The Second of East of the M60’s Seven Bus Route Wonders of the Greater Manchester area
In Greater Manchester’s transport folklore, few bus routes are as iconic as the 53. There was even a maxim held by Manchester Corporation which stated that ‘if it worked on the 53, it would work anywhere’. This was true during the route’s heyday in the 1950s, long after its conversion from tram route.
The original 53 route ran from Cheetham to Old Trafford, via Belle Vue, Rusholme and Brooks’ Bar. It was a well used route, serving workers and leisure passengers. In recent years, it has been extended from Old Trafford to Pendleton [Salford Shopping City] and rerouted away in Moss Side and Collyhurst. Today, its northern terminus is now Cheetham Hill instead of Cheetham, opposite the Queens Road bus depot, and it also serves Harpurhey.
Throughout the late 1940s to early 1950s, it was a popular route for workers at the Bradford Colliery, Crossley’s works in Higher Openshaw and at Trafford Park industrial estate (some journeys were extended to serve the industrial estate). For football fans, it connected Old Trafford with Maine Road (today it connects with the Etihad Stadium). It was a popular bus route for Mancunians visiting Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, its speedway stadium, greyhound track, and amusement park. Even in the mid 1970s, it operated every four minutes during Monday to Saturday daytimes.
Recent deindustrialisation and social changes have resulted in a sharp reduction of its frequency. By 1986, it was every 10 minutes; every 15 minutes in 1998 with an extension to The Trafford Centre. Today, it is half that, with its more modest modern day role as an important link with north and east Manchester.
Throughout most of its life, the 53 has had one operator. Its present day successor to Manchester Corporation is First Greater Manchester.
Basic Frequency: half hourly before 1900 hours then hourly after 1900, seven days a week.
- Football: The 53 is in the proud position of being convenient for Manchester City and Manchester United fans alike. Besides the spectacle of Barclays Premier League Football, both teams have their own visitor centres.
- Fast Cars and Faster Dogs: Belle Vue Greyhound Stadium is a short walk for lovers of greyhound racing, speedway and stock cars.
- Shopping: Local shopping facilities at Cheetham Hill, Harpurhey, Longsight and Salford Shopping City are well linked with the 53.
- Curry Galore: the 53 is also handy for the Curry Mile in Rusholme.
- Parks and Fine Art: visit Platt Fields or Whitworth Parks along the 53 route. Why not call in the Costume Museum or the Whitworth Art Gallery whilst you are there?
- Live Performance: the Contact Theatre and The Academy are both a short walk away on Oxford Road.
Best Value Fares: Though I heartily recommend System One’s Any Bus DaySaver at £5.00 (or £5.60 before 0930 on weekdays), First Greater Manchester’s FirstDay ticket at £4.00 is another good offer. This is especially true if your journey begins in Cheetham Hill or Pendleton. Otherwise, go for System One’s ticket if you prefer flexibility.
Travel Tips: journey times may affected by football or concert traffic, particularly between Hyde Road and Oldham Road along Gorton,Beswick, Bradford and Miles Platting. Please keep this in mind before travelling.
S.V., 30 April 2013