The threads left behind by Manchester’s lost bus links with Barnsley and Sheffield

The 04 January 2020 will soon be a significant anniversary date in trans-Pennine transport history. That date will be the 50th anniversary of the cessation of passenger services along the Woodhead line. Had the Woodhead line stayed open today, the all-electric route between Hadfield and Sheffield could have been useful to First Transpennine Express and East Midlands Trains. Not only as a diversionary route but also a viable alternative to the Hope Valley line.

Today, crossing the southern part of the Pennines via Longdendale or Holmfirth on public transport is virtually impossible. There are irregular services between Holmfirth and Greenfield; along the Woodhead pass, two return journeys on National Express’ 350 route. Some continue to Liverpool or Stansted Airport. You wonder why it’s hard to get a seat on any Manchester to Sheffield train, even with a sedate 50 minute journey time at best!

Before bus deregulation, you could get a ‘bog-standard’ service bus from Manchester to Sheffield. In the early 1930s, the London Midland and Scottish Railway ran a bus service from Manchester [Exchange] Station to Sheffield [Midland] station via Stalybridge and Stocksbridge.

This blog post looks at the LMS bus route into Sheffield and a few others that are detailed by our map. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

The threads of Manchester’s missing South Yorkshire bus routes. Only the X50 remains in operation in the above map.

All Aboard the Holmfirth Express, 16 May 1929

A year before the inauguration of the Holmfirth Express, an obscure little company called Barnsley and District was formed. By December 1928, they changed their name to Yorkshire Traction. In partnership with the North Western Road Car Company, they launched the 12 and 16 routes – known as the Holmfirth Express. Buses ran every hour from Manchester [Lower Mosley Street omnibus station] to Barnsley [Eldon Street]. Operations began on the 16 May 1929.

Buses via Holmfirth were numbered 12, whereas buses via Penistone were numbered 16. Each service ran every two hours though combined to make an hourly frequency from Manchester to Barnsley. In later years they became the 19 and 20 routes respectively. There was a short lived extension to Doncaster which was restored by the 1970s.

Exchange Station, Manchester, some time in 1930

Back in the early 1930s, The Big Four post-Grouping railway companies had struggled to compete with trams and buses along their routes. Some of the four saw another use for omnibus services: as conveyors to and from their railway stations. Some offered a useful link from far flung areas.

In Manchester, the London Midland and Scottish Railway went into partnership with Sheffield Corporation’s omnibus and tram undertakings. Linking the two cities was their 48 route. Its Manchester terminus was the forecourt of Exchange railway station before reaching Sheffield Midland station via Manchester Victoria’s station approach, Ashton-under-Lyne then Stalybridge and Stocksbridge along the Woodhead pass.

Later on, on one occasion, a Sheffield bound 48 crashed into a post of Manchester Victoria station’s forecourt canopy. The canopy, known as a porte cochere was placed over the main pedestrian entrance near the booking office. It was never replaced.

The 48 wasn’t the only route where LMSR entered into partnership with Sheffield Corporation’s transport department. A number of other routes followed suit and this continued until 1970 with British Rail. This partnership was known as the Sheffield Joint Omnibus Committee, and one of four JOCs in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Sheffield JOC’s bus fleet was divided into three categories: ‘A’ buses were wholly owned by Sheffield Corporation with ‘B’ buses part owned between Sheffield Corporation and British Railways. ‘C’ buses were wholly owned by British Railways. ‘C’ buses were used on the longest routes with creature comforts akin to dual purpose coaches or local trains.

Lower Mosley Street omnibus station, Manchester, 1953

With the end of the Second World War still fresh in the memory of most people, our need to escape the doom and gloom was greater than ever. The end of this decade would see purchases on the ‘never never’ of household goods and cars.

In 1953, public transport was still king. A trip to Blackpool from Manchester meant queueing round the block at Lower Mosley Street coach station. The X60 service ran at frequencies akin to today’s 192 service from Piccadilly Gardens to Hazel Grove. Every 3 to 5 minutes – with duplicate buses hired from private and publicly owned operators as well as Ribble Motor Services’ and NWRCC’s own vehicles.

