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Happy Harold’s day out annual trolleybus rally at the Oval

Some of the many buses on display

Some of the many buses on display

Enthusiasts braved threatening rainclouds on Sunday morning, (18th May), to attend the seventeenth annual Trolleybus Rally at the Oval. They were rewarded by a fine sunny afternoon to stroll round the historic trolley and other buses on display, plus a line-up of classic cars from the Bexhill 100 Motoring Club. The event, organised by Hastings Trolleybus Restoration Group (HTRG), was a special one this year, as it is the 50th anniversary of the last trolleybus in Hastings.

Trolleybuses, (electric vehicles drawing their current from overhead wires), took over from trams in Hastings in 1928/9. Star of the show was "Happy Harold", the oldest and rarest Hastings trolleybus to have survived. It is owned by Hastings Borough Council and is maintained and operated by the Hastings Trolleybus Restoration Group.
"There were only eight of this style (open-topped) ever built in this country, and all were for Hastings." said Ion Castro  of the HTRG. "Bournemouth chopped the roofs off some of theirs, but ours were purpose built. Happy Harold was the first and last trolleybus in Hastings and was in the final procession fifty years ago. It was always a "special" for tourists. He said, "The public love it when we take Happy Harold out."
How does Happy Harold manage when there are no longer any overhead wires? Simple: its electric motor was replaced by a diesel motor in 1959, and it has been running on that ever since.  
"We have also restored No. 34" said Ion. "East Anglia Transport Museum have it now. The last general service trolleybus was the Sunbeam."
Are trolleybuses just a thing of the past?  Ion is keen to promote bringing trolleybuses back into general use. "Trolleys are the ultimate green transport system," he says. "They are totally non-polluting – no noise, no fumes and they’re not using any energy when standing at a bus-stop. A diesel bus is sitting at a bus-stop polluting away. Trolleybuses use regenerative braking. When they’re going downhill they are putting current back into the wire, which is then used to bring them back up the hill." He continued, "We’ve made approaches to various organisations to try to bring back trolleybuses, but effectively it’s too cheap for them to be interested."
Does he have any hope that  we will ever see trolleybuses back on our streets? He said, "I think Leeds are thinking of re-introducing them. Also the Lord Mayor of Bradford is very much in favour of bringing them back."

Yellow Ford

Yellow Ford


Beautifully preserved Austin car

Beautifully preserved Austin car


Esso petrol popular at 4/11d a gallon  about 25p!

Esso petrol popular at 4/11d a gallon about 25p!


Trolleybus Happy Harold (1928), with passengers. Ion Castro is third from top

Trolleybus Happy Harold (1928), with passengers. Ion Castro is third from top


Route 134 Bristol bus in Maidstone & District livery

Route 134 Bristol bus in Maidstone & District livery


AEC 152 bus signed Hastings, Frant, Mayfield & Heathfield

AEC 152 bus signed Hastings, Frant, Mayfield & Heathfield

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