Memories of Trolleybuses in Maidstone and London [Woolwich]

From: "Ted Ross" <>

In 1932 plus we lived just around the corner from Abbey Wood tram 'shed' I started off with trams 36,38,40,42,46 and 72. not to mention the old Erith trams that were still running to Abbey Wood. They terminated just around the corner and never the tracks did meet.

I don't know when the 698 first appeared. My only early recollection was of coming home with my Mum from Plumstead. I played with a brass toy truck along the window! I use to travel to Woolwich frequently, on my own often going "over the water" to my cousins. In those days a youngster could travel for miles alone and no one worried. Over at North Woolwich, I was more interested in trying to spy a steam engine. I never did. I could of course have walked round two corners and along towards Silvertown, but I had other things more important to do! Well we had the coal trains drawn by steam, but that wasn't the same! The first such train I saw/travelled on was from Kings Cross to Darlington thence Catterick!

In the thirties, the 696/698 terminated at Woolwich Power Station where the trams changed from plough to trolley. I never heard of or saw a 694. I can't recall when the terminus moved to Parsons Hill outside the Odeon.

In the last days of August 1939 with a label in my button hole, belongings in a pillow case and younger brothers in both hands, we walked down to the *RACS in McLeod Road, boarded a tram and travelled to Woolwich where we caught the hourly fast down - front three to Rochester Chatham and Gillingham, and the rear three coaches Cuxton, Halling, Snodland, New Hythe, Ayelsford, Maidstone Barracks, and Maidstone West. Thirty[?] miles down the line.

I have a picture of Tram Car 344 sitting at that very spot, circa forties. A woman at my local library copied it for me years ago. There are three identifying features which tell me where it is! Bostall Lane/McLeod Road.

 Early Maidstone Trolleybus
Click on picture [wlw001] for an enlarged version
[from the Dewi collection]

Outside Maidstone West Stn. stood several Green and Cream Mud and Dust buses. We were dropped off on Linton Road, Loose, just below the Star Inn. Every Friday Morning I had to walk to the King's Head trolley bus terminus, and into Town to do some shopping. In those days we only went to school half days. Returning home with two wicker baskets full of whatever, I could ride on the Mud and Dust bus that turned left at Linton cross roads and on to Boughton etc. It was a long long time before one could ride to Coxheath.

The trolleybuses in those days were the old sit up and beg type with the drivers cab projecting from the from, and the destination box sat on top of his head!

I went back to the area for several years before I changed the colour of my suit, but by this time I was driving a small van, and didn't travel often on the Trolleybuses.