With the opening of the Peak National Park in 1951, buses and trains dispersed hikers from Manchester and Sheffield towards the Peak District. Our 19, 20, and 48 routes played a major part in this story. From 1950, other services included:

  • 39: Manchester – Denton – Hyde – Glossop – Sheffield (via the Snake Pass): summer only service, jointly operated by Sheffield Joint Omnibus Committee and North Western Road Car Company.
  • 72: Sheffield – Castleton – Manchester (via Mam Tor, Hazel Grove and Stockport): a summertime extension of the 72 service between Sheffield and Castleton.

From 1939, the 19, 20 and 48 routes were suspended due to the Second World War.

Unlike the 39, the 72 service between Sheffield and Castleton is still in operation. It is today’s 272 service, operated in conjunction with the 271 service by First South Yorkshire and Hulleys of Baslow.

National Bus Company formation, 01 January 1969

Whoever said the North Western Road Car Company was killed off by an Act of Parliament was spot on. The 1968 Transport Act, granted Royal Assent on the 25 October that year, saw the formation of Passenger Transport Executives and the National Bus Company. The already government-owned Transport Holding Company merged with the private sector operations of British Electric Traction to form NBC.

North Western was one of BET’s operations, and a much-loved one by those who could claim to have boarded a 90 to Marple or the X60 to Blackpool. In the run-up to its reorganisation and its aftermath, changes were made to its joint services and coaching operations. This had ramifications for Manchester’s trans-Pennine bus routes.

By the end of 1966, both NWRCC/Sheffield Corporation seasonal journeys of the 39 and 72 routes were withdrawn. The loss of the 39 via the Snake Pass denied carless Dentonians and Hydonians their summertime link with Sheffield. The 72 was curtailed to operate between Sheffield and Castleton. Therefore, the 48 via Woodhead was Manchester’s sole stage carriage route to the Steel City.

In 1970, the Sheffield Joint Omnibus Committee disbanded. The longer ‘C’ routes (whose fleet were owned by British Rail) transferred to National Bus Company ownership. Sheffield JOC became Sheffield Transport before joining South Yorkshire PTE’s bus operations on the 01 April 1974. Four days after its disbandment, passenger services along the Woodhead line (to Sheffield Victoria) ceased.

Service changes and cutbacks, 03 January 1971

By 1971, the 48, 19 and 20 routes (as X48, X19 and X20 respectively) saw a change of operator. With today’s operations, a bus route could change operators within four months as well as four decades. In 1971, reorganisation by National Bus Company facilitated these changes.

The 03 January 1971 saw the absorption of North Western’s coaching operations by their Ribble Motor Services constituent. Therefore, the X48 was jointly operated between Sheffield Transport and Ribble Motor Services. Its Manchester terminus moved from Exchange station (which closed on the 06 May 1969) to Lower Mosley Street coach station. With the rationalisation of NWRCC services and its red and cream giving way to a ghostly white, the terminus was a shadow of its former self.

Worse was to befall regular passengers of the X19 and X20 services. Previously, the X20 whisked passengers via Penistone with its X19 sibling calling at Holmfirth. These services were withdrawn and replaced with a newly created X19 service which served Holmfirth and Penistone. This was a joint operation with Ribble Motor Services and Yorkshire Traction. In later years, its easterly terminus was moved to Doncaster North bus station.

The Pennine Rose Express, Barnsley bus station, 14 May 1973

In the next two years after its revision, the X19 from Manchester to Barnsley saw a few more changes. On a positive note, the new look X19 was given a fancy name: The Pennine Rose Express. In 1972, North Western’s stage carriage services within the SELNEC PTE area were taken over by SELNEC. For a brief period they came under the SELNEC Cheshire area. Services outside the boundary were taken over by Crosville Motor Services and Trent Motor Services.

