Over the years I have accumulated a selection of photographs of the Cleethorpes AEC trolleybuses. They record many aspects of their interesting history and show that as time went by no two vehicles remained identical, whether it be through such details as non-standard towing hatches or even different coloured wing mirrors. Below, the name of the photographer is given where known. I would be pleased to hear of the existence of any further photographs.
Number 50 was posed for official photographs when new, carrying the dark blue and cream livery complete with lining-out and small fleet numbers. In one front, nearside view some unbodied chassis are in the background, so the location is probably Park Royal. A similar photograph exists, but with a different background. A rear, offside view, probably at the latter location, is interesting because the rear blinds show '14' (a route number that was never used) and 'Grimsby'. (The front blinds show '12' and 'Old Market Place Grimsby' while the side blind shows 'Special') [Dave Hurley/GLC].
In an undated front, offside view, number 50 has received the post-war dark and light blue livery and large fleet numbers, a plain white (?) background for the offside between-decks advertisement, and a recently replaced panel just in front of the front offside wheel [W.J. Haynes]. By June 1950 it had acquired an offside advertisement for "Kemdex" and yet to be painted replacement panels around the rear offside wheel add to the appearance of neglect [S. Letts]. A most interesting photograph by A.B. Cross, dated April 1951, shows number 50, still wearing the post-war dark and light blue livery, withdrawn at Pelham Road depot. Next to it is a sister vehicle in the same livery, possibly 51, plus another behind. This is in the later grey and blue livery but retains opening front upper deck windows so it must be 57 (q.v.), which at that time was not withdrawn.
I have seen no other photographs of 51, perhaps not surprisingly in view of its early withdrawal.
A rear, nearside view of number 52 appears in the 3 December 1937 edition of The Commercial Motor along with a brief paragraph recording the changeover from trams in Cleethorpes. It appears to be devoid of advertisements apart for one for "Saxa salt" on the lower rear panel. This was the only one of the first four AECs to receive bodywork modifications and the grey and blue livery. This had occurred by August 1950 when it was photographed from the front offside with black beading, wing mirrors and roof rainwater guttering, and an advertisement for "Bull Ring Fisheries, All the best in fish, game, poultry" [D.F. Parker]. The vehicle already carries the steel 12 louvre towing hatch now fitted to number 54 (having been recovered with the vehicle when it was extracted from Hill's scrapyard). An August 1952 view shows no change in the vehicle's appearance [R. Marshall]. A front, nearside view, probably taken soon after repainting, judging by the vehicle's tidy condition, reveals that at this time the nearside advertisement was "Ben Truman, Distributors: W. Conway Ltd, Mill Rd, Cleethorpes" [C. Carter].
Another front, offside photographs of number 52 shows it carrying an advertisement that reads "A few pence a day buys a new GAS cooker". Since the same area of paint is missing above one of the lower deck windows as in the R. Marshall photograph, it suggests that only the advertisement had been replaced. However, in yet another front, offside view number 52 appears to have grey rather than black beading, together with a "Bull Ring Fisheries" advertisement of similar layout to that mentioned above, but possibly with a different colour scheme. A lot happened to 52 before withdrawal in December 1955!
Two similar front, offside views of number 53 depict the vehicle in the dark and light blue livery with a "Kemdex" offside advertisement very similar to that carried by number 50, and a 12 louvre towing hatch similar to number 52ís. In an August 1948 view it appeared to be in good condition [R. Marshall] but in the later (?) view it had sustained some frontal damage and looked generally neglected [R.F. Mack].
54 (FW 8990)
Number 54 was much photographed and features on a commercial postcard of the Bathing Pool terminus carrying the original dark blue livery. The offside advertisement reads "Gordon Lock Chantry Lane". It is also the subject of the most remarkable of all the photographs in this collection, although the date and photographer are unknown. Its bodywork has been modified but number 54 wears the dark and light blue livery complete with black beading and yellow lining-out (This was now 5/16in wide, rather than 1/8 in when the vehicle was new). This is a unique combination of body style and livery, and number 54 will regain this appearance when restored. It appears to be freshly repainted and carries a nearside advertisement for "Borwick's baking powder". It is a reasonable guess that number 54 was the first of the batch to be modified, with those treated subsequently receiving the grey and blue livery at the same time. One minor detail not perpetuated on any other vehicle was it was fitted with small drainage outlets in the two between-decks panels immediately above the cab.
