Ipswich Transport Museum
Preserving the transport heritage of Ipswich since 1965, and now supported by the Friends of the Ipswich Transport Museum. The Ipswich Transport Museum is a Registered Charity No. 276626 and an Accredited Museum, number RD890.
Homebullet point
Ipswich Transport Historybullet point
Horse tramsbullet point
Horse busesbullet point
Electric tramsbullet point
Trolleybusesbullet point
Motorbusesbullet point
Ipswich Buses Ltdbullet point
Eastern Countiesbullet point
Local railwaysbullet point
Ipswich Fire Servicebullet point
Ipswich Airportbullet point
Last Updated:
update date

Ipswich Trolleybuses

Ipswich Corporation began an experimental trolleybus service on 2nd September 1923. The route ran from Cornhill to Ipswich Station, replacing the tram service that had served on this route. The trolleybuses were powered by electricity from overhead wires in a similar fashion to the trams but looked and handled like a conventional bus. They were not restricted to tracks and were initially marketed as 'Trackless Trams'. Three vehicles were hired to start with, all being single deck, followed by two more in 1924. These vehicles were then purchased and thirty more delivered in 1926 as tram replacements. These thirty buses were built locally, half by Ransomes of Ipswich and half by Garratts of Leiston. A further 15 single deck vehicles arrived over the next few years, all bar one being built locally by Ransomes.

In 1933 Hampton E. Blackiston, the Corporation's Chief Engineer, oversaw a rapid expansion. Double deck vehicles were introduced, again built by Ransomes. A new depot was built at Priory Heath in 1937 to accommodate the enlarged fleet. By 1940, 41 double deck vehicles were in stock. The Second World War marked significant changes. During the war up to 70% of the staff were women, replacing men called into the services. The overhead wires were replaced and trolley wheels replaced by slippers to eliminate flashing in the blackout. In 1944/5, 15 trolleybuses were delivered, built to wartime 'Utility' specification including wooden slatted seats.

Postwar expansion continued with a further 25 vehicles delivered between 1948 and 1950. In 1948 the Council's electricity supply was nationalised. The Council created a new post of traffic manager with Richard Chandler the first holder of the post. He introduced the first diesel buses on new services to Whitehouse and Maidenhall estates. The idea was to evaluate the new routes prior to the introduction of trolleybuses and thus save the expense of putting up more wires. However, the greater flexibility of motorbuses, combined with the prospect of further infrastructure replacement prompted the Council to replace the last single deck trolleybuses with new motorbuses in 1953.

Thus the 1950 trolleybuses were the last to be purchased. The phased introduction of new motorbuses reduced the trolleybus fleet over the next decade. In 1962 some of the newest trolleybuses were sold for further service in Walsall. The last trolleybus ran on 23rd August 1963.