By 1973, SELNEC’s federal structure (Northern, Central, Cheshire, and Southern) was discontinued in advance of its transition to Greater Manchester Transport.

For bus and coach enthusiasts, the 13 May 1973 was a black day. Lower Mosley Street coach station, which saw many a traveller head to Blackpool and beyond closed. Its last coach was a 2330 departure to another iconic coach station: London’s Victoria Coach Station. On the following day, its services transferred to Chorlton Street Coach Station. Which, despite its modernity, was seen as a retrograde step. Suffice to say, its cocktail of diesel fumes and fusty shelters underneath a multi storey car park wasn’t a good advert for bus and coach operation.

Decline of the X48 route, 1981

By the start of the 1980s, the X48 service clung on to dear life. Ribble Motor Services shared the route with South Yorkshire PTE. In 1980, the dark blue and white gave way to SYPTE’s coffee and cream. As stated in the Barnsley and Doncaster Bus and Rail Timetables book (SYPTE, September 1980), the X48 had two return journeys from Sunday to Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, three return journeys.

The service was limited stop between Tintwistle and Manchester, which followed GMT’s recently introduced 237 service up to Audenshaw [Ryecroft Hall]. After Tintwistle [Church Inn], its stops in Greater Manchester were as follows, prior to terminating at Chorlton Street Coach Station:

  • Hollingworth, Gun Inn;
  • Mottram-in-Longdendale, The Junction;
  • Matley, Waggon and Horses;
  • Stalybridge, Railway Station;
  • Ashton-under-Lyne, Bus Station;
  • Audenshaw, The Snipe Inn;
  • Fairfield, Ashton Old Road (near the former Post Office and Time Office);
  • Openshaw, Half Way House;
  • Higher Openshaw, Grey Mare Lane;
  • Manchester, London Road (near Fire Station).

The journey time was 1 hour 50 minutes. Which, even by 1980 standards was uncompetitive compared with the train. Back then, Sheffield-bound trains only traversed the Ashburys line via Marple, prior to reaching the Hope Valley line. The difference wasn’t as stark compared with today’s rail journey times.

The first journey left Manchester at 0830, arriving in Sheffield for 1020. This was followed by a second journey at 1730, arriving by 1920. At 1930, there was a third Fridays and Saturdays journey which arrived at Sheffield Central Bus Station for 2120. On Sundays, 1130 and 1930 (arriving at Sheffield for 1320 and 2120 respectively).

Westbound, the first journey departed at 1030 with a second journey at 1930 (both arriving in Manchester for 1220 and 2120). On Fridays and Saturdays, another journey left Sheffield at 1730, reaching Chorlton Street Coach Station by 1920. On Sundays, 0930 and 1730 (arriving in Manchester for 1120 and 1920).

On the 07 November 1980, Ribble Motor Services pulled out of the route, leaving SYPTE as its only operator. By February 1981, this was cut to two return journeys, seven days a week, leaving Sheffield at the same times as the previous year’s Sunday service. The journey time was cut from 1 hour 50 minutes to 1 hour 37 minutes; Manchester bound buses arrived at 1107 and 1907. Sheffield bound buses arrived at 1307 and 2107.

Journey time savings were made by cutting out more stops. It became a true limited stop route between Sheffield and Stocksbridge. Changes were made to the limited stop section west of Tintwistle. Only Tintwistle, Hollingworth, Ashton-under-Lyne and Grey Mare Lane retained its stopping points. Mottram, Matley, Stalybridge, Audenshaw, Fairfield and Openshaw lost their stops on the X48.

Even so, Stalybridge retained a South Yorkshire link thanks to Yorkshire Traction’s X19 service. For how long remained to be seen.

Decline and fall of the X19 service, 1980 – 81

In 1980, the X19 had part route journeys from Barnsley to Doncaster with buses every hour. Services left Doncaster North bus station at 25 minutes to the hour with return journeys arriving for one minute past the hour.

