The first and almost the last trolleybus depot in the country, let alone Bradford, was Thornbury. A small shed was opened there to house the original Railless vehicles and this was used right to the end to store (usually withdrawn) trolleybuses. As the fleet expanded it moved into the tram depot proper and eventually nearly the whole depot was wired for trolleybus operation. Thornbury ceased to be an operational depot after the withdrawal of the Clayton service on 31st July 1971, although the adjacent workshops were responsible for maintenance of the fleet throughout. Thornbury was to have one last fling on the final trolleybus weekend. As the replacement motorbuses needed the space in Duckworth Lane depot, the trolleybuses provided for the special tours and also 844, the last trolleybus of all, were based at the workshops, which became a running shed for the weekend. The workshops once had a most unusual feature, which was a turntable on a traverser, used for shunting trolleybuses (and no doubt motorbuses) within the workshops.
Bankfoot was never a large depot and only supplied trolleybuses for the Oakenshaw service which ran from June 25th 1914 until 1st August 1940. It otherwise remained exclusively a tram depot until 1949, when the first motorbuses appeared. After the last trams ran into the depot on 6th May 1950, it became a motorbus depot until closure in 1977, replaced by the new Central garage.
Bolton depot had opened in 1898 as a tram depot. Originally a tin shed it was rebuilt in 1922. It shifted to trolleybus operation as the services to Saltaire, Greengates and Eccleshill were opened from 1930 to 1934. The premises were cramped and could not accommodate more modern eight foot wide trolleybuses. This combined with the need to reverse vehicle into Bolton Road to leave the depot led to a decision to close it and the last trolleybus, 711, left on 2nd November 1958. The building was used as a haulage depot for some time but was demolished in 1969.
Duckworth Lane opened with a wooden building in 1900. This building was replaced on the same site with a larger stone building in 1902 which remained purely a tram depot until the conversion of the Duckworth Lane tram service in 1934, after which it became 100% trolleybus. It was the last in the country to retain this status when the first motorbuses arrived on 8th November 1971. The last normal service trolleybuses ran into the depot on the night of 24th March 1972 and then the depot became motorbus only until closure in 1977, following the opening of the new Central bus garage at the Interchange.
Saltaire depot was built on the site of the small depot for Shipley's own horse tram service, which was none too successful. Following agreement that Bradford would take over Shipley's electric tramways, which had been operated by the Mid-Yorkshire Tramway Company, the new depot was built in 1904 to house the Bradford cars needed for the service to Nab Wood (later to Crossflatts) as well as serving as a replacement for the company depot in Exhibition Road. It was converted to a trolleybus depot in 1939 at the same time as the Crossflatts service was converted and its sole responsibility was to provide vehicles for that busy group of services. It ceased to be a trolleybus depot when the Crossflatts route was converted to motorbus in 1963. However, trolleybus wiring remained as a loop within depot, permitting trolleybuses on the long Saltaire via Thackley service to lay over there until that route was itself converted after 30th June 1971. As with Duckworth Lane and Bankfoot, this depot survived until 1977 when the new Central garage opened.
© David Beilby