- After the First World War, Ipswich’s tramcar tracks were worn out and the Ipswich Corporation (as it was then known) experimented with trolleybuses. Built in 1923 trolley bus ICT No 2 was a trackless tram, running on solid rubber wheels, drawing power from overhead cables while the driver remained free to steer (within reason) along the road.
- Providing public transport by trolley bus suited Ipswich Corporation because it owned the power station and all the overhead cables, so could still sell itself the electricity to power its own vehicles.
- Three buses (with just 30 seats) formed part of a pilot programme to test out the idea.Trolley Bus ICT No 2 was one of these running between Ipswich Station and Cornhill along Princes Street.
Trolley buses were introduced across the whole of Ipswich in 1926 and they ran in the town until 1963. At its peak in 1947, the trolleybus network covered 25 miles and had 80 operational vehicles. However, the three pilot vehicles were removed from service – Trolley Bus ICT No.2 was withdrawn in 1934.
- The motors and electrical equipment was removed and what remained was sold for scrap.
- In 1935 Leonard Richardson and family needed somewhere to live because their home at Valley Farm Flatford had been sold by Leonard to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
- Leonard Richardson bought the bus and moved it to Flatford converting it into a dwelling in which he and his daughters lived.
Trolley Bus - Life in Flatford
- Leonard converted the trolley bus into a dwelling and lived in it with his daughter, Sylvia.
- At one juncture Leonard insulated the roof with straw bales.
- Sylvia Richardson continued to live in the trolley bus until the mid 1970s
The driver’s cab was turned into a kitchen, the seats were removed and the decks were the main living area. The rear end (which had been a curtained off observation/smoking platform) was glassed in to become a bathroom
By the 1970s the bus had deteriorated and the sisters were getting older and finding it more difficult to manage.
They offered the vehicle to Ipswich Transport Museum in return for the Museum helping them draw up plans for a bungalow for them to live in.
Restoration by Ipswich Transport Museum
In 1977 the trolley bus was acquired by Ipswich Transport Museum who fund raised in order to start restoring it.
Enough funds were raised in the 1970s to restore the exterior which was undertaken by Ben Cooper Engineering of Claydon in 1981 with a replica base added in 1994.
In 2011 Ipswich Transport Museum volunteers started to restore the interior including replacing missing bodywork, fittings and the interior lights.
Trolley Bus ICT No 2 is believed to be the oldest trolley bus on display in the world
For more information please click on Ipswich Transport Museum Trolley Bus No 2