Since I wrote the first instalment of Lost Bus Routes of Greater Manchester, there has already been a favourable response in terms of comments and visitor numbers. This has prompted me to continue the series further. With the fluid nature of post-deregulation bus operations from 1986, it has made for fascinating reading and jogged a few memories of those who have almost forgotten the routes.
Once more, East of the M60 has dug another ten lost bus routes within the Greater Manchester area. This time, our starter for ten is as follows. Once more, the asterisk symbolises the ones I have boarded in the past:
- 424: Manchester – Newton Heath – Failsworth – Fitton Hill – Ashton-under-Lyne*;
- 1A: Ashton – Newton [Bradley Green] – Hyde*;
- X35: Hyde – Glossop (Express);
- 762: Glossop – Hattersley – Denton;
- No number: Macclesfield – Glossop – Stalybridge;
- 336: Park Bridge – Ashton-under-Lyne;
- 300: Ashton town service;
- 201: Manchester – Macclesfield – Derby*;
- 562: Oldham – Ripponden – Halifax*;
- 342: Ashton-under-Lyne – Stalybridge – Hyde (via Yew Tree).
1: Manchester – Newton Heath – Fitton Hill – Ashton-under-Lyne (424):
Mayne of Manchester was no stranger to the deregulated environment. The company survived the original spell of bus deregulation in the early 1930s and by 1987 started running services away from Ashton New Road. One of Mayne’s first forays into post-deregulation bus operations was the 424 route from Ashton-under-Lyne to Fitton Hill.
This was launched in early 1988 using Bristol VRTs. The latter part of the year saw its Daimler Fleetlines become regular visitors. It was probably the first time that any of Ralph Bennett’s own designs infiltrated Keswick Avenue and Fir Tree Avenue (albeit his London Transport DMS class vehicles rather than the Mancunian style Atlanteans). By the following year, the service was extended to Manchester.
What happened next? The 424 service was withdrawn in 1996, replaced by the 434 (operated by First Manchester). In 2001, this service was withdrawn and renumbered 396 when operated by Vale of Manchester. From 2004 to 2012, SpeedwellBus have operated this route, along with its sister route 395 (Ashton – Limehurst Farm estate). Since September 2019, it had absorbed the 395 with Stott’s Tours taking over from MCT Travel. It also serves Higher Hurst and Smallshaw.
With the demise of the 393 route (hence the Hurst diversion), it gained evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday part route journeys up to Limehurst Farm Hurst. These were operated by MCT Travel prior to the 18 April 2020. Following HCT Group’s retreat from Greater Manchester (and its cessation of MCT Travel operations), Stagecoach took over.
2: Ashton-under-Lyne – Dukinfield – Hyde (via Bradley Green) (1A):
In 1993, GM Buses, then months away from its split saw competition from private bus owning groups and independents alike. Tameside was no exception, with many benefiting from the closure of the Whitelands Road depot. One of them was Pennine Blue, whom in 1993 was bought out by Badgerline. A year after, competition between them and GM Buses saw the inception of the 1A route.
Whereas GM Buses’ minibus service 1 from Ashton to Hyde followed the 343 route up to Dukinfield Arms, and continued to Ashton via the Albion Hotel and King Street, Pennine’s served Bradley Green Road. Both the 1 and 1A also stopped at the Morrisons superstore forecourt in Dukinfield. Unlike the 1 which used Ashton bus station, the 1A actually terminated at nearby Gas Street, outside the Beau Geste pub and near the shopping precinct.
What happened next: the 1A was withdrawn in 1995, after Pennine took over the 1 route. With an hourly frequency, the route continued till 1999 when it was merged with the 40 route to form the 41, continuing to Hyde via Yew Tree estate. The Yew Tree to Hyde section of the 41 was withdrawn in 2004. This was became part of the 387 route, which followed the 389’s route up to Yew Tree. In April 2007, the 387 was withdrawn.
3: Hyde – Glossop (X35):
In 2003, Stagecoach Manchester still operated a direct route from Manchester to Glossop via Hyde and Hattersley, in the form of an extended 201 service. With reliability a problem, their answer was an express service between Hyde and Glossop which began operating in October 2003.
This was achieved by the curtailment of the Glossop 201 to Hattersley, and its replacement being peak hour service X35. This followed the 201 route to Hattersley then continued via Broadbottom, Charlesworth and Gamesley before reaching Glossop.
