The service to Tong Cemetery had a relatively quiet life. Previously there had been tram routes 16 to Drighlington and 17 to Birkenshaw - at the latter the tracks met those of the Yorkshire Woollen District Tramways giving connections with routes on to Dewsbury and Batley. They were not connected due to the different gauges.
The tracks to Drighlington were worn out and that service was replaced by a motor bus on 9th August 1933, but the more frequent journeys to Dudley Hill and Tong Cemetery (19 and 18 respectively) were still tram worked.
When Bradford obtained the Provisional Order on 1st August 1930 which gave them powers to replace trams with trolleybuses throughout the system, at the behest of West Riding County Council several sections were not included, one of these being the section from Tong Cemetery to Birkenshaw. Therefore when the trolleybus service was introduced it only ran as far as Tong Cemetery, the service to Birkenshaw having been converted to motorbus operation on 31st October 1935 and going on to form the joint bus route 4 from Bradford to Dewsbury. The route opened for trolleybuses on 6th July 1938 and the tram numbers were retained - 18 for Tong Cemetery and 19 for the Dudley Hill short workings.
On 31st December 1956 a new service was started as a result of the Suez crisis, with trolleybuses providing a service to Bierley Church, supplementing motorbuses to save oil. This used the Wakefield Road wires as far as Dudley Hill and then followed the Bolton to Bankfoot service to a loop at Bierley that already existed, but was modernised for the purpose. This service was numbered 16.
Bradford's last new trolleybus route was to the Holme Wood estate. This left Wakefield Road shortly after Dudley Hill and opened on 6th March 1960. Numbered 17 the service was provided by effectively extending many of the Dudley Hill short workings. The roads in the area prevented a loop being installed and trolleybuses here had to use a reverser, the only one in Bradford in such regular use by this time.
The Bierley service ceased running on May 31st 1963. City Centre redevelopment work led to the only major change to these services when the City loading point was moved from Union Street to the new part of Hall Ings, just a short distance further west, on 17th March 1964.
The service was already lined up for abandonment due to impending complete reconstruction of Wakefield Road, when the Dudley Hill substation failed permanently on 28th February 1967. This caused the number of trolleybuses used to be reduced at peak times, supplemented by motor buses. The last trolleybuses ran on 1st April 1967, although the bottom end of Wakefield Road remained energised until 5th December 1967 to allow training trolleybuses to reach the training yard at Bowling depot. There was never a direct connection into Bowling depot, the booms had to be moved to parallel trolley wires.
An interesting feature of the Tong Cemetery service is that it is believed that the first trolleybus was also the last. AEC 655 was understood to have inaugurated operations and thus, rebuilt and rebodied, it was chosen to work the last journey as well 29 years later. The closure of this route saw the last of these AECs withdrawn.
© David Beilby