The journey time from Doncaster to Manchester was a staggering 2 hours 30 minutes. Or 1 hour 52 minutes from Barnsley. In 1980, the X19 was a limited stop service for most of its route, though buses could be flagged down at any stop between Greenfield and Holmfirth. From Saddleworth, its stops in Greater Manchester were as follows:

  • Greenfield, Clarence Hotel;
  • Mossley, Railway Station;
  • Stalybridge, Butchers’ Arms;
  • Ashton-under-Lyne, Bus Station;
  • Manchester, London Road;
  • Manchester, Chorlton Street Coach Station.


From Sunday to Friday, three return journeys with four return journeys on Saturdays detailed as follows:

  • From Doncaster North Bus Station: 0820, 0935 (SuO), 1035, 1335 (SuO), 1435 (SO), 1735 (arriving at 1050, 1205 (SuO), 1305, 1705 (SO), 2005);
  • From Manchester Chorlton Street Coach Station: 1130, 1230 (SuO), 1330, 1630 (SuO), 1730 (SO), 2030 (arriving at 1401, 1501 (SuO), 1601, 2001 (SO), 2301).

With further economies being made at local and central government level, the X19 service – formerly billed as The Holmfirth Express – was withdrawn on the 22 March 1981. Back then, both sides of the Pennines had been affected by the recession with the North of England at the sharp end. The M62 also had a great impact, and there were plans to extend the M67 to Sheffield. A move which some commentators might say affected British Rail’s plans to close the Woodhead line.

Taking advantage of the 1980 Transport Act, which deregulated express coach services was Baddeley Brothers. Shortly after the X19’s withdrawal, they launched the X20 Trans-Pennine Express. This was basically the X19 with a few tweaks. To avoid NBC’s access charges its Manchester terminus was Chorlton Street (which is used by Transdev’s express routes today). At Barnsley, the Court House car park, close to the former Barnsley Court House station building.

Sadly, the X20 service didn’t have the same appeal as British Rail’s Trans-Pennine services (nor its more immediate rival, the Ford Cortina). Baddeleys went into administration and ceased operations on the 26 June 1981. With the exception of seasonal extensions of Greater Manchester Transport’s routes, the Isle of Skye Road never saw an all-year round bus service. At least for another 34 years.

Before bus deregulation day, Mayne of Manchester considered the idea of relaunching the X19 route. Some coaches were allocated to the route with space made for suitable route branding. They also maintained that the popularity of Last of the Summer Wine would have ensured its success. In the end, Mayne of Manchester’s relaunch didn’t materialise.

25 October 1986, X48 becomes the ex-X48

On the eve of deregulation day, the X48 operated its last journey. Its demise ended Manchester’s sole surviving all-year-round stage carriage service with South Yorkshire. Thereafter, National Express offered the only rail and car based alternative between Manchester and Sheffield.

As well as private motoring, another nail in the coffin for the X48 was the Hazel Grove Chord. Prior to its arrival in 1986 and after 1970, Sheffield trains from Piccadilly had to go via Ashburys Junction and Marple. The European from Glasgow Central to Manchester Victoria, Nottingham and Harwich International had to approach the line via Park and Ashburys junctions. Since the chord opened, express train journey times became a faster yet still sedate 50 minutes for the two cities.

30 May 2015, 10,442 days since bus deregulation

On the 30 May 2015, South Pennine Community Transport broke new ground with Greater Manchester’s first stage carriage route along the Isle of Skye Road since 1981. The 352 service from Uppermill to Holmfirth bridged this yawning gap with its Saturdays only service using minibuses. Owing to its popularity, two more return journeys were added on the 14 May 2016.

Unlike the X19 and X20 services before then, the 352 route is a conventional stopping service. By the 05 November, another service was added to the mix.

