tramway crossing. Both the car and all the Hove overhead was sold to Keighley in 1916, the car becoming number 9 in their fleet.
Due to the complexity of the companies involved and contradictions in some records it is difficult to be certain of total accuracy and completeness, but there follows a list of systems that are known to have used the Stoll current collection system with the dates they probably ran and in brackets the number of vehicles operated:-
Built by Carl Stoll's own company in Dresden, Germany.
Built by the later European companies to Stoll, Lohner and Porsche patents.
Built in Vienna, Austria but imported to Britain by Trackless Trolley Ltd.
Built by the Cedes-Stoll company in Britain.
* number excludes the West Ham and Hove demonstration vehicles which were sold to Keighley in 1913 and 1916 respectively.
A replica of a Gmünd trolleybus was built in 2016 in Ceské Velenice in the Czech Republic. The same builders in 2019 created a replica of the West Ham/Keighley one for the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft, as seen here - Photos John Huddlstone.
Here in Keighley, British built 29-seat Cedes-Stoll trolleybuses 4 and 6 are seen on a "single-track" section of the Sutton route at Hawcliffe Wood in 1915. The vehicles have met and the drivers are exchanging trolleys, a common practice on most Cedes-Stoll installations. The conductor can be seen holding out a flag as a warning to other road users.
Weymann bodied AEC E2 class trolleybus number 622 was the first and last trolleybus to run in Greengate Street, in 1937 and 1960 respectively. Photographed by W.J.Haynes in the 1950s, here it is seen on route 669 at North Woolwich by the Free Ferry.
In a different era 25 years later, trolleybuses returned to Greengate Street on 6th June 1937, with the service being inaugurated by the then Mayor, Alderman Mrs. Daisy Parsons, who drove Weymann bodied AEC E2 class trolleybus number 622 from the depot to the Greengate pub, exactly the route of the Cedes-Stoll trial. On 9th June 1940 West Ham depot operated its last tram. West Ham depot's workshop was then switched to doing intermediate servicing of all the East London trolleybuses, so Greengate Street saw many "visitors" from other depots. The last trolleybus ran along Greengate Street and into West Ham depot in the early hours of 27th April 1960 (on route 699). It was 622, the same one that had started the service in 1937.
Trolleybus 622 again, here taken by W.J.Haynes in around 1960 at the Victoria and Albert Docks terminus of route 699. This route ran along Greengate Street was in fact the last to operate into West Ham Depot.
My thanks go to Bob Appleton for his help locating some of the patent documents and additional information used in this article.
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