A look at Oldham’s bus stations and stops past and present
In the last century, Oldham has had a number of termini and through stops, some of which discontinued by means of town centre redevelopment. Most recently, this has meant the Metrolink works. During the last forty years, the town’s main bus station has shifted westwards from Mumps Bridge to Cheapside.
1. King Street/Co-op:
For the last century, King Street has been Oldham’s main thoroughfare for northbound and southbound bus routes. Today it still sees regular use with the 76, 180, 184, 409 and 425 routes among a few. Between the 1900s and late 1990s, it was a popular stop for passengers visiting the Co-op stores. From 1977, this included the modern Shopping Giant superstore (till 1999) and King’s Hall Shopping Centre. Today, it is a popular stop among bingo players and Oldham Sixth Form College students.
2. The Star Inn:
Oldham’s first main terminus was outside The Star Inn. Since 1902, it was a popular through stop and terminus for its trams. It was ideal for the Grand Theatre which opened in 1908.
3. Manchester Chambers:
Following the start of bus deregulation, additional space was required for the multiplicity of operators which would have clogged the busy George Street stop and Town Square Bus Station. In front of Manchester Chambers, a turning circle was created. Future years would see the facility further developed with shelters and stands. It would form part of the…
4. Oldham Central and West Street Bus Stations:
GMPTE’s bus station on Cheapside was mooted as a direct replacement for the Town Square Bus Station built in 1981. Twenty years on, the futuristic structure was airier and lighter than its predecessor on Clegg Street. Shortly after, automatic doors were added – a must for the cold OThe only problem was it felt as if half the job was done as the turning circle and its more rudimentary shelters on Manchester Chambers and West Street remained. This was addressed in 2006 when a more permanent structure opened inside the turning circle. Its TfGM Travelshop straddles between the bus stations, as an extension to Oldham Civic Centre.
5. High Street:
Prior to pedestrianisation and the opening of Spindles Shopping Centre, bus stops nearest to the entrance of Hilton Arcade and Town Square Shopping Centre were regularly used by westbound and eastbound services. Following pedestrianisation, buses which hitherto used the High Street section up to Lord Street were rerouted onto St. Mary’s Way.
6. George Street:
More so after the opening of St. Peter’s Shopping Precinct, George Street was a busy thoroughfare, and a terminus for the 8 service to Stalybridge. On northbound/southbound services such as the 409, southbound journeys would use George Street whereas northbound journeys would take King Street. The demolition of St. Peter’s Shopping Precinct and opening of Spindles Shopping Centre would see the cessation of facilities on George Street. As a consequence, services would be rerouted via King Street.
7. Town Square Bus Station:
Opened in 1981 to serve the then new Town Square Shopping Centre, GMPTE’s eight stand bus station incorporated SaverSales and Information offices and public toilets. The shelters were built to a standard design by Essex, Suggitt and Goodman which was repeated at most 1980s GMPTE bus stations. A control tower was placed by the second shelter nearest to the old town hall. The stands nearest to the shopping centre were dingy, even on the brightest of days.
Following the construction of Oldham Central and West Street bus stations, the 1981 bus station was demolished and replaced by extra car parking space. Buses still call today, though today’s shelters are standard issue cantilever ones.
8. Town Hall:
Prior to 1981, the town hall was a through stop for westbound and eastbound buses. It was also the terminus of the E/16/416 routes to Mossley (Brookbottom). Shelters were placed on Clegg Street, facing Union Street. Directly opposite and under cover was…
9. North Western Road Car Company’s Clegg Street Bus Station and Depot:
Opened in 1967, North Western Road Car Company’s bus station combined depot and bus station offered covered accommodation for regular users of its long distance bus and coach services. Though the facility offered real improvements over on-street stands, it had a very short operational life, closing in 1973. By then, the North Western Road Car Company – as part of the National Bus Company – was much reduced in size with bus services inside the SELNEC PTE boundary under SELNEC’s jurisdiction. Buses hitherto at Clegg Street would move to Wallshaw Street. Former coach operations became part of National Travel West, who moved to the…
10. Yelloway Coach Station, Mumps Bridge:
The Yelloway Coach Station opened in 1926 and saw continuous use till 1989. It was the sole preserve of Yelloway’s services till 1973, the year when National Bus Company’s long distance services (and, from 1978, National Express coaches) moved from NWRCC’s Clegg Street Bus Station. Access was gained through the booking office at Mumps Bridge with coaches and dual purpose buses pulling in and reversing out. Its original purpose ceased in 1989, following the original Yelloway company’s acquisition by Carlton PSV and subsequent sale to Crosville. Under the latter’s tutelage, it became a depot for the Bee Line Buzz Company.
Today, the booking office is empty, after being a charity shop. Buses no longer call on the forecourt; its present use is now a private pay and display car park. National Express coaches moved to Town Square Bus Station. They moved to Oldham Central Bus Station in 2001 where they still call today.
11. Mumps Bridge Bus Station:
Mumps Bridge bus station came about after the opening of Oldham Corporation Transport Department’s Wallshaw Street garage in 1938. It was in two parts with westbound stands on the southern side of Mumps, and its eastbound stands on Wallshaw Place. The latter was known by locals and OCTD staff as The Grotto, offering a dingy ambience on the side of Salford’s Greengate station. The mid 1980s saw demolition of part of the depot for extra staff parking space and offices, making for a lighter ambience.
Remodelling of the Mumps area for Metrolink works has necessitated the closure of Mumps Bridge bus station with crew changes taking place on Yorkshire Street or Union Street. By 2014, bus stands will return to Mumps Bridge, allowing seamless transfer from local buses onto trams.
…And What Could Have Been…
Along with the 1945 City of Manchester Plan, Oldham had an equally ambitious plan three years later. Part of which included the Oldham Way bypass and its technical college, the only two parts of the plan which went to fruition. Among the plans included a new bus station and depot replacing facilities on Wallshaw Street. Its site would have been Clegg Street – the site which the North Western Road Car Company would use in 1967. It would have been ideal for Oldham Central and Clegg Street railway stations and could have formed the basis of a future bus/rail/tram interchange.
The site would have stretched from Clegg Street to Hobson Street, up to where the Buck and Union is today and on the site of Sainsburys, TK Maxx and The Castle public house.
Before I go…
Feel free to comment on the eleven stops and termini. If you have any memories of boarding the 10 from High Street or the 408 from St. Peter’s Shopping Precinct, feel free to share them.
S.V., 15 November 2012.