What happened next? Unusually for Stagecoach Manchester, this service was quite short lived. It was withdrawn in March 2005. Speedwell’s 239 and 341 services from Stalybridge and Hyde followed the old X35 route. The latter route replaced both the peak hour X35 and other Stagecoach service 397. Today, Stott’s Tours’ 341 route is the only bus route between Hyde and Glossop – and a pretty meandering one at that.
4: Glossop – Hattersley – Denton (762):
Another odd peak hour working out of Glossop came courtesy of the 762 route. This ran on a weekdays basis, coinciding with the shift patterns of Bentwood Lingerie works, and called at Hattersley before terminating at Denton.
The 762 was purely a works service. It did not feature on bus stop flags and on information panels within the GMPTE boundary. However, it did appear in Derbyshire County Council’s Peak District Timetable and, for its short life, was operated by Glossopdale Bus Company.
This was complemented by the 761 and 763 routes. The 761 followed the 394 route down to Marple. The 763, which we had erroneously referred to as the 762 on this blog, went to Ashton-under-Lyne, following the 237 route.
What happened next? April 1999 saw the acquisition of Glossopdale’s route by Stagecoach Manchester. All three services were withdrawn in October 1999. In 2003, a planning application was made to Derbyshire County Council for the works’ conversion to apartments. Today it houses a Travelodge hotel, a branch of Peacocks (with a party wall to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill) and The Smithy Fold – a popular addition to J.D. Wetherspoon’s burgeoning empire.
5: Stalybridge – Macclesfield (Parkside Hospital):
Even more obscure (and probably the most obscure one of this article) was an unnumbered service from Stalybridge – Macclesfield, Parkside Hospital via Glossop. Parkside Hospital, on the outskirts of Macclesfield was a mental hospital serving the North East Cheshire area. This service operated once weekly with departure times connecting with hospital visiting times.
The service was operated by North Western Road Car Company and was inherited from them by SELNEC (who took over their routes in North East Cheshire), and remained unnumbered after their 1973 – 1974 renumbering programme.
What happened next? The Government’s Care in the Community (1983 Mental Health Act) put paid to this route as the hospital itself closed. On the site of the hospital is a housing estate, which is a short walk from the neighbouring Macclesfield General Hospital. The service was withdrawn around 1986 – 1987, though the section between Glossop and Macclesfield town centre was served by Arriva North West service 60. There is no link between the two towns.
6: Ashton-under-Lyne – Park Bridge (336):
Close to the boundary of Oldham and Tameside is the one time industrial hamlet of Park Bridge. Being noted for its ironworks it brought the world its rivets for the Eiffel Tower. Park Bridge’s prosperity was boosted furthermore by the coming of the OA&GB railway, with a direct service to Oldham, Manchester and Stockport. If only it had some buses!
Park Bridge was first connected by bus from the late 1950s by Ashton Corporation’s number 6 route. Journeys were timed to suit shift patterns with extra journeys on market days at Ashton market. The inception of the bus service came about after the Oldham, Ashton and Guide Bridge railway line closed to passenger traffic in 1960. The service continued as the 336 after 1973.
What happened next? The service was renumbered 341 in 1980, and withdrawn in 1985. In November 1988, GM Buses chose to resurrect the Park Bridge link with a minibus service via Keb Lane. Since then, Park Bridge has remained a bus free zone (with the 409 and 419 routes requiring a lengthy walk from the hamlet).
7: Ashton-under-Lyne town centre shuttle (300):
Since the end of 2008, Stockport and Bolton have boasted free Metroshuttle style town centre buses. Before then, Ashton-under-Lyne had its own short lived shuttle service, in the form of the 300.
Operated by First Pioneer, its purpose was a short circular route directing shoppers to the Phoenix Market Hall and the shops on Stamford Street. The route took in Wellington Road, Penny Meadow, St. Michael’s Square, Stamford Street and returned to the bus station via Booth Street and Gas Street. The route launched in 2005 as a free bus service, and for a brief period continued to the Cineworld Multiplex at Ashton Moss.
What happened next? Route 300 was withdrawn in November 2007, weeks before the service would have served its purpose fully (towards Christmas). The Ashton Moss section of the route was scrapped a year earlier after Mayne of Manchester and Stagecoach Manchester diverted the 7 and 217 routes to stop at Lord Sheldon Way. A year later, Stockport’s town centre shuttle service was launched – ironically using the number 300!
8: Manchester – Macclesfield – Leek – Derby (201):
Sorely missed in Greater Manchester are the heady days of the long distance bus services using dual purpose vehicles. Its apogee came in the mid 1960s when North Western Road Car Company operated services to Macclesfield, Northwich and Derby. One example was the 201. This route (in another form) was also inherited by SELNEC after North Western’s North East Cheshire operations were absorbed.