Number 54 was eventually repainted into the grey and blue livery with black beading and blue wing mirrors. It carried this livery, but no advertisements, when photographed standing behind number 57 pre-December 1954. A front, offside view (with an unidentified sister vehicle with no offside advertisement following) shows that its offside advertisement read "The Winning Post is Littlewoods" [Stevens-Stratten collection]. Unlike on its sister, the roof rainwater guttering is also picked out in black. In a front, off-side view from June 1956, number 54 again seems to be freshly repainted, still in the grey and blue livery but with the beading and guttering painted grey and with blue rather than black mudguards. The offside advertisement is for "Bedford & Gifford Ltd., paper bag makers" [J.C. Gillham]. Two other views, one almost frontal [R.F. Mack], are of similar dates, as is one of number 54 following Crossley 64 [C.W. Routh].
Following the merger with Grimsby in 1957, the fleet number was changed to 154, using a plain (Grimsby) style of number, but the Cleethorpes crests remained in situ. The radio interference suppresser coils had been removed by this time (no other vehicles in the batch were so treated). Several offside views exist of number 54 in this condition, showing that the final offside advertisement carried was for "Turners Bread". Judging by the position of the destination blind, three may have been taken at the same point in time [A.B. Cross dated 24 August 1958, and two by R.F. Mack]. Another R.F. Mack photo shows Grimsby utility number 1 (in joint livery) followed by (1)54, easily recognisable by a dent in the front offside panel which it carried until withdrawal. A front, nearside view of it passing the Grimsby depot shows the nearside "Brolac MURAC PEP - W.H. Alvey & Son, Bethlehem St, Grimsby" advertisement [R.F. Mack]. Number 54 was also photographed, probably behind the depot, soon after withdrawal [Photobus].
Several photographs exist of number 54 in Hillís scrapyard together with number 55 and Grimsby Karrier 23. The earliest of these, dated ca. 1960, shows the vehicles in more or less as-withdrawn condition [N.J. Drewry]. In two views taken some years later (one from the front, offside and one from the front, nearside), all had suffered broken windows while the cab framework of number 55 had either collapsed or been dismantled, and the cab stacked with planks of wood. A front, nearside view dated August 1967 shows the three vehicles to be in similar condition but the trolleybooms had been released from the trolleyhooks and were resting at angles of about 45 degrees. Finally, two colour photographs taken on 31 May 1968, one from the rear, nearside and one from the rear, show numbers 54 and 23 only, and a pile of scrap where number 55 used to stand [A. Colley]. The rear lower deck framework and panels of number 54, although intact, were badly damaged (as was the platform area of number 23), suggesting that the photographs were taken at the time number 54 was being prepared for removal from the yard.
Two R.F. Mack photographs, one a front, offside view and the other of the rear offside, exist of number 54 on tow after being rescued by Tom Bowden from Hillís scrapyard. Was it merely coincidence that Bob Mack was passing by with his camera, and did Tom know that he was being photographed? No doubt several photographs of number 54 at Plumtree museum also exist. These include one showing the front and nearside view ca. 1970 [A. Colley] and a rear, offside view.
Many photographs exist of number 55, the oldest being a front, nearside view of it in the dark and light blue livery with a nearside advertisement for "Ben Truman". Its general appearance is very shabby [A.D. Packer]. This photograph, by its very existence, supports the suggestion that number 55 was the last of the batch to be modified. All other views show it carrying the grey and blue livery (with grey beading) and a replacement six flute towing hatch. An advertisement that reads "Millions win on Littlewoods why not you?" is carried in a front, offside view dated July 1953 [R. Marshall]. Two front, nearside views show that the nearside advertisement read "Modern GAS Cookers Burn less Gas" [D.A. Jones and H. Luff]. A front, offside view dated 13 June 1956 shows the vehicle freshly repainted and devoid of advertisements [D. Tate]. Two further photographs were taken the same month, a front, offside view [J. Copland/C. Routh] and one in which only the front is visible [J.S. King]. An undated front, offside view of 55 in the background behind a diesel bus provides no new information.
