THE outstanding vehicle at the International Commercial Motor Transport exhibition, at London’s Earl’s Court in September 1950, was this single-decker trolleybus on order for Glasgow Corporation, the first of its kind in the country.

The electrically-powered trolleybus could seat 28 people, with maximum standing room for 37. The conductor remained seated, behind a hinged wooden counter bearing a ticket machine, push-button door control, and a signalling button. Safety devices included a ‘trick’ step next to the driver’s compartment, which caused a warning signal to be sounded when depressed by a passenger’s feet. “The general impression”, this paper marvelled, “is one of extreme comfort and novel design”.

Glasgow had inaugurated its trolleybus service at midday on April 3, 1949, when five vehicles ran the route between Provanmill and Polmadie. Such was the passenger interest in them that they had to be augmented by ordinary buses.

In a pamphlet on Glasgow’s Trolleybuses, author Brian Deans quoted Glasgow’s Transport Manager, Eric Fitzpayne, to the effect that the new arrivals did not mean that the city was about to scrap its much-used trams. “The trolleybus is certainly a pleasanter vehicle for the passenger than the motorbus,’’ Mr Fitzpayne said. ‘’It is quieter, with no engine vibration, and is free from smell and fumes.’’

It was certainly quieter: as Carl McDougall once observed in the Evening Times, passengers had to be careful, especially at bus stops. “Unless you saw them coming, you were not aware the trolleys were there. This uncanny silence gave them the nickname of the ‘’silent death’. They also accelerated quickly, which meant you had to find a seat immediately, or lose your balance”.

The trolleybus, the power for which was generated at Pinkston power station, lasted until 1967. It never attained the popularity of the trams but, even so, when a group of transport enthusiasts organised a special tour to mark the end of electrically-powered transport in the city’s streets, they still managed to fill two trolleybuses.

In May 2017, fifty years after the last trolleybus service in Glasgow, Corporation trolleybus TBS 13 went on display at the Riverside Museum; John Messner, curator of transport at the museum, is shown here inside it.

Today, many believe that cities erred in scrapping trolleybuses. Stuart Cole, professor of transport at the University of South Wales, recently told the BBC: “They were clean, quiet and the technology would only have improved, as we have seen in many European cities.

"With the current thinking over getting away from fossil fuels and dealing with the pollution in city centres, it is inevitable they will come back, and a number of local authorities are looking at that possibility.”

Read more: Herald Diary