Where trolley buses went to end of the line

Trolley buses are being considered as the transport system of the future in Leeds, but what's exercising some minds is the trolley bus of yesteryear.

Transport guru Chris Youhill has a poser about how the trolley buses turned around in the upmarket village of Burley-in-Wharfedale.

But first Chris has some background information: "The emphasis seems to be on the Aire Street to New Farnley route and many people, including present residents of Wharfedale, are completely unaware of the two 'outpost' routes from White Cross, Guiseley, to Burley-in-Wharfedale and from White Cross to Otley.

"The buses were based at the Guiseley tram depot of Leeds City Tramways and the two routes were to effectively extend the Guiseley trams which terminated at White Cross.

"And the original proposals were for the Burley branch to be even longer, to Ilkley in fact, but that extension never materialised.

"The first trolley bus from Guiseley to Otley ran in September 1915 followed in October 1915 by the Burley service. All were withdrawn in July 1928 and were replaced by Leeds City Transport buses running through from the city.

"The period of trolley bus operation to Burley and Otley was peppered with numerous wranglings between Leeds Corporation and the various councils on a number of issues such as fares, level of service, shelters and so forth.

The trolley buses shared the Guiseley depot with the trams and occupied two bays at the Bradford Road side of the building.


"This wonderful building is still there at White Cross of course, and on the eastern gable the evocative stone carving LEEDS CITY TRAMWAYS has thankfully been preserved.

"I have just delved into my books and find that the Burley service simply ran to Main Street (presumably bottom of Station Road) where, because of a lack of a proper turning circle, 'the trolleys had to be turned by hand.' I don't quite understand this, as the vehicles would have to be turned round somehow, and this remains a mystery to this day. If only some very elderly resident of Burley could remember the arrangement."

No sooner had I received Chris's e-mail then former Leeds transport boss Arnold Stone phoned. He can't answer Chris's question about the turn at Burley but Arnold told me there was a half hour trolley bus service from White Cross to Otley, and a half hourly service between White Cross and Burley-in-Wharfedale.

"The trams gave people in Leeds cheap and regular transport in to Wharfedale," said Arnold, "But the trolley bus routes from Guiseley to Otley and to Burley weren't a success and were withdrawn with the rest of the system."