An electrobus outside the Bank of England on its way back to Victoria Station. The photo dates from 1908.

The electrobus was the world’s first practical electric bus. After demonstrating a prototype battery-electric bus in April 1906 the London Electrobus Company began running its first bus route from Victoria Station to Liverpool Street on 15 July 1907. By the end of the year the London Electrobus Company had a fleet of seven buses.

The number of electrobuses on the road grew slowly during 1908. By the end of this year London had a fleet of 20 electrobuses and the London Electrobus Company had begun running a second route from Victoria to Kilburn. But the London electrobus service went into a slow decline during 1909 and finally ended on 3 January 1910. The reason for the demise of the electrobus was that the companies that made and ran the buses were controlled by of a gang of fraudulent financiers, who ruthlessly looted the company’s coffers to finance their lavish lifestyles. You can read more about the story of this fraud in the award-winning book A Most Deliberate Swindle.

Brighton was the only town outside London to have electrobuses. It took delivery of its first electrobus in April 1908 and added three more to its fleet over the next eighteen months. The local bus company, the Brighton, Hove and Preston United, built a new garage and charging station specially to house its fleet of electrobuses.

In 1910 the bus company bought eight second-hand electrobuses from London bringing the Brighton fleet up to 12 electric buses. The rest of the London electrobuses were broken up for spares.

The electrobuses continued to run in Brighton and Hove until April 1917. Each of the buses clocked up more than 200,000 miles in a lifetime of about 10 years. Wartime petrol shortages gave the bus company a powerful incentive to keep the electrobuses running. The electrobuses finally stopped when the bus company, now owned by national transport group called Thomas Tilling, ran out of spare parts.