05 November 2015, 10,602 days since bus deregulation

On the 05 November 2015, South Pennine Community Transport introduced a new service from Ashton-under-Lyne to Holmfirth. The X50, albeit once weekly, re-establishes a link severed by the X19’s withdrawal. Like its predecessor, it is a limited stop route. Unlike its predecessor, Stalybridge is omitted as the service approaches Mossley via First Greater Manchester’s 350 route.

Initially, the service ran on Thursdays with one return journey. Its first route served Top Mossley and Bottom Mossley prior to reaching Greenfield. On the 19 May 2016, it became a Tuesdays only service with two return journeys. The present route omits Bottom Mossley, approaching Greenfield station via Roughtown before continuing to Holmfirth.

11 April 2019, 11,855 days since bus deregulation

After 91 years of stage carriage operation across the Woodhead and Snake passes and the Isle of Skye Road, there is very little to show. All what remains of a once extensive bus network across the Dark Peak are South Pennine Community Transport’s services and two journeys on National Express’ 350 route.

Today, the easiest way of getting from Manchester to Sheffield or Barnsley on public transport is by rail. There are direct trains to smaller stations on the Hope Valley line, plus two trains an hour from Manchester to Sheffield. Continuing to Barnsley requires a change of train at Sheffield or Huddersfield. Sheffield by coach also entails changing at Leeds.

National Express services

350: Liverpool – Manchester – Sheffield – Stansted Airport

  • Liverpool ONE Bus Station: 1220;
  • Manchester Airport, The Station, Bays A, B, or C: arr. 1320, dep. 1325; 1835 (dep. 1820, SSuO);
  • Manchester, Chorlton Street Coach Station: arr. 1350, dep. 1430; arr. 1905, dep. 1915 (arrives and departs 15 minutes later on weekends);
  • Hollingworth, Gun Inn: 1505 and 1940 (1500 and 1925 on weekends);
  • Crowden, outside former Youth Hostel: 1515 and 1950 (1510 and 1935 on weekends);
  • Langsett, Waggon and Horses: 1530 and 2005 (1525 and 1950 on weekends);
  • Stocksbridge, Manchester Road: 1540 and 2015 (1535 and 2000 on weekends);
  • Sheffield, Pond Street Bus Station: 1610 (dep. 1615) and 2040 (dep. 2045) – arrives 1600 and 2025 SSuO (departs at 1605 and 2030 SSuO);
  • Mansfield, Bus Station: 1725 (dep. 1735) and 2135 (arr. 1705 and dep. 1715 and arr. 2120 on weekends);
  • Stansted Airport, Coach Station (Arrival Bays): 2210.

350: Stansted Airport – Sheffield – Manchester – Liverpool

  • Stansted Airport, Coach Station (Bays 22 – 24): 0815, 0830 SSuO;
  • Mansfield, Bus Station: 0630, 0700 SSuO, and 1315;
  • Sheffield, Pond Street Bus Station: 0720 (dep. 0745), 0750 SSuO (dep. 0815 SSuO) and 1415 (dep. 1450);
  • Stocksbridge, Manchester Road: 0810 and 1515;
  • Langsett, Waggon and Horses: 0815 and 1525;
  • Crowden, outside former Youth Hostel: 0835 and 1540;
  • Hollingworth, Gun Inn: 0850 and 1550;
  • Manchester, Chorlton Street Coach Station: arr. 0940, dep. 1020; arr. 1620, dep. 1630 (dep. 1625, SSuO);
  • Manchester Airport, The Station, Bays A, B, or C: arr. 1040, dep. 1045; 1655 (arr. 1650, SSuO);
  • Liverpool ONE Bus Station: 1140.

South Pennine Community Transport services

X50: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Holmfirth (Tuesdays Only)

  • Ashton-under-Lyne, The Engine Room: 1035 and 1320;
  • Top Mossley: 1044 and 1329;
  • Greenfield, Railway Station: 1051 and 1336;
  • Holmfirth, Bus Station (Stand D): 1113 and 1358.

