Routemaster replaces trolleybuses
As is well known, the original intention of London Transport was
that the Routemaster would be used for all phases of the trolleybus
conversion, but it was not available in time for the first three
stages. As a result, the RM never ran from Carshalton
Depot. However, as a taste of what might have been, we will
be operating an AEC-engined Routemaster on the 654 on 15
April. It will run as CN3 as part of the published 154 timetable, with the addition of an early
journey from Crystal Palace.
The 654 route from Sutton to Crystal Palace started life in 1906
as two South Met tram routes from
Croydon, the 5 to Crystal Palace and the 7 to Sutton.
Open-top trams ran on the routes until 1935, when they formed
part of the first phase of the new LPTB's scheme to replace trams
One of the late
1936 batch of 5 B1s, 491 climbs Ringstead Road in Sutton away
from the depot situated on Westmead Road at the foot.
Photo © David Bradley
London United had already introduced trolleybuses in the
Kingston area; the first LPTB routes were the Bexleyheath routes in
November 1935 and the 654 on the 9th December. Initially,
trolleybuses ran only to Croydon, as the Crystal Palace tram route
climbed Anerley Hill and it was decided that (like the trams) the
trolleybuses required coasting and run-back brakes. When
these were fitted and sufficient trolleybuses were available, the
remainder of the route opened on 8 February 1936. The palace
itself was served only for 10 months, as it burned down on 30
November that year.
The 654 service interval was 4 to 7 minutes in 1936, later
extended to 5 to 8 minutes, and required 26
trolleybuses. These formed the only allocation at Sutton
Depot (later Carshalton Depot). All
were of the class B1, which unlike most London trolleybuses were
short wheelbase 60-seaters rather than the standard 70.
Thirty B1s (64-93), Leylands with BRCW bodies, were delivered
in 1935/6 and a further batch of five (489-493) arrived in
mid-1936. A few J3s, fitted with special brakes for Highgate
Hill, were drafted in temporarily in 1958, but otherwise the B1s
had the 654 to themselves.
From 1949, after the Diddlers were withdrawn, the Carshalton
trolleybuses were the oldest in the fleet, so it is not surprising
that the route was selected for early conversion to
motorbuses. Along with the separate Bexleyheath routes, the
654 finished operation in the early hours of 4 March 1959, replaced
by the 154.
For further information on the 654 including a schematic
route map - and a wealth of information and pictures of
trolleybuses - visit David Bradley's excellent site