Class A1 Trolleybus Diddler
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Notes About This Vehicle

To many people, myself included, trolleybuses were highly characteristic of their time and still provide many happy memories. To those of my age, they had a significant impact on our formative years.
Charlie Wyatt’s delightful book ‘Beneath the Wires of London’ (, 2008) brought many smiles to my face and the picture on page 136, showing a class J2 trolleybus in service on my local route 609 from Finchley depot, inspired this drawing.
London United Tramways operated the first trolleybuses in passenger service in London from its Fulwell depot on 16th May 1931, replacing trams. The formation of London Transport in July 1933 brought the LUT under its control.
London Transport began a full-scale programme of replacing trams with trolleybuses in 1935. Over the following five years many different classes of trolleybus were built, the chassis or running units being supplied by either AEC or Leyland and the bodies by no fewer than seven makers. The classes were identified by a sequence of alpha-numeric codes starting at A and concluding with P. (The post-war Qs had chassis by BUT.) Eventually the fleet became by far the largest in Britain, peaking at over 1800 in 1952. The J2 class carried fleet numbers in the range 955 to 1029. They had chassis and running units built by AEC with bodies by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company and entered service in 1938.
In 1954 the decision was taken to replace London’s trolleybuses with motor buses. Stage 1 of the conversion programme took place on 13th March 1959 and the last London trolleybus ran on the night of 8th May 1962, also from Fulwell depot.
Other than classes A1 and A2 (curiously nicknamed ‘Diddlers’), London trolleybuses are often described as ‘all looking the same’. Outwardly they were indeed quite similar but in truth they varied enormously in detail, as the research for this drawing demonstrated to me. This was inevitable, having been constructed by several different makers and with the design undergoing a natural evolution as operating experience was gained.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing attempts to show a typical vehicle of class J2 as closely as possible to how it looked in its later days in service. It is based on an undated London Transport ‘general arrangement’ drawing, reference ‘TB2’. This type of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, is not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.
All the fine detail has been sourced from several black & white photographs and a lot of interpretation from the few colour images of sufficient quality that could be found.
None of the detail can be regarded as definitive. For practical reasons the overhead wires are shown here lower than the normal operating height.
It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.
Sadly no class J2 vehicle survives, but a K2 can be seen in the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. A number of other vehicles were privately preserved and several are at the East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville.
drawing copyright Douglas Rose June 2012
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