Throw those displays wide, one year like this would…
In 2011, East of the M60‘s 26 part series, My Life in the Company of Buses finished at (quelle surprise) 2011. The original series of posts were written to document the first 25 years of bus deregulation. Both on a personal level and in relation to the bus scene in Dukinfield.
With 2016 marking the 30th anniversary of bus deregulation, East of the M60 thought it was the done thing to bring the saga to 2016. A lot has happened in the five years since October 2011. Not always for the better.
A week after I completed the original saga, I was on one of these Workfare type jobbies. In 2011, getting more than two weeks free labour out of you was (and remains) unethical. Being on the same placement six months later with no job at the end, unforgivable. Had East of the M60 met its maker in 2012, this fellow may have followed suit and become a ‘success’ in the eyes of the then Home Secretary.
Instead, I am here to start the next parts of My Life in the Company of Buses. Sit back, relax, and take the next bus to 2012.
Part 27: 2012
For me, 2012 was a year of two halves. I began the year at a stultifying work placement that would last six months (though no job at the end). My moment of freedom came on the 04 May when I was able to start afresh, albeit on JSA. With yours truly still skint, and paying the best part of six days Unemployment Benefit on a monthly System One Buscard.
The second half of 2012 saw me gainfully employed – in Oldham, after (you’ve guessed it) another stint on IDS’s job seeking treadmill. Thankfully, my Work Choices training programme provider was a vast improvement on the previous one. As a consequence, my bus interest radar shifted to having GCSE level knowledge of First Manchester’s Oldham operations. Plus Bluebird, JPT Travel, Stott’s of Oldham, and (for the first two weeks of 2012), SpeedwellBus.
This blog kept me sane throughout 2012. More time was devoted to EM60 with greater use of social media and photography.
* * *
In relation to bus operations in Dukinfield, the biggest event affecting the town’s passengers was the demise of SpeedwellBus on the 18 January 2012. After a torrid 2011, the Hyde-based operator ran its last services at 6.30pm. In Dukinfield, this affected the 41 and 343 services. On TfGM emergency tenders, they were taken over by First Manchester. The 343’s daytime journeys (on weekdays) were taken over by Stott’s of Oldham in Spring 2012.
SpeedwellBus had its roots in Tame Valley Motor Services, and Glossopdale Bus Company (whom in 1994 and 1996 respectively, operated evening journeys on the 343).
The first part of 2012 was pretty eventful for FirstGroup. February saw the introduction of its new Olympia livery – so called owing to the London 2012 Olympic Games and its operations. The Olympia livery would be seen on the 409 route, firstly on Oldham’s Volvo B9s, then on nearly new Enviro400 from the London games. In FirstGroup land. Dukinfield garage would see the arrival of Volvo B9TLs, seen initially on the 348 and 350 routes.
The summer of 2012 saw a boost for the 346 route. Stagecoach Manchester’s previous half hourly frequency was upgraded to every 20 minutes. The 236/237 services (which the 346 have hitherto co-worked with) were similarly treated, but the Manchester link was severed on all journeys apart from the Saturday Night/Sunday Morning Night Bus.
All three services retain their 20 minute frequency to date (though their 346 was extended to Tameside Hospital and cut to half hourly at one point). Whereas today’s 41 service to Tennyson Avenue is once hourly (more on that story later), 2012 saw an upgrade for the half hourly service. As well as electric hybrid Solo SR minibuses, the 41 absorbed the 337 service, resulting in an extension to Crowhill. The Solo SRs were also seen on the 419 to Middleton.
In the second half of 2012, trams and trains set the news agenda rather than buses. Dukinfielders catching the train from Stalybridge began to benefit from a remodelled platform layout, improved toilets, and lifts. Furthermore, Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar changed hands following the death of John Wellesley Hesketh, who helped to save it from closure. Beerhouses Ltd (who owns the West Riding Refreshment Rooms in Dewsbury) took over and remain their present owners.
Oldham received a Christmas present, in the form of new-fangled light rail transport. December saw the Metrolink’s arrival from Shaw to Victoria along the Oldham-Rochdale Loop Line. Autumn 2013 would see Dukinfield’s travelling public giving the trams a whirl from Ashton.
* * *
My Most Memorable Bus Journeys of 2012:
- Oldham to Royton on the 409 – an autumn journey for the sole purpose of visiting Tandle Hill Country Park;
- Oldham to Dukinfield on the 343 – an October journey on my way back from a work placement where I arranged a job interview over a lengthy ‘phone call. Thankfully, there was hardly anyone aboard the Volvo B7RLE single decker at the time.
Next in My Life in the Company of Buses…
Tomorrow’s instalment takes us to 2013, a year that was dominated by trams with the arrival of Metrolink services in Droylsden and Ashton-under-Lyne.
S.V., 27 October 2016.