Opened on 26 August 1936, the Johannesburg system gradually supplemented the Johannesburg tramway network.
The system eventually partially replaced the tramway network, the latter lasting for several more decades until its closure on 2 August 1961. However, the trolleybus system itself closed, on 10 January 1986.
Commercial Motor Magazine originally printed the following on 14th November 1941
Due to the abnormal circumstances of the day the opportunity is being taken by London Transport to operate trolleybuses originally intended for South Africa-25 for Durban and 18 for Johannesburg. The chief feature of interest is that the African vehicles are 6 ins, wider than the maximum width of 7 ft 6 in. permitted in this country. This enabled the width of the gangway and seats to be increased slightly, with a consequent improvement in comfort, and with more room for the conductor to pass along the gangway. The extra width, of course, entails an increase in weight to 9 tons 19 cwt. 3 qrs. empty, or approximately 14+ tons •with 72 seated passengers. This is 1 ton more than normally allowed here. Another feature in which the African trolleybuses differ is as a result of the warmer conditions. Drop windows are fitted throughout, and the upper halves are provided with Purdah glass, thus providing plenty of ventilation and reducing glare from the sun.
In other aspects the Vehicles generally conform with practice in this country. The driver's cab occupies the full width of the vehicle.
The chassis is the rigid six-wheeled type with an 18-ft. 7-in. wheel-base and is provided with standard-type bornpressed-air brakes.
British built 589 was one of these vehicles, requisitioned by London Transport during the war. After hostilities were over, the batch were finally delivered to Africa.
The vehicle is currently receiving extensive restoration in the South of England. This is in an advanced stage. It is hoped that 589 will finally arrive at the Museum before too long.
The current plan is that it will be painted in London Transport wartime livery initially, before eventually taking on a Johannesburg hue.