Memories of Trolleybuses in Bournemouth

From: "Patrick Linsley" <cyberbia@ntlworld.com>

Trolleybus Turnable at Christchurch Trolleybus Turnable at Christchurch Trolleybus Turnable at Christchurch Blue Plaque for Trolleybus Turntable
Pictures PL1, PL2, PL3 and PL4

The old trolleybus turntable that was at Christchurch in Hampshire [now Dorset] is still in existence in its original location behind Christchurch Job Centre.

As a child I used to be taken by my mum and dad to Christchurch and we used to watch the mustard yellow with chocolate brown stripe Bournemouth Corporation Trolleybuses being turned on the turntable. Every now and then the bus driver would allow us to help him turn the trolley bus itself; a great bit of fun!

When over at the Christchurch Job Centre, doing a H&S inspection, when I came across a blue plaque, shown in picture PL4, regarding the former Bournemouth Corporation Transport trolleybus turntable.

The entrance to the courtyard is now via a new entrance protected by electronically operated gates making public access to the turntable difficult, however part of the turntable is just visible through these gates. The white car seen in two of the pictures is situated on the former trolleybus entrance.

From: "George Moon" <GeorgeM308@aol.com>

I've only just found the pages of Bournemouth trolleybuses when browsing through the 260 on tour in Bournemouth page. I can tell you a true story about Christchurch Turntable.

When the site was to be redeveloped, we in the LTPS thought the turntable would be just the thing for the proposed Woodside trolleybus terminus, being a dead-end. So we contacted Bournemouth Corporation and made an offer, quite a good one we thought, at 1970's prices, for the turntable as it lay.

Bournemouth Corporation must have thought they were onto a good thing here, because they replied that it would have to go out to competitive tender. Meanwhile we had made some enquiries about the cost of removal and transport which proved [again by the prices of the day] quite beyond our reach. So we declined to tender, the Corporation didn't get its money and the turntable is still there and not at Carlton Colville. Of such chances is history made.

From: "Wilf Greaves" <wilf@santapola.fsnet.co.uk>

I would just like to say how much I enjoyed your Picture gallery of Bournemouth trolleybuses it brought back many happy memories of my childhood and my many holidays in Bournemouth in the 1950's and 60's. I am now 60 years old and live in Blackpool we have the trams but I still have a soft spot for the Bournemouth trolleybus.

From: "Tony Legg" <julton@ntlworld.com>

Have just found your most welcome site of the old trolleys we remember so well.

I looked at photo 39 for a while, as I believe the single Decker Bedford was fleet number 13 with Reg plate FEL 213. When this was retired and sold off, three members of the Poole & District Model Railway Society saved and Preserved this along with FEL 215 No. 15.

Messer's John Mackley, Paul Davis and Alan Fall saved 13 first, around 1966, restoring the yellow livery and overhauling the engine at Berkeley Avenue Parkstone. There were many long distant runs out, visits to, and taking part in, various Rallies, including the Longmoor Railway closure.

No. 15 became available in 1966 but in this case retired from the Civil Defence Corps as they were disbanding the cause. I believe these same three bought 15 and maintained her in her C.D. all over green livery.

In 1967, an epic Snowdonia 'holiday' was arranged when for 55 each we, 21, members ventured to Oswestry, FFestiniog, Welshpool, Snowdon and all the associated early narrow gauge lines. Both busses were taken for catering, luggage and sleeping in the comfy seats in situ. We stayed at camp sites and ending the two weeks at a rally at Camerton near Bath arriving at 03.30 hrs after driving down from Talyllyn.

Those old buses still had then reliable engines but needed treating gently. After 1972 I've never heard any more of them. Hope this is of interest as it goes towards a little of it's history of its life.

From: "John Mawson" <johnwmawson@waitrose.com>

Have been continuing my perusal of your website and was very interested in the item about Bournemouth under the heading of "Trolleybus Towns" and especially the contributions from P Linsley and G Moon about the Christchurch turntable.

I suppose a detailed history of this feature would occupy far more space than you could possibly devote to it; after all people have written whole books about the Bournemouth system, but I wondered if anyone would be interested in this fact?

Right up to the end of the system in 1969 cables leading from the overhead to a pole-mounted switch box near the entrance to The Dolphin yard bore testimony to the fact that power operation of the turntable was contemplated at one time. It never happened, but there may have been trials which were deemed unsuccessful.

There was a contact or "skate" on the positive overhead wire just past the last stop in the High Street which was connected to a relay panel of the sort used to operate the automatic frogs or "points" on the system so that when a bus went ahead to go onto the turntable a warning light was illuminated telling the driver of any subsequent bus that the turntable, which was out of sight, was occupied. A second "skate" at the exit into Church Street extinguished the light. A similar light existed at the Westbourne terminus of service 25 and served to prevent trolleybuses following one another too closely into Poole Road.

From: "Chris Malone" <dadmalone@googlemail.com>

Excellent site - Thank you.

With regards to the Christchurch trolleybus turntable; I don't know if anyone else dared to do it however towards the end of the trolleybuses I waited for a gap between trolleybuses and then drove my Morris Minor 1000 [NBK 802] on to the turntable, got out, pushed it round, and then drove back off again, narrowly avoiding a trolleybus on its way up the High Street towards the turntable. All much to the consternation of the delightful young lady [Denise] that I was going out with at the time [and with whom I alter shared a short trolleybus ride from the Square to Landsowne]. I travelled extensively on the Bournemouth trolleys including two open top enthusiasts' tours, including the three depots wiring. If anybody knows (a) the whereabouts of Denise A P or (b) the fate of my old car NBK 802 please let me know. I think Denise should have got over her shock by now!

Perhaps somewhat reminiscent of those who drove through the Kingsway Tram Subway in London during its last few days of operation. Which may well have been my inspiration.

I told my friend Ian C about my adventures and he spoofed me by saying that he had bought some fish and chips in Bournemouth and the newspaper [remember those days!] had perchance included a brief paragraph along the lines that Bournemouth Police were searching for the owner of a Morris Minor 1000 and added that they presumed that it did not have a reverse gear. All a spoof of course on Ian's part but I hid for a week. Those were the days.

From: "Richard Cooper" <richardcooper368@btinternet.com>

Can I just say how much I have enjoyed looking at the photos of the Bournemouth trolleybuses on your website. I first moved to Bournemouth in 1968 at the age of 5 and I can remember the turntable in Christchurch. Funnily enough, in 1986 I worked in the office block surrounding the turntable.

I read on Wikipedia that the turntable is one of only four worldwide. However, there is a turntable behind Boots in Winton, near Bournemouth. The store is on the corner of Wimborne Road and Leslie Road. The turntable can be viewed via the entrance in Leslie Road. If you look on Bing Maps or Google Earth, you can see the turntable. The centre of the table has a plate similar to that in Christchurch, except with "H& C Davis & Co. Ltd Engineers, Clapham, London" written on top.

Perhaps this turntable was installed to serve the shop. Before becoming Boots, it was Sainsburys.

I don't know whether or not you can shed any light on this?

From: "David Bowler" <bowler.drhte@bluewin.ch>

In respect to Mr. Cooper's enquiry [any connection to the transport artist G.S. Cooper?], I can first of all assure him that the turntable in Winton had nothing whatsoever to do with the trolleybuses. There were never any plans to construct trolleybus turntables on the Bournemouth system other than that at Christchurch whilst any vehicle needing to turn in this part [Leslie Road] of Winton would have used the Crimea Road / Alma Road loop at Winton Banks.

More generally, although I have never taken a particular interest in such features, I have seen vehicular turntables in many courtyards and constricted yards which were so placed to allow delivery lorries and vans to drive in cab first, be turned for unloading purposes, and then drive out again cab first.

From: "John Mawson" <johnwmawson@waitrose.com>

Many thanks for sending the various comments about Bournemouth and especially the turntable. Yes, there were many turntables, smaller than the Christchurch one, but they were for smaller vehicles. A garage on Christchurch Road Bournemouth on the former 20/24 trolleybus route had one for turning cars.

Regarding FEL213, #13, this was one of the fifteen Leyland TD5 double-deckers [FEL201 to FEL215] and was not a Bedford single decker. This must have been #15, a Bedford WTB [Utility bodied wartime bus] which went to the Civil Defence organisation in July 1961.

Travelling around Bournemouth today it is hard to believe that trolleybuses once ran. If someone suggested that electrically powered vehicles might run, taking power from overhead wires above the road, one would think they were barmy! At least Mallard Road Depot was made a Listed Building - I was there on 5 November 2013 [it is now a Homebase DIY Superstore]. In one corridor, which few people have occasion to visit, there are photos on the wall of the old depot under construction and in use.