Station Road, West Croydon - Boarding the tram or trolleybus

Boarding at West Croydon
Click on picture [58] for an enlarged version

Notes by David Bradley.

This is Station Road, West Croydon in 1959, with a healthy number of passengers boarding to travel route 654, some of whom might have travelled all the way to its terminus at Crystal Palace. A few moments earlier a 630 trolleybus had discharged a small group of passengers at its final stop before turning at the bottom of Station Road for another trip to Harlesden. From this stop you could be whisked off to either Chalk Farm on route 68 or the 75 to Woolwich, with extra routes 57A and 159 for either Victoria or West Hampstead operating at various times over the weekend.

Trolleybus route 654 ceased in March, 1959 with route 630 being withdrawn in July, 1960, less than a decade earlier local tram services disappeared in April, 1951. Quite remarkable to think that trams have once again returned to Station Road a half a century later sporting fleet numbers that continued on from those of the past. As for Trolleybuses? Almost certainly they will return as well, it really is all change!

 Fist Day of Services
Click on picture [1012] for an enlarged version


The camera captures passengers boarding a tram on route 3 to New Addington on the first day of service in May 2000. It may be a tram stop but there is certainly no need to clamber aboard, the pavement has been raised to the floor level of the tram, it is however necessary to understand that passengers have to operate the doors!

Station Road, West Croydon c1920
Click on picture [JK15] for an enlarged version
Picture provided by John King

Picture 1012 was taken on the first day of Tramlink operation but almost 70 years previously you could board a tram from almost the same location but to destinations of Crystal Palace or Penge instead of New Addington or Beckenham Junction. Here we see a crowd gathering to board SMET car #43 with full air conditioning on the upper deck. I suspect the picture is c1920 although it could be just prior to the outbreak of WWI.

Unlike today this tram stop was right outside a former entrance to the railway station entrance. Attempts to provide a similar interchange facility for Tramlink's present boarding point, located further down the road, are frustrated by financial considerations in re-opening an original entrance that complies with today's disability legislation.

From: "G Frewin" <>

I came across your site by chance last week, while searching the net for information on alternative proposals to the West London Tramlink project - in my view, a ridiculously expensive scheme. I'm somehow convinced that the "success" of the Croydon Tramlink boils down to just one factor: 90%+ of it is running as more of a light railway than an urban tram system - and not on the local roads. Here in West London, there's NO CHANCE of something similar, with the entire length of the Uxbridge Road planned as the intended target of the scheme! But enough of that for now, as the reason that prompts me to write, is really quite different.

I am truly amazed by your site, where over the past ten days, I've been able to spend considerable time, literally hours and hours, reading everything, re-reading everything, and endlessly marvelling at so many of the photographs.

Some have caught my attention in particular - one being Pole 135A and the 630 at Hammersmith [with associated stories], another being Picture 58 [shown on this page] of a 654 [CGF74] picking up passengers at West Croydon Station in 1959, rear view. These photos and quite a few others too, are more than just mere Trolleybus photos - they are really ARTISTIC for one reason or another, and are consequently some of the "star" pictures on the site! Also catching my attention for other reasons: Picture 827 - Ex London #148 [GTMT #21]. I recognise the location as Shepherds Bush Green, and the Trolleybus is parked at the terminal point on the South Side of the Green at the eastern end, facing westwards. The junction with Rockley Road will be found immediately behind the cameraman, on his right. The Trolley appears driver less. The photo is circa 1946 - 52; the RT-type bus in the picture background, seen on the north side of the Green moving eastwards, has CREAM upper window surrounds- standard bus livery for this period.

My interest in London Buses, and Trolleybuses in particular [always the preferred mode of travel for me, over Buses or the Underground], started at the age of nine years and eleven months, when somehow I persuaded my father to allow me to go "exploring", with a Red Rover Ticket. That was in February 1958, and during the next four years, largely unknown to my parents, I'd "explored" as far as Epping, Romford, Hornchurch, Sidcup, Bromley, South Croydon, Kingston, Heathrow Airport, Uxbridge and Watford, visiting EVERY bus garage along the way, and somehow managing to return home [we lived in New Barnet] by 7 p.m. unharmed, neither kidnapped nor abducted!

