London Trolleybus Depot at Bexleyheath
|Click on picture  for an enlarged version|
|Click on picture [TR2] for an enlarged version|
|Click on picture  for an enlarged version|
|Click on picture [JK403] for an enlarged version|
Photograph 1200 is from Mark Burstow's collection and is not of the
highest quality - the print from which the scan was taken is not in the best of condition.
It shows the outside of Bexleyheath garage in July 1986. Apart from the loss of the trolley standards and overhead wiring, addition of London Transport roundel's and lettering to the roof, more cars on the forecourt, wooden folding doors replaced with sliding ones, and the replacement of trolleybuses with relatively new Leyland Titan buses, not much had changed in 25 years.
From: "George Rolfe" <email@example.com>
I now live in Canada, and came across this site quite by accident. I know the trolleybus depot well.
I used to live in a tall house near to the old palace cinema, by the Clock Tower.
I do remember the bombs that fell on it early in the second world war. Some men were killed in that raid, I believe. I used to go round there when they were shut to roller skate on the front apron, which was the smoothest concrete for miles around.
I an so old that I can actually remember a ride on a TRAM from Erith around the clock tower. I remember, for some unaccountable reason, that the "new" trolley busses kept the same numbers as the trams. 696 and 698.
My wife's mother kept the tobacconist and general store on the corner of Barnehurst Road and the road that goes down to Barnehurst Station. The shop is still there I think. We were married in St Martins Church, Long Lane.
I take it from the tone of your site that the depot is no longer there. Well, things change.
From: "Ronald Pickrell" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In 1940 I lived almost opposite the trolleybus depot at Bexleyheath, and on the 15th September,
a German bomber was shot down and it dropped some bombs directly on to the depot. We were in the Anderson shelter at
the time and when we came out we found that great damage had been done to the depot and to some of the busses and
of course our house, and a large piece of kerb stone had been blown from the other side of the road right over our
house and into the roof above our bathroom.
Some time later we moved to a house on the other side of the road near St Martins Church and one night a flying bomb landed on the bus depot and set it alight. This did immense damage to the depot and to the busses. I remember the fire engines lined up all along the road and the smoke coming over our house. The following days we found dozens of busses lined up along Pelham road opposite the depot. As children my friends and I had a good time playing on them.
Hope you find this story of some interest. I was very fond of the trolleybuses and it would be nice if we still had them.
From: "John King" <JKing77189@aol.com>
Picture JK403 is Bexleyheath Bus Garage on 9 March 2006. The traffic looks a bit heavier than in 1959!
Comment by David Bradley
The 'modern day' picture JK403 was recently discussed on the Domeus Borough of Bexley Pictures web site and with acknowledgements to those contributors, their comments are reproduced below:
"Richard Haughey" <email@example.com>
I see they have done away with the office block on the right of the building.
The office block on the right you speak of. I can remember watching from the top deck of the 698 Trolley off duty drivers and conductors playing snooker so it must have been some sort of recreation room in the dusty old days!
"John King" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Bexley Depot Suffered quite a bit during the war. First suffered bomb damage in November 1940. The on 29 June 1944 was struck by a Doodle bug. A large number of trolleybuses were damaged, but most were rebuilt.
"John Burch" <email@example.com>
I too was saddened to see that the block to the right of the garage had been demolished to provide more car parking
space for drivers. Time was when staff would be brought to/from the garage by staff buses or on normal services and
cars were not part of the equation other than for the select few. How times change. The demolished block did not only
include the games room. It was the 'output' block where drivers and conductors signed on/off and paid in their takings.
There were staff locker rooms and the Operational administration was conducted here. The block to the left of the
building originally housed all the engineering staff. Presumably all the garage administration is now housed in this
block which just shows how the number of staff employed to run such a depot has reduced as a result of rationalisation
over the years. I believe the garage houses more vehicles now than it has ever done, so the rationalisation has nothing
to do with a reduction in responsibilities!
I have very fond memories of walking into the output area to collect the latest bus maps when they were published and/or to purchase my Red Rover tickets for bus spotting trips around London! Great days.
From: "Kate Sanford" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I'm almost in tears here with the intensity of recollections.