In contrast to the TransPeak route to Derby and Nottingham via Buxton, the 201 followed the route of the 192 up to Hazel Grove and continued to Macclesfield, Leek and Ashbourne before reaching Derby bus station. In the mid 1990s, GM Buses South operated the route using former Charterplan owned coaches.
What happened next? The route was renumbered X1 and operated by First Manchester and First PMT. The service was withdrawn by First in May 2003 (also the same month as the 400 Trans-Lancs Express) and taken over by Trent Barton. The following year saw the service reduced even further: the Manchester to Macclesfield section was no more; the Macclesfield to Ashbourne section was renumbered 107 and taken over by local independent Clowes. The Ashbourne to Derby section became Arriva North Midlands route 108 (also continuing to Mayfield).
From 2005 to 2010, a Sundays only service was operated by D&G Coaches between Stockport and Leek, with Monday to Saturday services between Stockport and Macclesfield operated by BakerBus service 93 (late Arriva Cheshire service 393).
9: Oldham – Ripponden – Halifax (562):
One of the most scenic bus journeys into West Yorkshire was the 562 from Oldham to Halifax. Taking in Denshaw and Rishworth, the route was operated solely by Yorkshire Rider from 1989 to 2002. After then, Yorkshire Rider (with Halifax and Calderdale operations renamed First Halifax) shared the route with First Manchester (from its Oldham and Tameside depots). The service had its roots in Yelloway service 556 from 1987 to 1988 before being operated by Crosville for a short period in 1989.
Common fare on First Manchester journeys from 2002 to 2006 were Northern Counties bodied MCW Metrobuses, formerly used on the 400 Trans-Lancs Express route. In the evenings and on Sunday services, First Calderdale’s single deckers would take over, operating its service on a two hourly basis.
What happened next? The service was revised in 2005 to operate via Royton and Royal Oldham Hospital then withdrawn the following year. Another service, 407, took over the Ripponden Road section between Greenacres and Besom Hill, continuing to Denshaw. In April 2009, the evening service was withdrawn, replaced by a demand responsive transport service.
Today, Nexus Move’s newly upgraded 356 route on operates part of the 562 (pre 2005) route up to Denshaw, also serving the Pennine Meadows estate (Turf Pit Lane to us old-timers). The previous 356 route started life as the Saddleworth Rambler, a route designed to link the northern part of Saddleworth with Greenfield railway station. This route has retained the 407’s hourly frequency, seven days a week. It also takes in the 353, 354 and 355 routes.
10: Ashton-under-Lyne – Stalybridge – Dukinfield (Yew Tree) – Hyde (342):
The 342 has its roots in the part route journeys of SHMD route 11 (numbered 11A) and its successor the 346. Before 1978, the 346 was every 20 minutes between Ashton-under-Lyne and Dukinfield (Albion Hotel), serving Newton (Lodge Street) every 40 minutes, with one journey in between continuing to Yew Tree Lane.
In January 1977, the short journeys of the 346 to Yew Tree, then renumbered as the 342, were withdrawn. This came into effect at the same time as the 346’s absorption of the 350 and 351 Shaw Hall Circular routes. Similarly, the 339 and 340 routes became circulars. In 1981, the number was resurrected to link Ridge Hill estate with Yew Tree estate, following in most part today’s 389 route.
The service followed the 346 route from Cheetham Hill Road up to Newton (Cheshire Cheese), then continued to Hyde via Commercial Street and Halton Street, before entering Hyde bus station via Mottram New Road (passing the Fine Fare hypermarket) and Clarendon Place.
What happened next? The service was withdrawn in 1985. Most of the route was merged with the 389, diverted away from Cheetham Hill Road between the Lodge Hotel and Yew Tree Primary School.
The Ashton – Ridge Hill – Stalybridge section became part of the 389 and remains so to this day. Commercial Street, Newton (Cheshire Cheese – Duke of Sussex) is no longer bus served being at either end of the 346 route. Halton Street too is no longer bus served, being close to stops for the 346 and 201 routes – despite being on a steep gradient. The Fine Fare store is now a Morrisons superstore, and at the time of the 342’s withdrawal, was split to accommodate Do It All (late Fine Fare’s ‘Fix and Fit’ store).
Before I go…
I welcome your comments on these routes mentioned above.
S.V., 06 November 2009.
Last revised on the 19 April 2020.