London Trolleybuses in Ilford Town centre
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Click on picture [546] for an enlarged version

From: "Peter Golds" <>

In the past twenty years the whole of Ilford Town centre has been redeveloped. North of Ilford Lane is "The Exchange" Shopping Centre, which did not exist in Trolleybus days. To the West is the completed North Circular with the massive interchange covering much of the original Romford Road / Ilford Hill area.

In the Trolleybus era the 691 and 693's started at Barking Broadway, turning at London Road/East Street/ They travelled up Ilford Lane, at the intersection of the High Road and Romford Road the 693 joined the 695 and travelled on to Chadwell Heath. The 691 crossed the High Road into Cranbrook Road, where it was joined by the 663 which had turned left after Ilford Hill both passed Ilford Station and turned right into Ley Street. The 663 then used Thorold Road and Balfour Road as a turning circle prior to returning to Aldgate. Some 691s also used this turning facility. The 691 continued along Ley Street, passing the vast Plessey Factory and Ilford Depot at the corner of Perth Road. It then crossed Eastern Avenue into Horns Lane, re-joining Cranbrook Road, where it continued up Barkingside High Street to terminate at the roundabout known as Fulwell Cross [!] - an ironic name.

In January 1959 the 695 was abolished and 663 buses were extended to Chadwell Heath, although many continued to terminate at Ilford.

The massive redevelopment has obliterated much of this area. The Exchange Centre has truncated Ley Street, which is also broken, further up. South of the High Road and Ilford [now Redbridge] Town Hall there are a mass of new roads that simply did not exist in 1959. The diversion notice on picture 423 dates it just prior to conversion, when a one way system was being introduced and 663 and 691s travelled along the High Road, entering Ley Street via Hainault Street.

The wholesale rebuilding at Ilford Lane / Ilford High Road makes it very difficult to identify former landmarks and indeed the location of any trolleybus picture taken in the late 1950s in, and around, Ilford Broadway, the generic name for the town centre. [Another example of a local generic name is Tooting Broadway, which exists only in the name of the tube station and bus destinations!]

A local area map of Ilford, as it is today, appears below. A c1975 street map of Ilford has been found, which in all probability represents the street outlines as they were in 1959. The roads that the trolleybuses traversed have been coloured in, and it might be worthwhile to print this off to read in conjunction with the notes above. With the help of visitors to this site it might be possible to add 'pins' where the pictures on this site were taken. It is thought that most were taken in Ilford High Road, photographing from several directions.

Click on the red the square to view the c1975 map and then use the back button to return to this page.

In early 1959, a there was a massive fire somewhere in Ilford that might explain the skeletal building in some shots. The aftermath of the fire resulted in trolleybus diversions and rewiring in Hainault Street that remained until abandonment.

Ilford Map
A 2000 map of the area.
The wholesale rebuilding at Ilford Lane/Ilford High Road
makes it very difficult to identify landmarks of yesteryear.

From: "Morris Hickey" <>

Some minor amendments to Peter Golds's notes.

The temporary one way arrangement for 663s terminating in/leaving Ilford, and for 691s travelling from Barking to Barkingside and return, was not by way of Ilford High Road and then entering Hainault Street. It was a clockwise loop entering Station Approach [now part of Cranbrook Road], right into Ley Street where 691s proceeded onwards to cross Eastern Avenue into Horns Road [not Lane]. This led into Tanners Lane at the Barkingside end, by the main entrance to the former Barnardo's Village Homes, up to the intersection with Cranbrook Road, Barkingside High Street, and Mossford Green. Buses turned right out of Tanners Lane into the High Street at the north end of which they turned round on the roundabout at Fullwell Cross [note the spelling of Fullwell - slightly different from the former LUT Fulwell depot]. On the return approach from Ilford 691s turned from Ley Street left into Hainault Street and right into High Road, joining the 693s to Barking. 663s leaving from the Ilford terminus turned left out of Balfour Approach into Ley Street, right into Hainault Street, and then right into High Road. Following the withdrawal in 1959 of route 695 the extension of 663 to Chadwell Heath was a weekdays only operation - like the 695. On Sundays and Bank and Public Holidays the eastern terminus of 663 remained Ilford Broadway.

Route 691 destination blinds for buses in classes SA1 and SA2 showed:


For a short time the "&" was omitted. Class SA3, with smaller front boxes, showed:


I travelled almost daily on the Ilford trolleybuses from the mid-40s until their demise.

From: "Benn White" <>

I found your site recently and it brought back many memories of my childhood. I was born in Seven Kings and although I left, aged 3, in 1950, I regularly visited my Grandparents there until the mid 1960's and used often to travel on the trolleys when doing so. I am surprised that you don't mention the unique nature of the SA1, 2 & 3 classes shown in most of your pictures. I well remember the white ceilings and [in some at least] the dark smoked drop glasses fitted to cope better with their originally intended South African destination. I seem also to remember that having removed the front exit door, LT left the unglazed partition in place and fitted a rearward facing 5 seat bench across the front bulkhead, but I may be wrong on this.

