Book Review by Terry Brown (Lund, Sweden)
Brighton Trolleybuses (Trolleybus Classics no. 18) by Andrew Henbest 120 black-and-white photos, Middleton Press (www.middletonpress.co.uk), £14.95
At last, a book about the long gone, silent service of Brighton. Long gone also are the days when my mother and I stormed up either Beaconsfield Villas or Ditchling Road in a trolleybus to Preston Drove on visits to Auntie Mabel and Uncle Alf, who lived a short distance from Fiveways. A service replaced by sturdy diesels, literally grinding their way up these steep hills and polluting the environment. Trolleybuses fitted so well into the town’s geography.
As a result of a joint agreement between Brighton Corporation and the Brighton, Hove and District Omnibus Company (BHD) in 1938, the trams were scrapped and replaced by buses and trolleybuses in 1939. The Corporation was to provide 72.5% of traffic and the BHD 27.5%. All vehicles were to carry the fleet name Brighton, Hove & District Transport and at its height the Corporation had 52 trolleybuses and the BHD 11.
This book is of the standard layout for this series, with a short history, route map, tickets and fleet details including scale drawings (scale 1.76) for the modellers. The trolleybuses star in the photographs to describe each route and district served by them. Most of the pictures are from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, but there are also some gems from the earlier days.
The book takes one back to a period long lost. The days of the corner shop, the small parades where daily shopping was done with personal service. Also the luxurious Corporation fleet with its seaside status and Alhambrinal ceilings in the lower decks, pride taken in the fleet’s presentation and crews who enjoyed an entirely different status than that of today. The buses/trolleybuses of that period were the ‘kings of the road’.
Most of the architecture in the pictures is easily recognisable as little has changed on the former trolleybus routes down through the years. Only the traffic situation has changed, resulting in new road layouts and of course more modern vehicles.
For the trolleybus enthusiast this book is most welcome, but even for those interested in their home town there is much of interest to be found. I warmly recommend this publication to both categories and hope they will find it most enjoyable.