10 Bus Shelters to Visit Before You Leave This World
Somewhere in the depth of time (at least in internet terms) we were using the world wide web to rate pictures of cute cats, instead of playing Mafia Wars and tweeting our bowel movements to the nth degree. Back then, I was thinking of developing a similar site called ‘RateMyBusShelter.com’. The idea of course was so bus users could rate out of ten their favourite bus shelter. It would have been like a Top Trumps for bus shelters, with points given for each one in terms of warmth, cover and architectural style.
At the time, I dismissed this, on the grounds there won’t be enough shelters to justify such a project. Then I realised in later years that it would be worth sharing some with the rest of cyberspace, hence of course today’s ‘Not So Perfect Ten’ post. In most cases, the modern day bus shelter is a glass edifice which provides little or (if somebody’s vandalised the thing) no protection from the elements. This of course is one reason why people are put off bus travel, in addition to the timetables, fares and penalties for using Company A’s return ticket on Company B’s routes a few hours later.
Before the vagaries of free market economics hit bus travel outside London and Northern Ireland, our bus shelters were built as if they were meant to last forever in the Ruskin sense. Built to outlast any service changes, though most of which have gone the way of the Hale Barns Express and the X1 from Southend to London. Even so, there are a few hardy survivors, and a few modern day ones which would make the likes of Stuart Pilcher feel proud.
- Shakespeare Street, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire;
- Noblett’s Bus Shelter, Audenshaw, Lancashire;
- Market Place bus shelter, Hyde, Cheshire;
- Wellington Road stands, Stockport, Cheshire;
- Manchester Piccadilly station, Station Approach, Manchester, Lancashire;
- Wakefield Road southbound shelter, Heyrod, Stalybridge, Cheshire;
- Old Steine bus shelters, Brighton, East Sussex;
- Thorpe Lane bus shelter, Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire;
- Carleton bus shelter, Blackpool Road, Lancashire;
- Jurby Airfield bus shelter, Jurby, Isle of Man.
1. Shakespeare Street, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire
This shelter is a real survivor. When I first saw this shelter in February 2005, I thought I was in 1973, Sam Tyler fashion. The only reference to 2005 I had in that split second was the fact it had cost me £16.00 return to Gainsborough Lea Road from Stalybridge, as I was seeing The Mighty Stalybridge Celtic play Gainsborough Trinity at the time (we drew 2-2 that season). Given its rather shallow roof, it doesn’t look as if it will keep me dry enough. Then again, it has been in use for fifty years and has proved its worth among passengers of the 100 route to Scunthorpe.
2. Noblett’s Bus Shelter, Audenshaw, Lancashire
This shelter has survived demolition attempts and is very much a landmark in Audenshaw. Dating from the 1920s, it is the preserve of the town’s Manchester bound bus routes (217, 219 – 221). Under the direction of Robert Noblett, it was built to enable workers from his mill opposite to wait for Manchester bound trolleybuses and buses in comfort.
3. Market Place bus shelter, Hyde, Cheshire
A familiar landmark in the Cheshire market town, this handsome shelter is one of the town’s busiest bus stops. It is one of two in Tameside which were built by the Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Joint Board that are still standing. The shelter has survived numerous instances of vandalism over its 80 year lifespan, yet has stood the test of time better than modern examples. Popular with passengers of the 330 and 346 routes, it has been restored in recent times and provides better cover than many of the modern examples in the borough.
4. Wellington Road North and South bus stands, Stockport, Cheshire
The northbound and southbound stands on the A6 are designed to a much higher standard than most normal shelters, and even GMPTE’s mid-1980s bus stations. A causal effect of this is the replacement of outdated facilities on Wellington Road South, the A6 being a Quality Bus Corridor and the popularity of the 192 route. Featuring more comfortable seats, it is a cut above the rest of several bus stations – let alone bus shelters – outside of Greater London.
5. Station Approach, Manchester Piccadilly railway station, Manchester, Lancashire
In more modest form, yet similar to the Wellington Road example seen above, the smaller shelters at Manchester Piccadilly station are slightly elliptical. Though not as over-engineered, they are of a higher standard of design and blend in well with Seifert’s Gateway House and the railway station entrance. There are two shelters which see frequent usage for Metroshuttle services and rail replacement buses.
6. Wakefield Road, Heyrod, Stalybridge, Cheshire
Adjacent to the former Grapes Inn and present day Conservative Club, this one is a rare beast for Greater Manchester. That rare beast being a prefabricated concrete shelter. Rarer still is the fact it dates from the SHMD era. At one time it was a busy stop for employees of the nearby Hartshead Power Station (long demolished). Today, it is served by the 353 and 354 services which continue to Uppermill via Roughtown and Roaches Lock.
7. Old Steine bus shelters, Brighton, East Sussex
Brighton seems to have something for everyone as a seaside resort: the ornate Pavilion, its pebbly beach, excellent shops and a bohemian air about itself. Yet, East Sussex’s answer to Blackpool is a happy hunting for Art Deco Bus Shelter fanatics like myself. The Old Steine and Churchill Gardens area of Brighton is blessed with them. Built in 1939 for the seaside town’s trolleybuses, they take us back to a time when having the best municipal transport undertaking was a form of civic pride – mercilessly ruined by deregulation and privatisation. Even so, full credit should be given to Brighton and Hove City Council for retaining these icons.
8. Thorpe Lane, Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire
If you take away the waiting area, bus stop, flag and the bin, you may mistake this structure for a garage. Robin Hood’s Bay’s main bus stop is the village’s connection with the wider bus network, as the rest of the village is too steep for heavy vehicles. I’ve passed the stop a few times aboard the 93 to Whitby and Middlesbrough, and one of the great joys of this shelter is its other use. That other use being a veritable information point for activities within the village. Besides telling you the fact there’s no longer a Sunday service, there is also information on forthcoming summer fairs, jumble sales and carol concerts. On my first journey in 2001, the bus timetable was in large print, beautifully crafted by its residents (the Big Society in Excelsis).
9. Carleton Crematorium bus shelter, Blackpool Road, Carleton, Lancashire
Defiantly standing up to the march of Blackpool Transport’s more ‘plastic’ bus shelters, this is a rare example of the unitary authority’s once common cast iron shelters. Till recently, such examples were seen along the tramway and at key locations within the resort. Though its days appear to be numbered, this example probably offers better shelter than its inevitable successors. See this shelter while you can by boarding the 14 bus from Blackpool (Talbot Square) or Fleetwood.
10. Jurby East bus shelter, Isle of Man
For our final shelter we take the Ben My Chree V from Heysham to Douglas, purchase an Explorer ticket and visit the famed Jurby Junk (by means of a bus or electric train to Ramsey, changing there for the 19). A short walk away from this is a green and white bus shelter seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The bus shelter at Jurby East is a rather utilitarian brick shelter with a comfortable green bench (great for picnicking) – all the more needed due to its exposed position and paucity of buses. In spite of this, it is a lovable relic.
Gimme More Shelters?
If you could add to the list or comment on the ten shelters stated within this piece, feel free to do so.
S.V., 23 June 2011.