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NTA Vehicles
Bournemouth 202 Huddersfield 541 Belfast 168 Hastings 45 NTA Depot

Wolverhampton 654
Wolverhampton 654

Wolverhampton 654 is the only example of a two-axle trolleybus in the NTA's fleet. It was numerically the last trolleybus in the Wolverhampton fleet, although in practice sister vehicle 652 was the last to be built.

Wolverhampton occupies a trebly significant place in British trolleybus history. It was a British pioneer in the use of this type of vehicle when operation commenced in 1923 and by the late 1920s and early 1930s it had become by some margin the largest trolleybus operator anywhere in the world; many foreign delegations beat a path to its door to see for themselves the attributes and capabilities of this form of public transport. Secondly, the firm of Guy Motors was based in the town and developed a series of trolleybus chassis which were widely adopted by operators in the inter-war years and, to a lesser extent, the post-war era. The Sunbeam Trolleybus Company was also based in the town. Wolverhampton Corporation was understandably supportive of its local industries and steadfastly placed orders for the products of these manufacturers throughout the life of the trolleybus system. 654, a two-axle chassis of type BT built in 1950, was one of the last batch of trolleybus chassis built by Guy, as part of a massive fleet-renewal order for 99 trolleybuses placed by the General Manager, Charles Owen Silvers, shortly before his retirement. 654's double-deck rear-entrance open-platform bodywork is by Park Royal, with 54 seats. A feature of the Guy chassis is the split placement of the electrical contactor equipment, with the series notches being located in the conventional cabinet in the driver's cab and the parallel notches amidships under the lower saloon floor.

Wolverhampton 654

Wolverhampton 654
For the final day of trolleybus operation in Wolverhampton, Sunday 5 March 1967, the Association's preserved Guy BT trolleybus 654 was specially repainted into original livery and operated a members' tour. It is seen in these images between Fighting Cocks and Sedgley, and turning into Stone Street.
(Photos Robin Helliar-Symons)

Another reason for the inclusion of a Wolverhampton trolleybus in the NTA fleet is that the town was effectively the birthplace of the Association, when an inaugural meeting took place at the Dog & Gun public house at Tettenhall on 10 November 1963. Throughout the remaining years of the Wolverhampton system until its final closure on 5 March 1967, the NTA maintained the most cordial relations with the Corporation's transport department, which displayed a benign attitude towards its objectives, resulting in the operation of several of its historic trolleybuses under the remaining wiring and the free use of facilities at Cleveland Road depot for the carrying out of essential work on members of its fleet.

654 was presented to the NTA by the Wolverhampton Corporation in 1965 and subsequently externally repainted into its original livery of apple green and yellow with grey roof. In this condition it operated a last day tour of the system alongside another member of the then NTA fleet, Rotherham Daimler 44.

Wolverhampton 654
Also seen standing at the Dudley terminal setting-down point in Stone Street.
(Photo David Pearson)

After the Wolverhampton closure, 654 was moved to a local Ministry of Defence site where the hopes of secure storage were shattered when all of its windows were broken by vandalism in 1968. As a result, 654 moved to the back of the restoration queue and for many years has been stored in Northamptonshire under ideal conditions, with covered facilities supplemented by a continuous flow of air. As a result, although the bodywork currently appears degraded, its structure is actually very sound.

The NTA Board has resolved that once the present restoration project on Belfast 168 is completed, Wolverhampton 654 will be fully restored and returned to operating condition after languishing for perhaps too long as the Cinderella of the NTA fleet.

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