An exhibition of Reading trolleybus history opened at Reading Museum on 14 August. Items on show will delight the transport enthusiast and local historian. This is one of several events in Reading and at the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft near Doncaster to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of Reading’s trolleybus system.
The first commercial trolleybus service operated between Caversham Bridge and Whitley Street from 18 July 1936. This was not strictly the first trolleybus to operate in Reading as members of the public had been able to buy tickets on a training vehicle that had run along Erleigh Road since May. The trolleybus replaced tram routes all over Reading until the last tram ran on 20 May 1939.
Trolleybus routes were created to new housing estates in south Reading in 1949, but they only ran for less than twenty years. The last trolleybus to Whitley Wood ran on Sunday 8 January 1967 and to Northumberland Avenue on 31 December 1967. The last ever trolleybus was from Tilehurst to Wokingham Road on 3 November 1968.
The exhibition has been curated by Dave Hall, archivist of the British Trolleybus Society and an authority on Reading’s trolleybuses. The society meets on the first Friday of every month (except August) at 7.30pm at the Oddfellows Hall, Oxford Road, RG1 7NQ.
To accompany the exhibition, the society have produced a limited number of free booklets with images of a local interest: a trolleybus going south on Southampton Street (you can just see the Hop Leaf public house sign in the distance) and a trolleybus reversing from Whitley Wood Lane into Whitley Wood Road. There is also a photograph of once Katesgrove (now Battle) ward councillor Gul Khan in his younger days when he was a trolleybus driver.
The exhibition continues until 3 November 2018 and is open during normal Museum opening hours 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday.
There will be a presentation Remembering Reading’s Trolleybuses with films and photos on Friday 2 November at 7pm at the Town Hall; admission is free and bookings can be made via Eventbrite.
On Saturday 3 November a vintage Reading trolleybus will be on display outside the Town Hall.