Falmouth Trolleybuses

John Haynes has retrieved this item from his collection of items obtained while he dwelt in Cornwall. The article conveys in a convincing manner the advantages of the “railless” bus culminating in the advantage to golfers in making their way to the newly opened links at Beacon – it should be acted on urgently!

Article published in the “Falmouth Packet” 3 December 1909

We have already called attention to the proposal to run a line of cars on the Railless Electric Traction, or Trackless Trolley, system to serve Falmouth and Penryn and also to the arrangements which were being made to equip a short line In London in order to demonstrate the capabilities of the system.

Until the demonstration line was constructed Corporations and Companies contemplating adopting the system were obliged to send deputations to the Continent to inspect those lines which have been in successful operation in various German and other towns for some time. It was not possible to arrange for a deputation from Falmouth and Penryn to visit one of those places and satisfy themselves of the suitability of the system for their respective towns and, therefore, the promoters of the local scheme decided to postpone further action until the line was in operation in London.

London Demonstration The demonstration line at Hendon was constructed by the Metropolitan Electric Tramways Company and the Railless Electric Traction Company Limited and the running of the cars has proved to be in every way satisfactory to those Companies.

There is every prospect that the system will be largely adopted in this country in towns where the streets are too narrow, or the population is insufficient, to warrant the very much larger capital expenditure required to install a tramway of the normal type; also for country districts, seaside and pleasure resorts and to act as feeders to, and extensions of, existing tramways.

The members of the Corporations of Falmouth and Penryn and many other towns were invited to witness the recent demonstration in London which was largely attended. Among those present were the members of the Municipal Tramways Association, and also the members of the Tramways and Light Railways Association.

In a report of the performance of the cars the “Light Railway and Tramway Journal” stated “the road for the experimental running is of a more or less primitive nature, with gradients, curves, and narrowness of roadway which it would be impossible to find in this or (we should imagine) any other country. Notwithstanding all this the running was singularly free from vibration, whilst the steep and rain-sodden gradient, the sharp curves and the narrow roadway were negotiated with ease and precision”.

We are able to give an illustration of one of the railless electric cars which is now running at Mulhausen in Germany where the system is in successful operation. We may say that there are over 120 miles of railless electric line working on the Continent with excellent results. The line at Hendon contains a great many additions and refinements not to be found on the Continental lines, but considered to be necessary in this country where higher standards of work are called for. All these improvements will be embodied in the proposed Falmouth and Penryn service.


Electric Railless Car 1909

The “Railless Electric” cars may be described as small electric motor busses running, without rails, on the ordinary streets and roads and taking their power from overhead wires in the same manner as an ordinary electric tramcar, The flexible arm shown on top of the car in the illustration is so constructed as to enable the car to travel from side to side of the road and steer in and out of the traffic and follow the windings of the narrow streets and roads. In the case of the line in London the arm permits the car to steer in and out at the traffic on roads up to 54 feet wide

The cars are steered in the same manner as an ordinary motor bus by means of a steering wheel. Powerful brakes enable the driver to stop the car practically within its own length. There is no smoke and no smell and the cars run smoothly and without vibration.

To install this system no widening or alternation of the roads or streets is required. No poles will be necessary in the town of Falmouth; the wires can be supported by means of a simple and ornamental device, from buildings on each side of the street. The car wheels are fitted with rubber tyres and the wear upon the road surfaces will be much less than that of steel tyres and the steel shod hoofs of horses, and the cars will make less noise than the ordinary traffic.

Another View of ther Mulhausen TrolleybusThe cars are light and those to be provided for Falmouth and Penryn will be constructed in length, breadth and weight specially to suit the narrow streets and awkward corners and gradients. These cars will occupy less room and interfere less with the traffic in the streets, and do less damage to the road surfaces and to the pipes beneath, than the heavy traction engines and motor wagons with their trailers which are at present permitted to pass through the streets of Falmouth.

The cost of construction and equipment of such a line as that proposed for Falmouth is small: It will practically consist of little more than the overhead wires and their supports and the cars necessary to deal with the traffic. In the case of the ordinary tramway the cost of the rails and permanent way is responsible for no less than two-thirds to three-quarters of the capital expenditure.

No electric power generating station need be provided to work the railless line in Falmouth, Happily Falmouth possesses a power station with machinery installed capable of supplying all the necessary power to work the railless line as well as to light the town.

The Electric Lighting Company is anxious to find an outlet for its surplus current and we believe that negotiations for the supply of power are already in progress between them and the promoters of the proposed railless line. The cost of operating the railless system is not large: In the case of the lines in operation on the Continent the cost varies from 3.38d to 5.38d per car mile. The ordinary motor omnibus costs from 9d. to one shilling per car mile and the depreciation is very much heavier than that of the railless cars.

We understand that it is proposed to construct the main lino from Fa1mouth Railway Station, thence along Bar-terrace, Arwenack-street, Church-street, Market-street, Green Bank and along the main road to Penryn Town Hall or Railway Station.

A branch line to serve the beach and sea front will run from Arwenack up Avenue-road, across Melville-road and down Gyllyngvase-road to the beach and thence along the Cliff-road past Gyllyngdune Gardens to the Railway Station.If there is insufficient traffic to support this line during the winter, except on certain days, the main line only will be operated. The cost of the overhead wire being so small the amount of capital lying idle will be but little when the lines specially constructed for the summer traffic are not being used.

If these lines should prove to be successful a line will be constructed from Market Strand thence up Killigrew-street to the Recreation Ground and along Melvllle-road to a junction with the line leading to the beach. Also a line round the Castle Drive could easily be constructed if and when there appeared to be sufficient traffic to warrant it.

Riding in tramcars and motor busses has, nowadays, become quite a. habit and visitors to Falmouth from towns which possess those up-to-date facilities feel acutely the lack or them, and it is certain that, for this reason alone, many at them do not revisit the town. A cheap and regular means or reaching the Beach and Cliff road and the Gyllyngdune Gardens from Penryn, the Market Strand Pier and also the Green Bank end of the town would be, for obvious reasons, of much advantage and it is becoming more and more evident that it is necessary to the more rapid development at Falmouth as a pleasure and health resort.

Visitors for the day who invariably go to the sea front will be encouraged to come more often and in greater numbers, and after spending the day on the beach and sea front will take the car into the town to inspect the shops and make purchases before leaving. The long walk from the beach to the town and thence back to the Railway Station is not only fatiguing but occupies much time. The line will be convenient to golfers using the new links at the Beacon.

The offices of the Railless Electric Traction Company, Ltd., for the West of England are at 1, Church-street, Falmouth. The Company will be glad to show the cars in operation to any local resident, or other interested, who may be visiting London.

NB – The two smaller photos found on the web and added

Also see our other pages on Electric Transport in the South West