London Trolleybus on Route 654
passing through South Norwood High Street

 High Street, South Norwood
Click on picture [39] for an enlarged version
 Trams in High Street, South Norwood
Click on picture [HT25] for an enlarged version
By South Norwood Clock Tower
Click on picture [0430] for an enlarged version

Comment by David Bradley:

These two pictures are separated by 50 years as the tram picture was taken around 1910 and the trolleybus picture as recently as 1959. The trams may have gone but otherwise it is very difficult to see any changes to this local scene. Returning there in 2002, this bustling shopping centre has seen trade decimated by competition from out of town super stores, coupled with unnecessarily harsh parking restrictions for local trade.

In the early 1950s I used to attend the nearby Stanley Technical School, travelling by the direct train service from Thornton Heath to Norwood Junction [even that's not possible today] and then walking along this very road to school. Strange to say I remember almost nothing of this daily walk other than it seemed a very busy road!

The Tesco shop seen in picture 39 was about as big as they got in the late 1950s, with competition then from Lipton's, Victor Value, David Gregg and the Home & Colonial, to name but a few food stores that have also gone with the trolleybuses. The concept of self service was quite new and there remained in places like the Co-Op, money being transported to a central cash desk in small containers travelling on overhead wiring from each sales counter. [When did the last 'system' close down?] Whatever you bought was carried home, so frequent journeys to the "shops" was necessary.

From: "Andrew Buxton" <>

Regarding the question: "When did the last [overhead cash] system close down?", I have a website on cash carriers - please see

There was a wire system in London up to April last year [Grouts of Palmers Green] though not in daily use. There is still a pneumatic tube system at Arding & Hobbs, Clapham Junction - or at least there was in February this year.

I would welcome any more information for my site.

From: "George Hugh Spark" <>

I remember the 654 route particularly well as I lived near the Clock at South Norwood, and travelled to John Ruskin school on Tamworth Road every day. I can remember the regular occurrence when the trolley arm came off when the 630 turned at West Croydon Station, we used to count how many times it happened each week! This was during the war years. I have lived in Australia for the past 37 years.

From: "Rob Hogan" <>

Thank you for an absolutely fascinating set of pics around Croydon and South Norwood. The colour is brill and really brings out the atmosphere of the area at that time.

I've wasted the best part of an hour searching out all them interesting pics.

Best of luck with the website.

From: "Ray Bradley" <>

Just like to say how much I enjoy looking at your photos of Sth Norwood. I was born there, I live in West Sussex now. Looking at the photos brings back memories. I have the one with the trolleybus as background.

From: "Julie Kelly" <>

Stumbled on this site when looking into aspects of South Norwood. My Grandfather was born in Addison Road. He started work at 12 - he was a baker [cakes] for Coldrey's in Clifford Road and his brother George worked for another bakers [bread] in Portland Road. My father was born in South Norwood in 1928 and attended Stanley Technical High School.

From: "Phil Gostling" <>

Just read your article about the 654 trolleybus, and did that stir some memories. I lived in South Norwood from 1940 to 1957 and used to catch the 654 to my school in Croydon, John Ruskin. I started work in 1943, at 14 with a motor garage in Selhurst Rd called David Kennerdy, it was not far up from the clock tower. I used to live in Michael Road, about ten minutes on my bike.

From: "James Kennedy" <>

I lived in South Norwood until 1965 and have fond memories of the 654. I loved the Trolleybuses quiet, spacious and quick. The 654 used to stop at a fare stage opposite Kennedy's Garage in Selhurst Road and I remember on two occasions as the Trolleybus pulled away one of the pick arms detached from the overhead power supply. The Trolleybus was equipped with a long pole to re-attach the arm to the overhead supply. On one occasion the wind was very strong and the driver couldn't re-attach the pick-up arm. Frank Reading who worked for my dad at the garage was sent for and he arrived with a double ladder and shinned up the ladder defying death and manually reattached the arm. To the great relief to the passengers we were soon underway.