Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 28 October 2011

Pleasure Rides

“And the constant click and kissing of trolley buses hissing
Is the level of the Wealdstone turned to waves”
                                 John Betjeman ‘Harrow-on-the-Hill'

Melbourne Tram 2007

Melbourne Tram with distinctly non-Royal passengers 
In the newspaper report of the Queen’s visit to Melbourne Australia this week, there is a description of the ride she and the Duke of Edinburgh took on one of Melbourne’s famous trams. Everyone in Melbourne uses them, except that not everybody who rides the No 8 tram rides in one with a Royal crest on the side. The monarch doesn’t carry cash so the equerry had to stump up the $2.80 for the ride.

Alan’s Sepia Saturday prompt this week was a picture of an early omnibus, so the connection was irresistible.

These two pictures of Melbourne trams were taken by my husband in 2007. Comparing them with today’s images, these look positively drab, but perhaps it was because they hadn’t been painted red, white and blue and been completely refurbished inside!

Melbourne isn’t the only place famous for trams, and my home city of Nottingham has a long history of first trams, then trolleybuses, and then trams again!

Click on any picture to enlarge in Lightbox Slideshow format
The No 43 Trolleybus

When I was a youngster I loved to ride the trolleybus from The Square, in Nottingham’s city centre, to Trent Bridge where my maternal grandparents lived. I would catch the very ordinary no 57 bus from my home in Arnold to the city, and then walk across to the trolleybus stop for the no 43, which would have ‘Trent Bridge via Arkwright Street’ emblazoned on the front. This was my favourite part of the journey. Sometimes I’d be accompanied by my Mum and then, later, when I was deemed old enough, I’d go alone; very exciting. If I was staying with my Gran in the school holidays we sometimes did the reverse trip from Trent Bridge to the city’s old covered market, where we had a great time wandering the stalls and buying little treats. 
A trip to my grandparents was something I always loved. The whole experience of staying in their neat terraced house on Woodward Street was wonderful; taking walks to the Embankment or strolling round the Memorial Gardens with my granddad, and saying hello to the statue of Queen Victoria which stood there. The Embankment gave us views of West Bridgeford on the other side. This was what would now be described as a ‘sought after’ area but known locally then as ‘bread and lard island’ as the folk who lived there were said to have mortgaged themselves to the hilt and so had to live on bread and lard. There were actually two bridges; Trent Bridge itself and the Wilford Suspension Bridge. Of course there were also rowing boats to watch and swans to feed.

Feeding the swans on the Embankment 1957

To my older brother the journey to Trent Bridge was in the expectation of seeing Nottingham Forest football team play. He told me that he was once on the No 43 coming down the steps from upstairs, with my grandfather following behind, when the driver, thinking all passengers had alighted, pulled away suddenly. My brother tumbled from top to bottom. After that granddad always went down the stairs first!   
My father tells stories from his own childhood of ‘Peg Leg Pete‘, who was probably a WW1 amputee, who would dive from a scaffolding tower on the suspension bridge, whilst someone else went round with a cap and collected coins. In the 1930s my mother remembers that there was a section of the River Trent which was sectioned off for a swimming area with public changing rooms. All that fun at the end of a trolleybus ride! 

The last trolleybus journey was on June 30th 1966, a fact headlined by the Nottingham Post as ‘The End of an Era’. Watching it was 63 year old Bernard Parker, who had put up the first trolleybus wires 39 years earlier, and who said, “As it pulled away a little bit of me died.” 
Albert wasn’t alone in his admiration for the trolleybus and there are still many enthusiasts today. There have been books, websites and forums dedicated to them, and there is even a trolleybus museum in Lincolnshire. I am indebted to one such enthusiast David Bradley, who owns the copyright of the picture of No 43, and who graciously allowed me to use it for this post. If you want to know the difference between a tram and a trolleybus take a look at David’s fascinating website.
Today Nottingham has a spanking new tram service, the Nottingham Express Transit, criss-crossing the city centre and outlying areas bringing commuter travel to the 21st century. But if you fancy a ride do remember that you have to pay. It’s no good relying on your equerry to dip into his own pocket for the £2.50 ride.


  1. Bradford's Industrial Museum Has Several early 1900's Trams on display.You can move around them.....amazing how small & narrow they are inside........But (as with Steam Trains too) something quite exciting about travelling on them ...even the newer one (eg Manchester).I,ve never tried the Nottingham ones yet.Something else for my "TO DO" List!

  2. Hi,i like the pics very much,keep visiting my blog

  3. I tried to get a photo of that Melbourne tram from off the TV screen - not a success. Trent Bridge for me was always about cricket - Compton's 275 in a day, outshone in my opinion by Graveney's 80 on the same day. Later I provided consultancy/audit services to BR in Nottinham. Never got on a bus (or tram) while I was there. Unlikely to have the chance now more's the pity.

  4. Few people talk of enjoying public transport journeys nowadays.Peg Leg Pete's little spectacle sounds like something I'd have travelled to see, especially on a Trolley Bus furnished to a high quality standard!

  5. All such great photos, and especially seeing the latest versions...I wish we had such things to pop on at a moment's notice. I really like the swans coming up to see what goodies there are! We do get lots of ducks at our lakes....!

  6. I enjoyed reading your memories. I think there may have been some trolleybuses where I lived when very young. I do vaguely remember riding on a streetcar once with my mother.

  7. I still (selectively) enjoy public transit. Portland, Oregon has some great streetcars. I even enjoy the bus sometimes. I have to admit that I never knew there was a group of enthusiasts specifically for the trolleybus. What a fun and informative post.

  8. Thanks for the entertaining ride Little Nell. I've ridden on a few trams, but mainly modern ones, and I don't know if I've used a trolleybus, although we still have them in Wellington.

  9. I really enjoyed this. When I was little, we sometime visited my great grandmother's house in Bournemouth, where the trolleybuses were bright yellow.

  10. I'm glad I hopped aboard for this post, thanks!

  11. Hi Little neil,fasinating post.and i check my e mail id and corrected it, thanks alot for telling me.

  12. Enjoyed the trip Nell- I have never ridden a street car or a trolley and I am learning all about them today.

  13. Hi Little Nell, I love this post full of fond memories of you guys visiting your grandparents. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing all of this with us. I've been on a San Francisco cable car, but that is about all. Happy SS ... I didn't have time to pull together a post this week.

    Take care,


  14. Nell,
    I love public transportation but probably more from lack of exposure! Cincinnati's public transport is only useful if you travel predictable routes at predictable times. But, in Boulder and when traveling to Chicago or New York, the car remains parked - who needs it!

    I loved reading your memories and hope to one day take a ride on a tram or trolleybus - but first, off to check out David Bradley's website to learn the difference!

  15. Hi little Nell,
    I enjoyed your trolley memories.
    Is it true they charged the queen for riding the tram?
    So much for royal perks!
    Nancy Javier
    Ladies of the grove

  16. The Queen, of course, still thinks the world smells of fresh paint.

    I didn't have much opportunity to ride in, or even see, trolley buses as a child but I do remember the sparks overhead as they crossed whatever it is that they crossed. Strange the things that stick in your mind.

  17. Nice post. Reminded me of some of my rides on the detroit buses and trolleys.

  18. thanx 4 sharing the memories!!