X50: Holmfirth – Greenfield – Mossley – Ashton-under-Lyne (Tuesdays Only)

  • Holmfirth, Bus Station (Stand D): 0955 and 1240;
  • Greenfield, Railway Station: 1017 and 1302;
  • Top Mossley: 1024 and 1309;
  • Ashton-under-Lyne, The Engine Room: 1033 and 1318.

350: Penistone – Denby Dale – New Mill – Holmfirth (Thursdays and Saturdays Only)

  • Penistone, Market Place: 1024 and hourly till 1324;
  • Denby Dale, Miller Hill: 1039 and hourly till 1339;
  • New Mill: 1047 and hourly till 1347;
  • Holmfirth, Bus Station (Stand B): 1051 and hourly till 1351.

350: Holmfirth – New Mill – Denby Dale – Penistone (Thursdays and Saturdays Only)

  • Holmfirth, Bus Station (Stand B): 0955 and hourly till 1255;
  • Holme Moss, Summit: 0959 and hourly till 1259;
  • Denby Dale, Miller Hill: 1007 and hourly till 1307;
  • Penistone, Market Place: 1022 and hourly till 1322.

351: Glossop – Torside – Holme Moss – Holmfirth (Fridays Only)

  • Glossop, Henry Street: 1035 and 1320;
  • Torside, Visitor Centre: 1047 and 1332;
  • Holme Moss, Summit: 1056 and 1341;
  • Holmfirth, Bus Station (Stand D): 1110 and 1355.

351: Holmfirth – Holme Moss – Torside – Glossop (Fridays Only)

  • Holmfirth, Bus Station (Stand D): 0955 and 1240;
  • Holme Moss, Summit: 1009 and 1254;
  • Torside, Visitor Centre: 1018 and 1303;
  • Glossop, Henry Street: 1030 and 1315.

352: Uppermill – Greenfield – Parkhead – Holmfirth (Saturdays Only)

  • Uppermill, The Commercial Hotel: 1025, 1125, 1325, 1425 and 1525;
  • Greenfield, The Clarence Hotel: 1030, 1130, 1330, 1430 and 1530;
  • Parkhead: 1045, 1145, 1345, 1445 and 1545;
  • Holmfirth, Bus Station (Stand D): 1050, 1150, 1350, 1450 and 1550.

352: Holmfirth – Parkhead – Greenfield – Uppermill (Saturdays Only)

  • Holmfirth, Bus Station (Stand D): 0955, 1055, 1155, 1355 and 1455;
  • Parkhead: 1000, 1100, 1200, 1400 and 1500;
  • Greenfield, The Clarence Hotel: 1015, 1115, 1215, 1415 and 1515;
  • Uppermill, The Commercial Hotel: 1020, 1120, 1320, 1420 and 1520.

353: Barnsley – Cawthorne – New Mill – Holmfirth (Wednesdays Only)

  • Barnsley, Eldon Street: 1035, 1200 and 1320;
  • Cawthorne, Tivy Dale: 1050, 1215 and 1335;
  • New Mill: 1107, 1232 and 1352;
  • Holmfirth, Bus Station: 1111, 1236 and 1356.

353: Holmfirth – New Mill – Cawthorne – Barnsley (Wednesdays Only)

  • Holmfirth, Bus Station: 0955, 1120 and 1240;
  • New Mill: 0959, 1124 and 1244;
  • Cawthorne, Tivy Dale: 1016, 1141 and 1301;
  • Barnsley, Eldon Street: 1031, 1156 and 1316.

As you will have noticed above, most of the threads have been picked up South Pennine Community Transport’s routes. Ironically, 91 years after The Holmfirth Express picked up its first passengers, their 353 service stops at the 12 and 16 routes’ first Barnsley terminus: Eldon Street.

With today’s traffic levels and deregulated market, who would want to run a bus service along the Woodhead pass? Winter closures as well as congestion could stymie the operator’s bottom line. With ENCTS contributions, you are talking about three local concessionary fare systems: Transport for Greater Manchester; Derbyshire County Council; and Travel South Yorkshire. TfGM and DCC Wayfarer tickets could be covered.

