Trolley Bus Reminiscence

In 1940 I was evacuated from London to live with my grandparents in Cross Hands. Every Saturday, we would take the bus to Llanelli (either Western Welsh, which had magenta buses, or United Welsh which had blue buses, or James buses, which were orange) to visit aunts in Felinfoel.

We'd visit the aunts and then take the silent trolleybus downtown to go shopping in the market. Now, if I had been well-behaved during the morning, I'd be taken to a restaurant whose upstairs dining room was just across the street from the gates of the market. If we were very lucky we'd have a seat by the window which seemed to be about the same height as the trolley wires, from which I could look down as the conductor jumped out, pulled on the handle which operated the points, then jumped back on as soon as the trolley arms had passed the points.

Wye-ing is a method of turning a vehicle aroundAt that time, reversing the trolleybus at the Felinfoel terminus was tricky, as there was no roundabout or loop. Coming from the direction of Llanelly, the route turned right off the main road and almost immediately came to a T-junction with a narrow road which followed a stone wall around the church (as I remember it). The driver would stop, and reverse his bus back past the T, while the conductor pulled the points handle and also waved the driver to back up further when the road was clear (it always was!). Then the conductor would hop back on board, and the driver was able to drive ahead and turn towards the main road. (This is called wye-ing in Canada).

Trolley Bus 1951 in front Llanelli Station with D. John Welder and Blacksmith at rearI was taken into hospital for surgery during this period - the children's ward of the Llanelly General Hospital. Coincidentally, my across-the-street neighbour here in Canada was also in that children's ward, at about the same time. Small world. After surgery, I had to convalesce. I was sat down in a chair in the back garden in Cross Hands with instructions ‘not to move’ from the chair. However, one day I heard a loud roaring of engines in the street, which I could not resist. In the street was a brown-and-cream trolleybus being towed by a heavy-duty road tractor. The crew were making a third attempt to pull the trolleybus up Heol Bryn-Gwili. This also failed. The crew did some tricky shunting and went another way. Years later I recognized the livery of that trolleybus: it had come from Bournemouth, presumably on loan to Llanelli for the duration of the war. I took the accompanying picture near Llanelly station in 1951. This trolleybus has a different destination indicator and cleaner lines than the ones shown in the article LCH0154.

Dewi Williams currently lives in Canada from where he contacted us. Click here for his website

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