Trolleybuses first ran in London

Saturday 16th May 1931

Trolleybuses first ran in London. Operated by London United Tramways (LUT), from a depot at Fulwell in South-West London, they were nicknamed “Diddlers” and were bought to replace the trams, which were old and poorly patronised. LUT was absorbed into the London Passenger Transport Board along with other tram operators. The LPTB decided to replace all trams with trolleybuses. This was started in October 1935 with two more former LUT routes, and continued in stages until June 1940, when it was suspended because of the war. By then nearly all the trams north of the Thames had been replaced, but there were still 1100 trams in use in south London. In 1946 it was decided that the remaining trams would be replaced by diesel buses. Trolleybuses were bigger than diesel buses (70 seats compared to 56), and so more diesel buses would be required. It was thought, however, that there would be fewer uncollected fares on the smaller vehicles. “Pay as you Enter” (PAYE) experiments had not been successful as the dwell times at bus stops lengthened.In 1948, a new batch of 77 trolleybuses replaced the Diddlers and trolleybuses that had been destroyed by enemy action. A further 50 new trolleybuses were delivered in 1952 to replace the oldest vehicles, the Diddlers, which, with a 10-year design life, were then 16 years old! In 1954, it was announced that all trolleybuses were to be replaced, with the exception of the post-war vehicles, which would be retained until about 1970 and run over the original LUT routes. Conversion began in 1959, using RT buses for the first three stages and new Routemasters for the remainder. In the end, a change of policy brought forward the conversion of the ex-LUT routes, especially as the post-war trolleybuses had a sale value. A consortium of Spanish operators bought the post-war vehicles. The former LUT routes were the last to be converted to diesel buses, on 8 May 1962.

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