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.

*                             *                             *

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.

9 thoughts on “The Road Least Travelled: Oldham to Lees via Royal Oldham Hospital

  1. There seems to be a lot of Checkmate on The Road Least Travelled! There is one other Checkmate route yet to be mentioned, one even rarer than all the routes mentioned yet. I trust it’s all in good time.. 🙂


    1. Hi Mark,

      If you’re referring to the C20, there is reference to it on my entry about the 220 route. As it co-works with Checkmate Coaches’ 220 journeys, I thought it would have made editorial sense to include the C20 with the 220 entry. 🙂

      Bye for now,



      1. Nope, not the C20, but one heading in a Marple direction (I have just realised, this one’s actually not the rarest in terms of journeys operated, but in terms of days of operation it is lol)… 😉


      2. Hi Mark,

        I’ve got it! That will be the thrice weekly 304 from Hyde to Marple via Gee Cross, Romiley and Marple, most of which along the withdrawn Gee Cross – Marple section of the 389 route.

        I’ve caught it once on a Saturday (1250 journey from Hyde bus station) – and on Christmas Eve at that (which is about 50,000 points in the ‘ISpy’ book)! It was one of a number of routes funded by Labour’s defunct Rural Bus Initiative, and one of a few which has survived after that.

        Bye for now,



  2. You’ve missed out a service the 183 Limeside- Royal Oldham Hospital also goes to the hospital via Oldham Bus Station, it starts at Lime Green Road, goes up Elm Road, up Chamber Road and into Oldham Bus Station, and then goes down Rochdale Road to Royal Oldham Hospital.

    It was originally run by First Manchester as Limeside-Grotton, but then reduced to Oldham-Limeside. It used to be run by cascaded K-reg Leyland Olympians and then R-reg Dennis Darts. The route is now run by Stagecoach Manchester from the Ashton depot, using a MAN 18.220 because it goes off on a school route to Waterhead.

    At weekends it is usually run by an 11-reg 10.8M Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart, as the MAN only seems to be used because of the capacity needed for the school bus. The usual bus on the route is Stagecoach Manchester MX53 FNC 22056 MAN 18.220


    1. Hi Aaron,

      A good suggestion for a future ‘The Road Least Travelled’. Though it has more than five return journeys, it fulfils the criteria for this series. My reason for this, is that it was hitherto a more frequent route.

      Before it was much curtailed to its present form, the 183 was another Saddleworth route complementing the 184. This changed when partially replaced by an extended 350 route (which replaced the withdrawn 355 route) in late October 2004.

      Bye for now,



      1. Nowadays it is mainly used for older people who so to speak “live on the wrong side of the tracks’ within Limeside and for hospital appointments, but the use of a full size bus is wasted as most of the time there is only around 3 passengers and I know that as I regularly travel on it, but you’ve got to give some credit to Stagecoach Management as there is only two drivers who do the route.


      2. Hi Aaron,

        Seconded! I would say that the extension to Royal Oldham Hospital is a most useful one, and one which could be used by Megarider wielding passengers who often catch the 76 ‘up town’.




      3. Very true as currently Stagecoach Manchester have a bottleneck on Limeside, possessing the 76, 78, and 183; but a problem could occur for some passengers who live on the Chamber Road segment of the 78 and 183 as they have lost the sunday contract on the 78 to JPT, so the 78 is going from one Middleton Independent, the former Bluebird, to another, do you have an idea of what they will use on the new route?


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