The Fourth of East of the M60’s Seven Bus Route Wonders of the Greater Manchester area

For our fourth route, is Manchester’s most direct bus connection with Bolton. Prior to setting up home in Mottram-in-Longdendale in 1948, this was L.S. Lowry’s usual bus, which he caught from Pendlebury.

Brief History:

The 8 started life as an express route from Albert Square to Hyde on the 07 November 1927. On the 02 January 1928, it became one of Manchester Corporation’s cross-city express routes and operated from Bolton to Hyde. It was jointly operated by Manchester, Bolton and Salford Corporations, Lancashire United Transport, and the SHMD Joint Board and operated every 15 minutes along its 18.3 miles.

On the 01 February 1933, the route was split at Manchester, with the Hyde – Manchester section forming part of Manchester Corporation’s and SHMD’s express service to Glossop (the 125). Today’s post-1933 version of the 8 service wends its way along a virtually unchanged route. The only differences have been changes to Broad Street, Pendleton, and a change of Manchester terminus to Shudehill Interchange.  By contrast, the 125 have long since disappeared, as well as Glossop’s direct bus link with Manchester (journeys require changing at Stalybridge [Armentieres Square] or Ashton-under-Lyne).

Today, even with rail competition, it remains a popular route, linking Pendlebury and Kearsley with Manchester and Bolton. It also has a Friday night/Saturday morning and Saturday night/Sunday morning night service.


First Greater Manchester is the sole operator of the 8 route.

Basic Frequency: every 10 minutes.


  • Local History and Art: The Salford Art Gallery and Lark Hill Place museum is well worth a visit. Prior to The Lowry Centre’s opening, this was where most of L.S. Lowry’s famed works were exhibited. The Pumphouse Peoples’ History Museum on Bridge Street is a must for anyone interested in the struggles of working class people. The Bolton Art Gallery and Museum is close to Moor Lane Bus Station.
  • Real Ale: Along the 8 route is The Crescent, close to Salford Art Gallery and Museum. Also nearby is The Oxford in Salford City Centre (Chapel Street), which is a short walk from the Mark Addy on the banks of the River Irwell. Bolton is not without its real ale pubs, with Ye Olde Man and Scythe and the Hen and Chickens worthy of your attention.
  • Shopping: Bolton’s wealth of shops and its excellent indoor and outdoor markets are worth catching an 8 for. Salford Shopping City, and the nearby TESCO Extra store in Pendleton is also served en route.
  • Fish: As well as having a good selection of fish and chip restaurants, Bolton also has an aquarium in the basement of its art gallery.
  • Pies and Pasties: Along with Wiganers, Boltonians love their pies. Greenhalgh’s also have a wealth of shops throughout Bolton (and, more recently, numerous parts of Greater Manchester and Central Lancashire). The pies de resistance in Bolton town centre could well belong to Carr’s Pasties. Their half moon shaped pasties – especially their cheese and onion ones – are moreish.
  • Live Performance: The Lowry Centre is another bus away from the 8 route, by means of Stagecoach Manchester’s recently extended 50 route. Close to Moor Lane Bus Station on Howell Croft is the Bolton Octagon Theatre. On Le Mans Crescent, the Albert Halls (part of Bolton’s majestic town hall) has live performances.

Best Value Fares: First Greater Manchester’s £4.00 FirstDay ticket is a good purchase, given the amount of routes they have in Salford and Bolton. If you wish to venture further, or use other operators’ buses (i.e., have an inclination to try the more scenic route to Bury), try System One’s Any Bus DaySaver at £5.00 (or £5.60 before 0930 on weekdays).

Travel Tips: To avoid the worst excesses of the traffic on Deansgate (if you’re boarding from Manchester), try to catch your 8 bus on Bridge Street. Sometimes, the journey from Shudehill Interchange to the Mark Addy is almost walking pace.

S.V., 02 May 2013.

3 thoughts on “Bus Route Wonders of Greater Manchester #4: 8, Manchester – Pendlebury – Bolton

  1. One place not to forget is the cheap and cheerful cafe on the center isle in Bolton Bus Station, decent pies and sandwiches for a fraction of the price you would probably pay elsewhere, and the owners have had it for years, infact I go in there occasionally these days but when I was younger I was there virtually every Saturday for Pie,Chips and Gravy for all just over £2 and its still the same today


  2. Hi Andrew,

    I’ve yet to have that joy, in spite of the many times I’ve been to Bolton Moor Lane Bus Station. The lure of Carr’s pasties were often a counter attraction for me. (Best go before they move to the new interchange by Trinity Street station). 🙂

    Bye for now,



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