Number 55 was the only Cleethorpes AEC to receive the post-merger joint livery and two front, offside views [one R.F. Mack] show it carrying an advertisement for "Wonderloaf". A front, nearside view of number 55 after withdrawal in 1959 shows it parked on the dockside at Grimsby. It carries a nearside advertisement for "Jubilee" and has suffered some frontal damage. Behind it is number 54 [C.W. Routh].
Two front, offside photographs exist of number 56 in the grey and blue livery. One shows it carrying an advertisement for "Ben Truman", similar to that on the nearside of 52, while the other, dated 1953, a year before withdrawal, shows it decorated with ribbons and set-pieces for the Queen's coronation.
Number 57 was the only one of the batch to receive the grey and blue livery but not to be modified, giving it a distinctive appearance. Despite it apparently being a 'reserve vehicle' for some years prior to its withdrawal in 1954, it was quite commonly photographed in the grey and blue livery. In two undated front, nearside views [A.D. Packer and S.N.J. White] it carries the same "Ben Truman" advertisement as on numbers 52 and 56. However, the two versions of the advertisement show detailed differences, while in the first view the vehicle sports grey (instead of black) beading and wing mirrors, and the legal lettering in a slightly different position, suggesting that it had been repainted. A rear, offside view of number 57 (probably without black beading) in a commercial postcard shows it carrying an advertisement for "Bromleys mineral water" while in a possibly later front, offside view (also without black beading) the advertisement reads "A few pence a day buys a new GAS cooker" (similar to that on number 52).
Number 58 was another much photographed bus. In three separate front, offside views it carries the grey and blue livery with beading picked out in black and the same "Ben Truman" advert carried by numbers 52 and 57. The first of these photographs was probably taken soon after repainting, while the others [by C. Carter and R.F. Mack] were taken at later dates. A front, nearside view probably from this period shows that the nearside advertised "Bromleys mineral water" similar to number 57. As with several other vehicles in the batch, the beading on number 58 became grey rather than black, probably on repaint, and the vehicle acquired damage to the front panels and a six flute towing hatch similar to that on number 55 (the original presumably having been damaged beyond repair). The offside advertisement was for "Ilford films for faces and places" and that on the nearside was for "Glenton's Ltd makers of Fulljoy bread and cakes". [The latter view was taken by N.J. Drewry]. A photo which proved invaluable when rebuilding number 54 is a rear view of number 58 passing Crossley 63 [R.F. Mack]. In addition to the offside "Ilford films" advertisement, one for "Glenton's Ltd" is carried on the lower back panel.
Following the merger the vehicle was renumbered 158 by the addition of a Cleethorpes-style 1 (unlike 54). A front, offside view dated 1957 of the vehicle dewired outside Grimsby depot shows that no offside advertisement was carried at that time [N.J. Drewry]. A front, nearside view taken in May of that year shows that a (slightly different) "Ilford films" advertisement was now carried on the nearside [J. Copland/C. Routh]. It is not clear from either view whether the damaged front panels had been replaced.
59-62 (FW8995, AFU153-AFU155)
These four vehicles were not widely photographed when with their original owner as they were sold to Nottingham City Transport in 1940. An article in the 2 October 1940 edition of the Nottingham Journal entitled "Nottingham Buys Four Trolley-Buses" was accompanied by a front, nearside photograph of number 62 at Pelham Road carrying the advertisement "If itís Trumanís it is Beer! Distributors: W. Conway Ltd, Mill Rd, Cleethorpes". The original small fleet numbers are carried and the offside headlight is masked. A wartime general view of Grimsby Old Market shows an unidentified AEC, complete with masked headlights, a white strip painted across the bottom of the front panels and white mudguards and dog rails with an identically worded advertisement, but the layout of the wording is slightly different [Grimsby Evening Telegraph]. Several photographs exist of these four vehicles with their new owner.
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