My Life in the Company of Buses: Dukinfield and Bus Deregulation: Part 6, 1991

A purple patch for Pennine Blue as GM Buses contract

My first year at All Saints ended successfully with the shock announcement of being given the Form Merit award at speech night. On the buses, it was more or less business as usual for me, only with the added joys of blue and cream Bristol REs as well as orange Leyland Olympians.

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Pennine Blue stepped up a few gears on the 346 route. As well as offering two buses per hour in the daytime, they were also a must for Atlantean weary enthusiasts. Bristol REs formed most part of the fleet. By the following year, Bristol VRTs and Daimler Fleetlines would feature.

Independents would continue to dominate Dukinfield’s bus scene. Pine Coaches extended their P1 service to Oldham. Instead of following the 409 route in its entirety, it would reach Oldham via Crowhill, then Waterloo, before continuing along the A627 with the 400, 409, 410 et al. The Oldham Road/Ashton Road corridor was almost like Wilmslow Road with Stotts’ 398, Citibus’ 428 and Mayne’s 424 routes operating throughout the daytime. That was in addition to GM Buses’ 400, 409 and 410. Bee Line and Pennine Blue also fancied a piece of the action with competing 409 journeys operated.

After losing the Sunday service to Citibus the previous year, GM Buses’ Monday to Saturday evening journeys on the 343 route went to a new company: Tame Valley Motor Services. As with Citibus, Park Royal bodied GMT Standard Atlanteans also featured. Their success would lead to a long association with the 343 route and Messrs Whyatt and Hampson in later years. One which continues in 2011 with SpeedwellBus.

1991 was a harbinger of what Dukinfield passengers would expect to receive in subsequent years. Apart from a few exceptions, secondhand buses or older vehicles would become the norm. The end of 1991 also saw the closure of Tameside Garage. Opening in 1977, it was Greater Manchester Transport’s first purpose built bus garage. Waste oil was used for the heating system. Tameside’s GM Buses’ routes would be served by Oldham and Hyde Road depots.

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Memorable bus journey of 1991:

  • October 1991 saw me board Pine Coaches’ new Dukinfield to Oldham service. With the 409 most boring and the 343 being a fair wait, Dad and I boarded the white minibus up to Oldham town centre. We returned home on the 343 from H Stand of Town Square bus station with a Commodore 64 (from Argos), after a brew at The Country Larder (as any self-respecting Oldhamer or assimilated Oldhamer of the late 1980s to early 1990s would do).

Part Seven follows tomorrow.

S.V., 06 October 2011.

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