TODAY we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the running of Darlington’s last trolleybus.

It was July 31, 1957, that the last of the trolleys ran from Neasham Road, through the town centre and up to Cockerton and Faverdale.

“There was no ceremony,” says Stephen Lockwood in his 2004 book Darlington Trolleybuses.

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“The only public indication of their passing coming from valedictory articles in the local press. One day the trolleys were there and the next day they had gone – a disappointing end to Darlington’s electric street transport era.”

That era had begun on June 1, 1904, when the first electric tram had run, powered by Darlington council’s new electricity station on Haughton Road – the tram depot was beside it and now Duncan Bannatyne’s gym and business headquarters are on the site.

Darlington expanded rapidly in the 1920s, and the trams’ rails began to wear out, so the council decided to switch to a more flexible form of municipal transport – trolleybuses, that drew their power from overhead wires but didn’t require tracks in the road to run on.

The first of the trolleys ran on January 17, 1926, from the Market Place up to Haughton-le-Skerne, and the last of the trams ran on April 10, 1928, as trolleys were introduced the following day on the route from Cockerton to Eastbourne.

As the town expanded, so did the trolleybus network. For instance, in 1942 the Eastbourne line was extended to Lingfield Lane to serve a war workers’ temporary housing. Then, in March 1949, when Lingfield Lane had been renamed McMullen Road, it was extended even further to serve the Patons & Baldwins wonder wool factory – the largest wool factory in the British Empire – which employed more 3,000 women at Lingfield Point.

But, even as the line was extended, the end of the trolleybus was nigh. In April 1950, the council introduced the first motorbuses which were far more flexible than the trolleys as they could drive wherever they wanted. Throughout the 1950s, the petrol-engined buses replaced the electric trolleys until, 60 years ago today, the trolleybus era quietly came to an end.