My father, Len Reynolds, worked on trolleybuses at Park Royal Coachworks during 1937/8 to about 1938/9, as an electrician. He transferred to London Transport as a specialist electrician, and although he eventually progressed through the ranks, he always had a soft spot for the trolleys. While he was at PRC he slipped off the roof of one, and hit the rear step. His brother Harold, who also worked there as a bodywork-builder, was called urgently because it was feared that my father had been killed, but he was merely knocked out - albeit with his jaw broken in 3 places.
Dad was depot foreman for a few years, about 1948 - 1952/3 I think, and his duties took him to New Cross, and other places, including Bexleyheath. My Uncle also stayed with London transport for several years, but didn't develop his career with them, as did Dad. dad eventually became a licensing inspection foreman, specializing in mechanical and electrical [most were only a single specialists], working out from Aldenham & Chiswick. He was a Junior Engineer when her retired in the mid-1970s.
Besides this, I am an old Bexleyheathian. I was born on the Welling/Abbey Wood border in 1937, I lived most of my life till 1963 between Bexleyheath & Welling, with some spells during WWII in other places. I begun work in Woolwich Arsenal as a laboratory technician, then at another time worked in Erith at Atlas Preservative [Dennis Thatcher's company], opposite Fraser & Chalmer's. Travelling for school, work and play always entailed a bike [I was 'keen'] or multiple buses, especially trolleys on the 698 & 696 routes. I remember the trams in Woolwich & Lewisham, as well as other places around south London. I also experienced the trolleys in Derby, where we lived for a while during WWII. I loved the trolleybuses, and couldn't understand why they became redundant.
My memories have been tinglingly refreshed by looking at this site and reading some of the comments. The photos are so exciting to me and I'm about to show them to my husband [he lived in the West Country until he was 10, and knows a lot about all kinds of heavy transport, especially in Australia].
I have also accessed Graham Hill's PRV site, so I'm having a ball, at the moment! Thank you for such an interesting and evocative site. If possible, could it be posted that if any readers knew or remember my father, Len Reynolds, or my uncle, Harold Reynolds, I would like to hear from them? Thank you.
From: "Jo Minton" <email@example.com>
I am now in my 70's but remember both trams and trolley buses having ridden on both. The trams were real bone shakers and when the trollies came into their own it was heaven for they made no noise at all. My father took a cine camera picture of one of the first trolley buses out of Bexley Heath garage it was driven by a Mr Mew.
From: "David Bazley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Having been born in Basilon Road Bexleyheath in 1931, I enjoyed looking at your pictures. Could have done with a few more dates against the photos.
Comment by David Bradley
It would certainly be nice to add this information but all pictures on this page have come from a number of sources so only an educated guess can be made of the dates that the pictures were taken. Visitors to this site are most welcomed to provide any additional caption information - my email address is given below.
From: "Alan Roberton"<email@example.com>
I just had to write to you to thank you for stirring such fond memories. I lived in upper Belvedere
for the first 19 years of my life and well remember the trolleybuses running from Erith to Bexleyheath and from
Bexleyheath to Woolwich. Putting my young ear to the pole that held the trolley wires so as to hear when the
next trolleybus was coming. Although the service finished in 1959 [I believe] and I was only 10 then, I can
still remember these grand old ladies that made a strange noise - most unlike the diesel buses with their smoke
and noisy engines and preselect gears.
The photos on your site took me back to those far off innocent days when my mother would let me, at 9 and 10, go out all day with a bottle of drink [usually orange squash] and a couple of sandwiches, and no-one would worry where I was or when I would get home. Bliss!
Once again many thanks - I shall keep looking.
From: "Pete Christopher" <MilitaryProps@aol.com>
Just having a wander down memory lane when I stumbled upon your photos. I used to work in 'Hides' of Bexleyheath - a veritable 'Grace Brothers'. I remember the trolleybuses, they used to run past my house, a post war 'prefab' and as kids we would press our ears to the poles to hear them approaching. Truly happy days. Thank you.
