Lie Dream of the Bee Line Buzz Company Scene
Dusting off the cobwebs of a largely competition free Inverness Road and Thorncliffe Avenue, GM Buses’ 339 and 340 routes experienced competition in the mould of a local company.
Private hire company Pine Coaches launched the P1 service in the spring of 1989. It became the first bus service to serve the Morrisons store in Dukinfield. Whereas the 220 and 346 buses stopped a few yards before the supermarket, this service actually stopped at the forecourt. It was a straightforward local service linking Yew Tree estate with Ashton-under-Lyne, taking in Thorncliffe Avenue and the whole length of Armadale Road. Their journeys were operated with silver Talbot minibuses with a green band below the window.
With spring and Easter celebrations symbolised by new life, GM Buses were no exception to that rule. New F-reg Leyland Olympians reached Tameside with the 346 being no exception to the rule. The summer of this year saw new Wayfarer II ticket machines replacing their ever-dependable Almex ones. Another more noticeable change affecting GM Buses was their livery. The regional identifiers above the entrance were ditched, as was the brown skirt. The orange part of the livery ran to the bottom of each bus with the top deck window area remaining white.
Whereas things were on the up for GM Buses, the same couldn’t have been said of The Bee Line Buzz Company. The company was taken over by Ribble, which in turn was sold to Stagecoach in March 1989. Like a hot potato, Stagecoach dropped Bee Line and sold it to Drawlane. With indecent ease, the revolutionary bread vans were eschewed in favour of NBC cast-offs. Even so, operations were maintained, but the unique selling point had gone.
The start of a new decade would see further changes affect Dukinfield’s bus network, this time with independent companies making inroads.
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Independent companies and increased independence started to play a more dominant role as a left-leaning autie bus user. Firstly, I hit a milestone where I was trusted enough to catch the bus on my own, with my sister, en route to seeing my Auntie. Instead of the 424, we opted for the 400/409/410 routes owing its superior frequency.
To Grandma’s house, we still boarded the 419 up to Chadderton. This time, the big buses had disappeared. GM Buses took over the service from Citibus with Little Gem minibuses the norm. Though able to go to my auntie’s house on my own (well, with my sister as well, of course), it was some time before I was able to hop on and off buses of my own volition.
Most memorable journeys of 1989:
- A Ewing School trip to the Fairfield Moravian Settlement aboard a 169 from Lapwing Lane on a GMT Standard;
- A bog standard journey on Pine Coaches’ then new P1 service;
- A sweaty Little Gem July journey on the 419.
Part Five follows tomorrow.
S.V., 04 October 2011.