East of the M60 on another lost bus route
Today, a trip to Weatherfield is a tram ride away to MediaCityUK, or a X50 or 250 from Piccadilly Gardens. In recent times the production lot for Coronation Street, along with the ITV contractor formerly known as Granada Television, has moved to the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal.
At one time, you could walk across the cobbles of Coronation Street. From 1988 to 1999, it was possible thanks to the Granada Studios Tour (also covered elsewhere on this blog). In its early days, there was a dedicated bus route operated by GM Buses.
By telephoning Charles Street depot, wannabe passengers could book tickets for the GM Buses TV Special, and save on the admission fee. According to the coving advertisements, it promised passengers the joys of a pint in the Rovers’ Return or breakfast in an American style diner.
Though passengers could board their usual Manchester bound buses and a 32 to Quay Street on their SaverSevens or Busabouts, GM Buses’ more convenient way had the joy of through ticketing with the Baker Street tram to Checkpoint Charlie. The GM Buses TV Special was available from South Manchester, Tameside, Stockport, Glossop and Wythenshawe. Slightly off the Greater Manchester boundary, it also served Macclesfield, Knutsford and Warrington.
In the autumn of 1988, passengers could pay £7.00 for a combined Busabout ticket on the GM Buses TV Special, which also permitted admission to the Granada Studios Tour. For children aged 5 – 11, £5.00. This differed from the usual GMPTE concession rates as they were more in line with the Granada Studios Tour’s rates.
The Weatherfield Wayfarer
In Coronation Street, references to catching the bus had appeared in Corrie scripts since the start. On a negative note, a bus was party to the death of Ida Barlow in 1961. Also in the same year, Ena Sharples was left behind by mistake on the return leg of a Blackpool Illuminations trip. (Yes, I know she could have caught the X60 to Lower Mosley Street).
Since the mid-1990s, Weatherfield gained its own operator, the Weatherfield Wayfarer. Before then, one of GM Buses’ Little Gem minibuses would be seen on camera. In 2001, one of Dennis’ Coaches’ Mercedes Benz minibuses appeared. For the last decade, Stagecoach Manchester’s Alexander Sprint bodied Mercedes Benz 709D assumed the guise. Today, it is lovingly cared for at their Ashton-under-Lyne depot and used on staff shuttles.
Even so, you would have thought the fictitious Weatherfield would have had some double decker buses. Or even competition between operators. Weatherfield, if real, would be First Greater Manchester territory.
Over to you
Did you drive, or board one of the GM Buses TV Special services? Feel free to comment. We would particularly welcome any comments on the service’s history – or even references on GM Buses’ and successors’ vehicles on-screen.
S.V., 29 October 2013.