I’ve written about a lot of oddball turntables over the years, and here is another unusual example – a trolleybus turntable in the Germany city of Solingen.
Located at the terminus of trolleybus line 683 at Unterburg in the Burg an der Wupper district of Solingen, the turntable takes 45 seconds to turn a trolleybus.
The trolley poles are manually lowered before starting the rotation, then raised to the trolley wires afterwards.
The operation is completed without passengers on board, with the turntable remotely operated by the driver from the neighbouring control panel.
Wikipedia has the full story behind how the turntable came to be.
Until 1959, the independent municipality of Burg an der Wupper was connected to the neighbouring cities of Solingen and Remscheid by tram lines 3 and 4. A separate bridge over the Wupper connected the two tram lines. This was destroyed in the Second World War and not rebuilt. Instead, a stub-end terminal was placed on the Solingen side. The tram was shut down in 1959 and replaced by a trolleybus line.
The narrow valley of the Wupper did not leave enough space for a turning loop, with the tram terminus located on a confined site between the river and a steep slope. Therefore a flat disc-type turntable with with a diameter of 7.5 metres (25 ft) was installed for the new trolleybus line, the mechanism being manually operated by the driver using a hand crank.
In 1968 new 12 metres (39 ft)-long three-axle trolleybuses were acquired for use in Solingen, but these did not fit on the turntable. As a result older vehicles continued to be used on the route until December 1974, when the turntable was extended in length. In 1985, the turntable was completely renovated, and extended to the current 12 metres (39 ft) in diameter.
Why it is no longer used.
Because of the limited size of the turntable, line 683 was the only trolley line in the Solingen network on which articulated trolleybuses could not be used. Enlargement of the turntable would only have been possible with great technical and financial expenditure.
The end came in November 2009, when line 683 was extended to a new bus station at the Seilbahn Burg ropeway terminal. This service was made possible through the use of new articulated trolleybuses fitted with a diesel-engine auxiliary drive, allowing them to operate beyond the end of the trolleybus wires.
The former “Burgbrücke” stop, which was located in the short cul-de-sac between Solingerstraße and the turntable, was moved to the other side of the Wupper river.
And the future for the disused turntable.
The Unterburg turntable is to be permanently preserved for special journeys of the Trolleybus Museum. It also benefits from the fact that it was only renovated in the middle of 2004 and thus has a lifespan of ten to fifteen years. However Stadtwerke Solingen has yet to make a final decision on the future of the trolleybus turntable.
Other trolleybus turntables
Three other trolleybus turntables once existed elsewhere in the world:
- Christchurch, Great Britain: in service 1936 to 1969
- Huddersfield, Great Britain: in service 1939 to 1940
- Guadalajara, Mexico: in service 1982 to 1983, and 1985 to 1988
Plus the oddball turntables I’ve written about previously.
- Turning a locomotive on a reversing star
- Turning trams on a turntable in Kiev
- Rigi Bahnen and the weirdest ever turntable
- What happens if you combine a turntable with a train lift?
- Unterburg trolleybus turntable (Wikipedia)
- Trolleybuses in Solingen (Wikipedia)
Your closure date for the Longwood turntable (in Huddersfield) needs a little more amplification. Use of the turntable did cease for a period in WW2, but resumed after the hostilities ceased. Final use of the turntable by trolleybuses was in July 1966, with it then being used as a reversing bay by replacement buses, before becoming unused until demolition in the late 1980’s. It was an elevated pre-stressed concrete structure built out over a hillside, and I guess by then, it had reached the end of its design life. The webpage
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolleybuses_in_Huddersfield was useful with the dates of operation. I like your blog, always something of interest.
Hi Phil, glad you like the blog, and thanks for the clarification.