Checkmate Coaches’ rambling and elusive circular route
Taking a trip from Lees to the Royal Oldham Hospital often means two buses. The passenger would have to board a 180, 184 or 343 to Oldham, then a 408, 409 or 428 to the Royal Oldham Hospital.
More discerning or patient passengers may prefer to board Checkmate Coaches’ 418 route, which does the same trip in one go (so long as. It is also the only bus route to serve Cooper Street, between Austerlands and Springhead, the bottom part of Shaw Road and Cornish Way. In Springhead it also takes in St. John Street, where it follows First Greater Manchester’s 81A route.
There are only five journeys along the full route, with a sixth part route working from Oldham bus station (departing at 0945). It takes 57 minutes to complete the full route which calls at the Royal Oldham Hospital at 24 minutes past and 23 minutes to the hours (first departures at 1024 and 1037). The 418 also provides a link with Dr. Kershaw’s Hospice calling at 27 minutes to the hour.
After calling at Royal Oldham Hospital twice, it returns to Oldham bus station (quarter to the hour) before continuing to Lees. It follows the 180/184/343 routes up to Springhead before turning left onto Cooper Street and Heywood Lane. It follows the 350 for a short while prior to reaching St. John Street. From there it follows the 81A to Lees Road and return to Oldham.
The first journey, along the part route leaves Oldham bus station at 0945, with the first of the full route leaving at 1020. Lees’ first 418 arrives at 0956. Last journeys depart from Oldham bus station at 1420, returning by 1445 via Heyside and 1517 after Lees. It is last seen in Lees at 1506.
The 418 is geared towards residents using the route as a shoppers’ service or for hospital appointments. Therefore, any journeys during the morning and evening peaks would mean a walk to St. John Street, Lees Road or Huddersfield Road for one of First Greater Manchester’s routes (or the 343). There is no Sunday and Bank Holiday service.
The 418 has remained unchanged since the 13 December 2010. It has previously served Chadderton, and at one time served the forecourt of Royal Oldham Hospital.
There have been few predecessors in its complete or near complete form. In 1974, St. John Street was served by the 429 from Hollinwood. This was originally Oldham Corporation’s second version of the O route. Another version terminated at Lees, County End. They became the 29 and 28 routes.
In 1981, a new 428 service was introduced. Both the 428 and 429 ran along a circular section from Oldham via Greenacres, Waterhead, Springhead, Lees and Roundthorn. By deregulation, both the 428 and 429 routes were withdrawn.
As a result, the 343 was diverted via Greenacres and Springhead. By 1990, Cooper Street would be served – for the first time – by the 397, the Lees Local Service operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach. There was also two circular services operated by Stotts of Oldham, the 416 and 417, which took a slightly similar route to the withdrawn 428 and 429 services.
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Next Time on The Road Least Travelled…
We shall be travelling much further than Oldham for our next routes. All will be revealed…
S.V., 14 July 2013.