The Case of the Missing Macclesfield Hospital Bus

A case closed from Barrett Holmes

Somewhere within More Lost Bus Routes of Greater Manchester is reference to a bus route from Stalybridge to Macclesfield Hospital operated by North Western Road Car Company. Thanks to a little clearout I had recently I found what I had considered to be the Holy Grail.

Inside Greater Manchester Transport’s 1985 Glossop Area services leaflet is the Stalybridge – Macclesfield route. The service was given a number within the Tameside and Glossop area set of routes. It was an extension of the 398 route from Glossop to Ashton-under-Lyne via Stalybridge.

Most of the 398 route was been replaced by the 239 via Broadbottom (operated by SpeedwellBus till May 2011). This working differed from the normal 398 service in that it only observed the stops listed on the timetable. Concessionary fares were unavailable and the journey was only available to passengers visiting Parkside Hospital. Clippercards and SaverSeven tickets were not accepted throughout the journey.

The service only ran on Saturdays with no weekday, Sunday and Bank Holiday operations. The route began at the bus terminus at Glossop outside the Duke of Norfolk pub, then to Ashton via Broadbottom and Stalybridge. A further stop was made at Denton Crown Point before the bus joined the M63 and the M56 motorways. The service continued to Macclesfield via Altrincham Interchange and Mere Country Club.

Macclesfield Parkside Hospital was originally the County Asylum for the County Palatine of Cheshire. It opened in 1871 and closed in January 1997.  Further information on the complex is available on the County Asylums website, which covers what we eloquently called in less PC times lunatic asylums.

I would like to hear further comments from anybody who worked there or visited Parkside by means of this bus route.

S.V., 10 December 2009.

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6 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Macclesfield Hospital Bus

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  1. Stuart,

    I have lived about a 5 minute walk from the site of the former Parkside hospital for over 30 years, and somewhere up in my loft I’m sure there are photos of a Selnec/GM PTE Bristol RE/ECW coach and coach seated double decker parked-up at the hospital.

    Don’t forget, until 1974 places like Hyde and Staylebridge were part of Cheshire so there was probably a good number of families in those areas whose relative was an inpatient at the hospital, so I presume the service was timed around visiting hours.

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  2. Hi Nick,

    You are spot on about the service connecting within hospital visiting hours. When the hospital first opened in 1871, it was built to serve patients from Ashton-under-Lyne (in Lancashire) as well as Stalybridge, Dukinfield and other areas which made up the pre-1974 Cheshire boundary.

    The place is also of interest to me, not just in the transport sense, but over the possibility that in its early years, people with autism spectrum disorders (who integrate within public life) may have been sent to Parkside. Heck! I could have been one of the patients if I was born 50 – 100 years earlier.

    Stuart.

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  3. This was a favourite working at Glossop shed. Nice easy track, with a pleasant break at the Crosville depot in Macc in the middle. The route you give isn’t quite what I recall working (in the late 1980s); we didn’t use the motorway from Denton, but ran via Reddish and Stockport – we had pickups in Sale and Ashton-on-Mersey as well. Careful note was taken of where passengers actually got on (there were usually about 12 of them) and the route back adjusted accordingly. Often you could cut out about half the route and end up booking off nearly an hour early. We were also instructed to count the alighting passengers at Parkside, and if we got more than that getting on for the return trip, alert the hospital porters!

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  4. Hi D9000,

    Thanks for that nugget of information regarding the route and the motorways. I note the return working was the reason why no return timetable was ever published (besides the time it would leave Parkside Hospital). In a sense this must have been akin to today’s demand responsive transport systems.

    Stuart.

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  5. I worked for GMPTE at Glossop from Feb 1986 until 1989 and did the Parkside service a few times. Because we only ever had 3 passengers on it (it was a flat fare of £1.40) we used to deviate on the return trip. The lady who caught it on Ashton lived in Denton so we all used to come back through Bredbury, drop her at Crown Point, then Hyde and up the M67 back to Glossop. It wasn’t unusual to be back in depot an hour early. Happy days.

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  6. I used to drive the 398 regularly,whilst at Glossop Depot. A normal drive on the service was 60 coach. We used to park up at Macclesfield depot (Crosville) . One day 60 would not start,so Crosville lent me a Leyland National to do the return to Glossop.

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