Ipswich Corporation began an experimental trolleybus service on 2nd September
1923. The route ran from Cornhill to Ipswich Station, replacing the
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.