Other memories include exciting [for a small boy] de-wirements on Ilford Broadway, anxiously checking that the conductor had set the correct route on the overhead and, although not specific to trolleys, granite sett road surfaces, particularly at Stratford Broadway I think. Even less to do with buses, can I really remember a shop on Ilford High Road called Bodgers?

As I said, thanks for the memories, it all seems a long time ago now!


On the subject of the Ilford trolleybuses, there are some good shots of them in the Online video of "London Trolleybuses - Part One", including the diversion via Hainault Street. It also contains extensive coverage of routes 654 and the 696/698.

Seeing your colour photos makes me regret that I did not have much knowledge of photography in the 1950s; even worse, when I did start taking slides it was in early 1962 and, what's more, I was at college in St. John's Street just down from The Angel where the Smithfield-bound trolleys went past the door. Still, at that time, it was the fair sex that had my greater attention - these women have a lot to answer for!

From: "Chris Cook" <>

Is the Teddy boy by the railings known to you?

From: "Rennie Kim" <>

Photo 152 makes reference to a "teddy boy" observing the 'wrong road' operation of trolleybuses in a deserted Barkingside High Street. Isn't it actually a conductor wearing summer LT uniform - blue serge trousers, light-grey cotton dust jacket with blue collar? In theory the jacket should have a red collar to match the red T&T cap badge [not worn here] but I think this distinction was phased out after the merger with Central Buses in 1950. Anyway, just a thought!

Notes by David Bradley

I am pretty sure that at no time in the past was Terry Russell ever a "Teddy Boy",! In actual fact during this period of trolleybus abandonment I was regularly with Terry on the same 'shoot' as him - the only difference was that his record of history was taken on a 8mm cine camera whereas my work was 35mm stills.

Most of Terry's work is within the numerous video tapes of transport scenes that are now sold, whereas my collection has only been seen at the '0' Gauge Group's [of the Tramway & Light Railway Society] film/slide shows held in London in the 1960s. At home, it remains to this day to be quite an effort to get the projector and screen out to view the slides, so the ability to have them electronically converted for viewing on a PC screen is great. With a projector you tend to quickly move onto the next slide, but you linger much longer with the image on the PC. I have notice so much more interesting background detail in my pictures that I was totally unaware of before.

I have looked at other road transport sites on the WEB and it is noticeable that in most cases the subject itself almost completely fills the frame, so much so that the picture could have been taken anywhere at any time. I was obliged to stand back while taking my still pictures, so as not to be in the film versions, bit of luck really as the street scenes are now of equal interest as that of the subject. I may not be seen in Terry's films, but it is quite surprising the number of pictures that he appears in. Perhaps I should run a competition that asks "How many pictures on this site does Terry appear in?", with answers to one of those £1 a minute phone lines; the winner selected from those that gave the right answer.

From: "Clive Page"

What memories. Ilford Broadway, waiting for a SA to Barking Park. Manor Park, just missed a 663 for Mile End? Never mind, there is another at 'The Rabbits'. Stratford on misty winter afternoons with the points man in his canvas hut outside Boardmans. Bell punch tickets, salmon coloured three-half pence child. Waiting outside the Spotted Dog Upton Lane for a 687 to take the corner too fast and break the 'fairy lights'.

An excellent site, keep up the good work.


The mention of "Bodgers", as a shop name ......... yes, it did exist, and I seem to remember that it went from the High Street through to a parallel side street just before the railway bridge [leading to Cranbrook Road].

I was born in 1943 and - as a young child and even early teens - remember the bomb sites and especially the bombed cinema [which became "C & A"] at the Ilford Broadway end of Ley Street.

I used to use the trolleybus service to get me to school [Ilford County High for Boys, Barkingside]. I left the area in 1970, and would most likely get lost if I tried to find my way round now!


The comments made above were before I found all the colour photographs of Ilford trolleybuses! I had just viewed the one monochrome image of a trolleybus turning from Ilford High Road into Ilford Lane, and that had excited me enough to put pen to paper!

When I later viewed the colour images, I was absolutely amazed to see that the very bus-stop at which I used to stand, 45-50 years ago, was in the photograph entitled "Picture 148: Outside Ilford Depot." Picture 151 shows where I used to get off the trolleybus, in Barkingside, with my school being located a few hundred yards up the next road on the left in the photograph, namely Fremantle Road. It was like stepping back in time.