The preferred day of the week for the misadventure was always a Sunday, the day when the bus garages were at their fullest. At the peak of this activity 1959 - 1960, 25 such trips were made by me EACH YEAR - and I still have the Rover tickets! I'd learnt by heart so very many of the bus routes, and ALL the Trolleybus routes; their terminal points, how they got from one to the other, all the "short working" points, all the "Garage Codes", the type of bus on each route and at each garage [RT, RTL, RTW etc], and much much more. I'd also collected the "odd souvenir" along my travels - my father was none too pleased by it!

To this day, I have 8 posters found "hanging off" various Trolleybus poles - yellow backgrounds - red type - proclaiming "Buses for Trolleybuses", for Routes 521, 609, 621, 659, 629, 641, 645 and 660, but my "prize possession" [now mysteriously disappeared - thanks dad!] was a full-size fare chart for Route 567; the chart as used for in-vehicle display. I might add that this was NOT "found" by some late-50's pre-teen hooligan or vandal, running the gauntlet from the staff at Poplar Depot, to get out of the place as quickly as possible with my prize! My special souvenir was "discovered" at Colindale Depot, inside one of the Trolleybuses obviously fast on its way to the adjoining scrap-yard, but I think my father took a different view. I'm wondering whether Trolleybus [or Bus] fare charts will ever be reprinted in some publication, or appear on dedicated sites, such as this - it would be great! I also still have several local [Barnet Area] bus and coach timetables from 1959/1960, each giving first and last journey information for Routes 609 and 645, set out in timetable format, and quite a few Central Area AND Country Area Bus Maps, variously dated between 1958 and 1962. But disappeared, along with the Fare Chart, are my treasured Ian Allan Bus Spotters books, and a certain notebook, full of detailed destination-blind information, that I'd accumulated on my various visits to all the Central Area Bus Garages, with few - if any - exceptions.

I also have some unpublished original photos from this time, just 15 of them, and all taken by me on my father's camera between Christmas 1960 and February 1961, when I was just 12 years old! Five are too dark to be of much use - really not good enough, but the remaining 10 have possibilities for eventual display. There are no negatives, only B&W prints survive. Highlights include: Parliament Hill Fields terminus point [Trolley 1526 on route 615], Enfield [1312 on route 629], various shots at North Finchley and Holborn, and a trio of shots at Colindale Depot, including 2 of the scrap yard at the back, with one remarkable shot taken from the low wall at the far end of the depot, overlooking the scrap-site and beyond. All I need now, is a SCANNER!

Almost coinciding with the withdrawal of London's last trolleybus in May 1962, so ended more than 4 years of my exploring via London Transport. My last Rover was on Sunday 27th May 1962, when [I still remember!] I visited both Stonebridge and Willesden Bus Garages, probably to see the new RM's at the former, and old RTW's at the latter. There are several reasons that come to mind, explaining why I stopped - I had just turned 14, the price of Rovers had increased in March 1962 from 2/6d to 3 shillings, and from my 14th birthday - also in March - I would need to buy an ADULT ticket; that's 6 whole shillings, and I was quite tall for my age, so no getting away with a half-fare! My local cinema would believe that I was in fact 16, so possibilities were opening here, for unrestricted access to ALL their films! And for my 14th birthday, my parents had bought me a bike - with drop handlebars and five-speed gears - possibly as a well-intentioned bribe, to spend more time on school homework! I was also taking a big interest in early-60's, pre-Beatles American Pop Music - so not a lot of room left for buses, and my beloved Trolleybuses had all now gone!

Inspired by a my visits this week to your site, and by an apparent need to increase awareness of London's former Trolleybus System, especially in the context of the West London [and indeed, any future] Tramlink proposals, I have put together a complete listing of all the Trolleybus Services lost in the Conversion Scheme of 1959 - 1962, for whoever is sufficiently interested enough, to want to know more. I cannot find any of this information on the internet - it is certainly not to be found on any of the "Bus" sites, nor on any other Trolleybus site. The prime sources for this information, were; Central Area Bus Maps 1958 - 1962, Geographers' Master Atlas of Greater London [no copyright date, but it's a mid-1960's edition], a rare Geographers' Atlas of Central London from around the mid-1950's [again, no copyright date shown], and from of course, my own memory. Not least, I confirmed some addresses of the various Depots, with information printed in "London Transport Bus Garages Since 1948" by J. Joyce [1988].

Thank you for such a wonderful and informative site - I shall be back, often!

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Peter Gibbon's Tramlink map is from: