Ten lost or not-so-lost bus termini within our conurbation
As a logical step from previous postings on Lost Bus Routes of the Greater Manchester area, I thought it would have been a good idea to focus on our dearly departed bus stands. Lost bus stations, stances, shelters, termini and turnarounds. For instance, stops which may have move a few yards and lost a shelter in the process. Stops which are under supermarkets, places we dearly miss, or are glad to see the back of.
Yet these humble combines are as much a part of our history as local landmarks, churches, night clubs and public swimming baths. They are places where we not only waited for buses, but ate takeaways in or had a quick fumble and the like. It is the subject of this instalment of ‘The Not So Perfect Ten’.
- Whitefield Bus Station;
- Albion Hotel, Dukinfield;
- Howell Croft Bus Station, Bolton;
- Eccles Bus Station;
- Victoria Bus Station, Manchester;
- Oldham Coach Station;
- Clegg Street Bus Station, Oldham;
- Mersey Square stands, Stockport;
- Leigh bus station;
- Altrincham coach station.
1. Whitefield Bus Station
For several years, Whitefield was linked with Bury and Manchester by means of third rail electric trains. In the mid 1930s, there was a need for integrating bus with rail traction. Hence the construction of Whitefield’s bus station off Stanley Road. It was the northern terminus of the 96 route to East Didsbury and an intermediate stop on the 94 from Manchester to Bolton via Prestwich.
Buses entered from Stanley Road in an anti-clockwise direction with stands on the outer part of the road. As a hangover from the failed Picc-Vic Project, it was refurbished in the mid to late 1970s with toilets and a SaverSales office.
What happened next? The station was destaffed in the mid-1990s with its latter day guise only having two shelters. Today, a Morrisons store occupies the site of Whitefield bus station. Services now call on Bury New Road instead or at two stands on the side of the Metrolink station’s Manchester platform.
2. Albion Hotel, Dukinfield (Eastbound shelter):
For several years, the Albion Hotel stop has remained an important stop for services to Manchester, Oldham, Ashton-under-Lyne and Hyde. Historically, it was a terminus for the 21 route prior to its extension to Tennyson Avenue as the 221, and an important terminus for SHMD’s tram routes. In its heyday, the terminus had a commodious shelter complete with toilets. It serviced passengers for the Oxford Cinema and its concurrent guises as the Moon, Hiccups and Drifters discos.
What happened next? Buses still call at the Albion Hotel terminus, only that the new one is 20 yards east of its original position. The commodious shelter was replaced by a standard shelter in the 1970s. It was demolished in 2002. For a while, the newer eastbound stop had no shelter. This was rectified in 2018. At the start of this year , a nice new stainless steel bus stop has been added, in lieu of the lamp post that is awaiting demolition.
3. Howell Croft Bus Station, Bolton:
Not far from Newport Street, Bolton’s main shopping street was Howell Croft Bus Station. It was a favoured stopping place for trolleybus services, close to the Odeon cinema and the market hall. It was right at the heart of the town centre. Bolton Corporation and South Lancashire Transport were the station’s main users.
What happened next? Howell Croft Bus Station became the site of the Octagon Theatre, an award-winning repertory theatre since the late 1960s. Services were moved to the present day Moor Lane Bus Station.
4. Eccles Bus Station:
The original Eccles bus station had two banks of stands with pitch roof shelters. This was used by Salford Corporation and Lancashire United Transport services. By 1979, the pitch roof shelters were replaced by run of the mill Queensbury shelters seen throughout the Greater Manchester Transport network. The shelters were situated in front of the open market ground.
What happened next? Part of the old bus station is Eccles’ Metrolink terminus and a Morrisons store. The new bus station opened in 2001 (some 50 yards west of previous site) with four stands on a single platform and a taxi pick-up point. Its Travelshop is in a shop unit a few yards from the station.
5. Victoria Bus Station, Salford/Manchester:
There had been a bus station off Victoria Bridge since the 1930s. The outer section of the station had stands along the perimeter with westbound facing stands in the centre. The original set of stands came from recycled tram cars with cantilever metal shelters in the centre. A brick building with access from the station and Victoria Bridge had toilets from the bridge side, and an enquiry office and newsagent at the station side. Victoria Bus Station was often confused by many with the stands around Manchester Victoria railway station and Greengate bus station, underneath Exchange station.
What happened next? In its first form, Victoria Bus Station was used right up to 1988. It was derelict until 2005 when GMPTE brought it back into use as a stopgap prior to the opening of Shudehill Interchange. Instead of reverting to its previous layout, they favoured a single terminal layout where buses would pull in and reverse out. Though some passengers regarded the temporary facilities as better for the city centre than its forerunner, it became a car park before being landscaped.
6. Oldham Coach Station, Rhodes Bank:
The centre of Oldham has gone through a fair share of bus termini in its last 50 years. Other than Mumps Bridge and Clegg Street, one less obvious station was the coach station at Rhodes Bank. Till 1989, it was a regular haunt for National Bus Company services and Yelloway coach excursions.
Opting for a pull in and reverse out method, it was an austere place with access via the station’s travel centre or a gate. From the travel centre, passengers would book their ticket and go through a full length turnstile, prior to boarding their National Express or Yelloway service. I remember the turnstile and terminal making for a depressing facility, though the Yelloway coach I boarded for Chester Zoo in 1984 was a fine vehicle.
What happened next? After a brief period as a charity shop, the travel centre remains vacant. The bus station itself was later used by First Manchester as a bus park for out of service vehicles. Today, the bus station is a private car park and the terminal roof has been demolished of late.
7. Clegg Street Bus Station, Oldham:
A short distance from the coach station off Union Street was a modern bus station on Clegg Street. The one I am not referring to is GMPTE’s 1981 example beside the Town Square Shopping Centre. I am referring to one on the southern side of Clegg Street.
Opening in 1966 was North Western Road Car Company’s most northerly depot, which included a bus station under the same roof. It was a modern concrete and grey bricked building of similar design to the present Manchester Arriva depot. If anybody else can fill me in more on its original purpose, I would like to hear from you.
What happened next? The depot was surplus to requirements after SELNEC’s acquisition of North Western Road Car Company services in its operating area. In 1973, Oldham services moved to the Wallshaw Street with buses calling at the Mumps Bridge stands and Market Place stops instead. It was sold to the Co-op before being converted to a night club, known at one stage as ‘Henry Afrikas’. Then it was demolished at around 2000. Sainsburys and TK Maxx stores occupy the site of a bus garage which only lasted 7 years!
8. Mersey Square stands, Stockport:
Before the opening of Stockport bus station in 1980, the main terminus for Stockport was Mersey Square. Passengers alighted and boarded at stands facing the Plaza cinema. Buses were housed on the left of The Mersey Tavern (today’s Chestergate pub) or on an open air bus park west of Wellington Road South bridge.
What happened next? Mersey Square bus depot was demolished in the early 1960s to make way for the Merseyway Shopping Centre. By 1970, Stockport’s buses moved to the new Daw Bank depot west of the viaduct. The Mersey Square bus stands continued in use till 1980. Over 30 years on, Mersey Square’s road layout has been remodelled leaving no trace of any passengers alighting or boarding (unless you count the nearby stops on the side of Merseyway precinct).
9. Leigh Bus Station, Spinning Jenny Street, Leigh:
On the southern side of Lancashire United Transport’s 82, Leigh had two small bus stations. One was close to market hall on King Street, served by the corporation’s buses. The second one was of Spinning Jenny Street.
Leigh’s largely forgotten bus station was the terminal point for South Lancashire Transport’s trolleybus services and Lancashire United Transport’s services prior to its acquisition by Greater Manchester Transport. Services departing from there included the 51 to Warrington, with trolleybuses for Bolton and Mosley Common.
What happened next? Spinning Jenny Street bus station was surplus to requirement by deregulation. All services were transferred to King Street with a new GMPTE Standard bus station opening in 1991. Part of the enquiry office of Spinning Jenny Street bus station is used as a taxi office.
10. Altrincham Coach Station, Stamford New Road:
Altrincham’s pre-1969 buses were offered largely by North Western Road Car Company who also operated Altrincham’s original bus station. The terminus was opposite the railway station, on the right hand side of The Station pub. Buses pulled in and reversed out.
What happened next? Altrincham’s bus station moved to the railway station’s forecourt, opening in 1976. It was the first new bus station to have opened under GMPTE, with great emphasis on integrating bus and train connections. The old bus station became a mixed-use development incorporating a new library (opening in 1981) and the Stamford Shopping Centre which had its own footbridge to Altrincham Interchange. Today’s version of Altrincham Interchange has five bus stands and a glass footbridge that replaced the leaky predecessor.
All change please…
Feel free to add any comments and anecdotes about the lost termini mentioned here. Or suggest a few others for a future feature. If you can recall waiting for buses at Victoria Bus Station or remember using any of the two from Oldham as a driver, we would love to hear from you.
S.V., 07 January 2011.
Updated on the 09 February 2021.