More pertinent to a website devoted to trolleybuses, I should mention that those buses accelerated very fast, far quicker than the ordinary buses [the RT & later the Routemaster]. One had to hold on tight if still finding a seat - the drivers did not wait until passengers were seated! I was only young then, so it was not a problem, but I wonder now how it must have been for elderly people. I also seem to remember quite a few occasions when the mechanism which picked up the current from the overhead wires had to be re-located onto those wires. A long wooden pole, stored under the bus, was used.

Finally, Picture 546, with Rossi's in the background, brought back memories, which strangely I had only just been mentioning here at home that very evening. I can remember wonderful ice-cream sodas which we had there when my parents took me there as a child.

From: "Morris Hickey" <>

The rewiring in Ilford using Hainault Street bridge had nothing to do with the fire at Harrison Gibson's. A road widening scheme at Ilford Lane and Station Road required the closure of part of the carriageway of Station Road, resulting in it being wide enough only for a single line of traffic northbound. Hainault Street was therefore used for the displaced southbound traffic - including motor bus routes 145 [Chingford to Dagenham, daily] 147 [Redbridge to East Ham, weekdays] 148 [Leytonstone to Dagenham, daily] 150A [Lambourne End to East Ham, Sundays] as well as trolleybuses 663 and 691.


Having read this again my political associate Peter Golds is not wholly accurate. Hainault Street was NEVER wired up for two-way operation. As I have indicated, 145s from Dagenham to Chingford, 147s from East Ham to Redbridge, 1482 from Dagenham to Leytonstone, 150As from East Ham to Lambourne End, 663s terminating at Ilford and 691s from Barking to Barkingside all headed north via Station Road. They headed south via Hainault Street.

From: "Lawrence Murphy" <>

This picture is of special interest to me because I lived at Ilford Broadway from 1942 until January 1960. My house was over Weaver to Wearer's on the left of Rossi Ice Cream parlour and there is just a small section of our house window in the shot. If the shot included just a little more of the window, I am sure I would be there looking at the buses and trolleybuses.

For the serious enthusiasts, the shot is also interesting because of the Depot and Running Number plates ["ID" and "9"]. In 1957 and before the cuts made as a result of the 1958 bus strike, Ilford ran 21 trolleybuses on route 691 [ID 1 to ID 21], 12 on route 693 [ID 31 to ID 42] and 2 on route 695 [ID 51 and ID 52]. At certain times each of the routes required more than this number, and a trolleybus would change from route 691 to 693 or vice versa.

Thus in picture 546, Trolleybus 1727 was scheduled on route 691 but had changed to a 693 at the time the photo was taken. The angle at which is was taken is ideal to illustrate this fact. It also gives an excellent impression of where the blocked off front doors were located.

Some wonderful pictures of an excellent form of transport.

From: "Peter Midlane" <>

My son found your Web site and told me about it, which has brought back many memories. I used to travel on the 691 from 'The Plough' [soon to be demolished] in Ilford Lane to Barkingside High Street on my way to Ilford County High School.

I have been a member of St Margaret's Parish Church in Barking since I was a boy and remember watching one of the local bands leading the Mayors procession after either the Remembrance Day Service or Civic Service and hearing later that the Drum Major had tossed his baton too high and it had hit the overhead wires. As a result of the resulting 'short' it got welded to the wires and stopped all the trolleybuses until it could be removed! If I remember this correctly it happened in East Street so it would probably have been before the new Town Hall was built.

Many thanks for your pictures.

From: "John Wallbank" <>

The Gaumont Cinema which was on the ex-Woolworths site was called the Super Cinema. There was a bus stop next to it.

From: "Kay Zakarija [nee Jafferson]" <>

I have just come across your page about trolleybuses. I was born in Ilford Maternity Home in 1943 and grew up in Fencepiece Road. I remember a particularly bad smell associated with the trolleybuses and the flashing lights and loud clicking noises. I remember one bad winter when there was thick fog in Barkingside and a conductor had to walk in front of the trolleybus all the way up the High Street,with a lantern.

My father was foreman mechanic at the bus depot in Ley Street and he used to drive the big double decker around the yard with me ringing the bell when I was little. My father's sister, Aunt Win was head cook at the depot canteen for many years.

I used to ogle the cakes and treats in Rossi Brothers [or Rossi Bros as I called it], but never had anything from there in my life, as my Mum wouldn't buy anything that was Italian, or German either come to that. I used to love to go to Bodgers! We were taken there before Christmas to choose our 'big 'present', and to have a photo taken.

I emigrated to Sydney in 1963, but have been back a few times as my Mum and Dad are buried in the churchyard at Holy Trinity Church near the Chequers that used to be on the corner of Cranbrook Road. What great memories. Thanks for the photos!

Kay Zakarija [nee Jafferson], Sydney, Australia.