It won’t surprise anyone to discover that there is a difference between nostalgia and history. Of course there is.
But it is startlingly easy to blur the lines if you are not careful. Here is a (relatively trivial) case in point.
Who doesn’t love Perth’s old trolley buses? You can even purchase a book showing how delightful they were:
So, it is reasonable to assume that they were loved in their day. Weren’t they?
Let’s ask legendary town planner, Harold Boas. He was responding to a 1936 proposal to extend the trolley bus service to Subiaco, which would involve the service using Mounts Bay Road or Kings Park Road. Harold’s opinion:
We have been battling to improve our highways, and now the Government comes along and is prepared to set us back a quarter of a century.
Basically, the trolley bus service, which had commenced in 1933, was seen as ruining the streetscape by disfiguring it with poles and overhead gear.
Nor did the anxiety die down. Two years after Boas’ damning statement, traders along St Georges Terrace were up in arms:
Strong protests continue to be made regarding the proposed use of St. Georges Terrace. General trend of those opinions is that the use of the Terrace as a trolley bus route would spoil one of Perth’s prized streets. On aesthetic grounds strong protests continue to be made.
So, while it’s wonderful to reflect nostalgically on trolley buses, don’t assume that anyone at the time actually liked the buggers.