From: "Sally Pratt" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thank you for stirring some memories for me. I lived in Pelham Road from 1967 to 1976, and used to catch buses regularly from outside the bus garage to Dartford, Erith, Lewisham, Eltham, Sidcup, Forest Hill, Crystal Palace and other places. I remember particularly the numbers 89, 96, 122 and 126, which was I think a single decker bus which went to Bromley. My memories of trolley buses are vague as I was only 7 when they were withdrawn, although I do remember them turning at the Clock Tower. However I remember the old Routemasters very well, particularly when they broke down trying to struggle up Shooter's Hill!
From: "Peter Weal" <email@example.com>
My name is Peter Weal, and in the early days of WWII, I lived in the 'strip mall' houses next
to the Depot.
There was no store occupants at that time, just where the shop window would be it was all boarded over.
I believe, that we were in the third or fourth apartment from the end furthest from the depot.
We where living there at the time of the air raid in 1940, and I, along with one or two school chums, where crossing Erith Road when the bomber came in at roof top level, strafing the road. We very smartly, ran across the sidewalk, and into the shelter of our deep doorway. The Heinkel, straddled the depot with two or three bombs, with one demolishing the two 'stand-by' diesels on the front stand of the depot. I seem to remember, that of the two bus crews, all survived but with severe injuries.
One bomb, missed the building, and seriously 'injured' a field of potatoes. There where spuds everywhere!
I have looked at the site via satellite images, but they are indistinct and somewhat distorted. The excellent photos on your web site stop short of the block of flats, at what used to be the 'delivery alley' behind them, and at the first one, which at that time, was a Cafe! It was usually occupied by off duty Drivers and Clippies.
I was visiting the UK about 15 or so years ago, and actually passed right by the place on a diesel bus from Sidcup to Plumstead! I should have taken the opportunity to get off, and taken a look around. (I am a now a Canadian citizen, and have lived in Nova Scotia for 53 years). I have wondered, if there are any further pictures, which might show the buildings extending along from the right hand end of the depot? If so, I would appreciate the opportunity of seeing them either on your site, or as an attachment to a return E-Mail.
In any event, thanxs for the opportunity to view your interesting site and read the comments. My very best wishes to all, and who knows, someone might even remember me?
From: "Bert" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The café was called Molly's, my sister and other 'teenagers' haunted the place just after the war.
I lived in Parkside Ave and the Heinkel you speak of strafed the people walking in Northall road, this included my
older brother and me!
Have memories of sitting on top deck of 698 waiting for conductor change over and watching off duty men playing snooker in the second floor room at the end of the depot. Gone now.
From: "Peter Weal" <email@example.com>
Hugh Taylor sent a picture in response to this request, which will be displayed on this page in due course.
This is almost the picture I am looking for. I lived at the 'other end' of these flats, I think, the second or
third one in from the back alley driveway. I know it is a lot to ask, but it would be just great if a shot could be taken showing the
present day entire block of shops/flats.
I was evacuated from here and ended up in Matlock, Derbyshire. In early '45, I moved to Frome, Somerset, and in '48 into the RAF for my National Service. In 1955, I moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen. Although I have spent a number of vacations 'back home', and actually passed by the old homestead in a bus, on route to Plumstead. I have not actually set foot there since leaving in 1941. There are no surviving members of my family left.
If it is not possible to obtain further pictures, not to worry! I am just grateful to receive what has already been sent. Thanxs.
From: "Stanley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My Mother worked for many years during the war and after on the trolleybuses from Bexleyheath depot. She was known as Marie.
I used to spend many evenings in Molly's café. I lived in Berkeley Avenue. I would like to hear from anyone who is interested in chatting about those days. Known as Ken Mariutto in those days.
From: "Fred Pallett" <email@example.com>
I have only just located your website which, as a 79 year old and living in the Bexley area all my life, I have found very interesting.
I remember the trolleys very well and rode on 696 and 698 trolleys many times. Whilst doing my National Service in the Army during 1952-54, I was stationed
in Reading for a short period and recall the brown and cream livery of the trolleys there. I also remember Bexleyheath Depot [or Garage as it is now called]
being bombed in World War II and, as a Charlton Athletic supporter, I recall the queue of trolleys that formed around the Woolwich terminal of the 696/698
to take supporters home after the match.
I thought you might like to see the picture to the right that I took at Bexleyheath town centre on 3 March 1959, which was the last day of operation of the 696 and 698 services.