This was one of the more interesting routes in the system. Clayton U. D. C., unlike many of the urban district councils around Bradford, were quite enthusiastic about the trolleybus and welcomed proposals for a service linking the village with Bradford. A provisional order for the service was obtained in 1923 but the then General Manager, R. H. Wilkinson, had to overcome a lot of opposition from a wide range of interests. Although this was not usually specific to the Clayton route, it did absorb a lot of management time and slow down the process.
However, the route did open on 4th September 1926, running from Thornton Road and sharing route with the number 4 tram as far as Lidget Green where there was a small four-tram depot on Necropolis Road until 1930. The route turned off Clayton Road at Pasture Lane and had to pass through a low bridge beneath the former Great Northern Railway line from Bradford to Halifax and Keighley via Queensbury. This low bridge prevented the use of double-deckers but as there were only two in the fleet at the time of opening that was not a big problem.
Starting on 14th March 1928 the service was linked across the City with that to Oakenshaw. However, this served no particular traffic demand and was discontinued after a few years.
The trams to Lidget Green were replaced from 12th December 1934 with trolleybuses which at first showed the same number as the trams (4) but later the number 39 was used. The Clayton service had the number 47 from 1930 to 1935 after which it took the number 37. Later short workings to Pasture Lane were numbered 38 and the number 36 was allocated to workings to Hollingwood Lane but the turning facility was never built there. It did appear on the blinds as can be seen from the official view of 634 elsewhere in this gallery.
To deal with the low bridge, which involved sinking the road lower to create headroom, the service was suspended from 15th August 1937. Service resumed on 24th November the same year and the service was now operated by double-deckers. The temporary turning circle at Pasture Lane, which dated from the time of the bridge work, was rebuilt and came into regular use from 25th February 1950.
An extension to the service was opened on 15th July 1956 when trolleybuses started running up The Avenue making the service almost four miles long.
The first reduction of the service came with the removal of the Lidget Green turning circle in January 1965, but it hadn't been used for a year by then. The extension up The Avenue closed earlier than the rest of the service, with the last trolleybuses running there on 30th May 1970. Final abandonment came on 31st July 1971, a day when the trolleybus system also lost the Saltaire and Greengates services. Both Clayton (37) and Pasture Lane (38) workings ran on the last day.
The service was always worked by Thornbury depot. Initially this required the use of the tramway overhead with a return skate for the section up Leeds Road. The installation of a negative return wire was authorised in February 1927 and, much later, this wiring went on to become the Thornbury route in 1952.
© David Beilby