As these two services share a lot of the route and have a similar history, it is easier to consider them together. In fact, after a difficult start, despite the length in both distance and time of operation they had probably the most stable existence of all Bradford's trolleybus routes.
An original proposal to replace the trams to Saltaire via Thackley and Idle had been made in 1925 but bad experience with some of the early trolleybuses had led to a lot of opposition and the proposal was defeated, instead the tram track to Five Lane Ends was renewed. Several years later the obvious success of the new trolleybuses, which contrasted with the poor performance of the trams on the worn out track on the rest of the route, effectively silenced the opposition.
The service to Saltaire was nearly seven miles long and the large task on conversion was completed for an official opening on 29th March 1930, with public service starting the next day. The service terminated initially in a tight turning circle just short of Bingley Road. The layout there was later re-modelled, probably at the time of the opening of the Crossflatts service when a roundabout was built. The roundabout then became the normal terminus and the wiring also connected into Saltaire depot, which was used for layovers. An emergency reverser was provided in Dove Street, just short of the roundabout.
An additional and more unusual short working facility was provided at Thackley Corner, where a complete circle was provided allowing trolleybuses to terminate from either direction.
The Idle tramway was replaced by a new trolleybus route which left the Saltaire service at Five Lane Ends and extended beyond the original tram terminus to Greengates, also replacing a motorbus service that had been introduced to counter private competition. The Greengates service was officially opened on 20th March 1931 but in this case the public had to wait two days before they were able to use it.
The service always terminated off Forster Square at the bottom of Bolton Road, the only change being to the route of the turning loop which used Commercial Street up to 15th May 1966, after which they entered Forster Square itself briefly using Canal Road. A loop was provided at Peel Park, but apart from that, which was mainly used for specials and an odd working to Bradford Moor, the only additional turning point apart from those already mentioned was at Five Lane Ends.
Service numbers were allocated as follows (with the pre-1935 numbers in brackets):
Saltaire - 40 (50)
Thackley - 41 (51)
Greengates - 42 (52)
Five Lane Ends - 43 (53)
The Peel Park circle closed in March 1967 - it was the last section of trolleybus wiring in the country at the old 1'-6' separation. Both services were replaced with motorbuses as part of the 1971 replacement programme, with the last trolleybuses running on June 30th 1971. In one way the Saltaire route was the last to survive as the wiring in the Shipley area survived well after the rest of the Bradford system wiring had been removed, the last being removed on August 14th 1972.
These services were worked initially from the former tram depot at Bolton. This small shed wasn't suitable for eight foot wide vehicles which became more restrictive as the fleet was modernised. It closed on 2nd November 1958 after which vehicles were provided by Thornbury depot.
© David Beilby