The Thornton service was officially opened on November 20th 1934 with public service starting the following day. Served by new AEC/English Electric trolleybuses it was the beginning of the modern Bradford system. It replaced a tram service which had been a mixture of single track sections and reserved track on the new Prince's Way opened in 1922. Unlike the tram service which started on Sunbridge Road, the trolleybus service started at Victoria Square and used Thornton Road throughout. It was worked originally from Thornbury depot but with the conversion of Duckworth Lane depot to trolleybuses in 1935 operation was transferred there. It had been planned to build a link from Duckworth Lane depot to the Allerton route along Pearson Lane which would have provided access to Thornton, but residents objected to this.
Starting in a typical industrial and urban environment this service also ran through quite open countryside and the terminus in Thornton was in a relatively quiet village. The section along Prince's Way was very wide and the long gradual descent privided a good opportunity for fast running.
Initially loops were provided at Four Lane Ends and Bell Dean Road. The latter loop was modified in 1957 to allow access from both directions, from the Thornton direction being mainly used for driver training. In 1940 a loop was added at Spring Head Road, a wartime measure to reduce mileage. However, unlike the Bell Dean Road loop which was removed in 1965, the one at Spring Head Road survived until the end.
The Four Lane Ends junction was modified in 1958 to give a one way system using West Park Road. Latterly the connections there were used for the Allerton service and for trolleybuses off the Thornton service to reach Duckworth Lane depot via Squire Lane using wiring installed in about 1947. The very last short workings of all turned back at Four Lane Ends as the last day tour trolleybuses used the loop there to return from the end point of the tour on Thornton Road to Thornbury depot for the last time.
Service numbers used were 5 to Bell Dean Road, 6 to Spring Head Road and 7 to Thornton.
The service to Thornbury was a much later addition to the system, not opening until 2nd March 1952 although the route used wiring sanctioned in February 1927 to allow Clayton trolleybuses to return to Thornbury depot. It replaced a bus service which had itself replaced trams on 4th March 1950. This service, numbered 89 and worked by Thornbury depot, terminated in Hall Ings and used the same roundabout at the Thornbury terminus as the Bradford Moor trolleybuses.
The City terminus of the Thornton service moved from Victoria Square to in front of the Gaumont at the beginning of Thornton Road in 1942, although at that time trolleybuses continued turning round using Victoria Square. Changes to the City Centre in April 1952 saw trolleybuses turn round instead in Town Hall Square, still using the boarding point at the Gaumont.
From 14th March 1965 the Thornton and Thornbury services were linked using the number 6 for journeys to Spring Head Road and 7 for those to Thornton. The through service was worked by Duckworth Lane depot, space for the additional vehicles resulting from a reduction in the Allerton service. During the mid-sixties the changes to wiring around the Town Hall were too frequent to describe in detail. The final through service ended up using Market Street and Bank Street heading towards Thornbury and Hall Ings, Bridge Street and Market Street towards Thornton.
Regular workings on the 6 ceased in early 1971 as bus services generally were being reduced. However, the turning circle at Spring Head Road remained in place and saw frequent visits from trolleybuses on tour! The last trolleybus workings of all were on the 7 service on 24th March 1972. Firstly at Thornbury as the service only ran from Thornton to City in the evening and then the last of all was 843 which worked to Thornton and then returned to Duckworth Lane depot via Squire Lane, but the final workings are covered in another gallery.
© David Beilby