With turn-up-and-go train fare prices out of reach for many households, there is a genuine need for a nationwide inter-urban network of limited stop buses. That we should reserve for a future blog post.

Whereas National Express, Stagecoach, FirstGroup and Arriva are encouraged to make returns for shareholders, South Pennine CT is a Community Interest Company. It is run for the benefit of its passengers and respective communities.

Minibuses are used with their routes complementing more frequent commercial services, adding something to the West Riding of Yorkshire’s bus operations. They also operate without a subsidy from any of the three Integrated Transport Authorities and Local Authorities within its area.

Sadly, the chances of seeing a direct bus from Manchester to Barnsley are as likely as seeing Saddleworth Rangers lift the Super League title and winning the Rugby League Challenge Cup. For some, the 30 mile journey means the scenic Penistone line when changing at Huddersfield. For many, grappling with the Woodhead or Snake passes by car remains popular.

In neglecting our bus routes, we haven’t only cut back our local services. We have made bus travel a dirty word, despite the fact that buses account for most public transport journeys in the UK. At just under 200 million, it accounts for 79% of public transport journeys in Greater Manchester. Due to our love of the car, we have ostracised swish new bus stations in the same way we do when a department store becomes a Pound Shop.

In doing so, we have denormalised the art of bus travel. To some extent we have done that with scheduled coach services, thanks to trains or private motoring being the norm for long distance or middle distance trips. Thanks to congestion, express bus routes are fading out of view. In Greater Manchester, only Transdev’s Witch Way and Red Express routes are an exception to the rule.

At one time, the X19 to Barnsley, X60 to Blackpool and the 400 Trans-Lancs Express offered inexpensive limited stop travel whilst co-existing with local services. Introducing the free market to bus travel has had a lot to answer for.

“In an urban society, everything connects. Each person’s needs are fed by the skills of many others. Our lives are woven together in a fabric, but the connections that make society strong also make it vulnerable.”

– Barry Hines (opening line in Threads, BBC Two, 23 September 1984)


  • Travel South Yorkshire website: 271 and 272 timetable of Castleton – Sheffield service (03 March 2019);
  • South Yorkshire’s Transport 1974 – 1995: D. Scott Hellewell’s excellent book on SYPTE operations from bendibuses to supertrams and Nipper buses. Sheffield’s answer to Stewart J. Brown’s legendary Greater Manchester Buses book (Venture Publications, 1996);
  • South Pennine Community Transport website: details of present-day timetables and routes (2019);
  • Sheffield History web forum: Sheffield to Manchester via Castleton (2017);
  • Saddleworth Buses: details of the X19, X20, X50, and 352 bus routes (David Beilby, 2018);
  • National Express website: 350 coach timetable (2019);
  • Lower Mosley Street Bus Station 1928 – 1973: e-book history of Manchester’s most iconic coach station by Neville Mercer (Local Transport History Library, 2015);
  • Barnsley and Doncaster Bus and Train Timetables: comprehensive timetable covering all bus, coach and rail routes in South Yorkshire County Council’s Barnsley and Doncaster districts. Also separate changes booklet published in February 1981 (South Yorkshire PTE, September 1980 and February 1981).

S.V., 11 April 2019.

9 thoughts on “Crossing the South Pennines By Bus: A Lost Bus Routes Special

  1. Other services were run by West Yorkshire PTE, at certain times mainly Sundays were 901 etc Huddersfield-Holmfirth-Glossop-Matlock-Crich, Huddersfield-Holmfirth-Glossop-Snake-Derwent-Castleton-Tideswell-Buxton or Bakewell, Oldham or Ashton-Greenfield-Glossop, Oldham-Greenfield-Holmfirth-Huddersfield, Buses at Glossop met up with a Rossendale bus to Snake & Castleton etc. Greater Manchester buses extended buses on 180 service from Greenfield-Holmfirth & Huddersfield on Sundays.


    1. Hi John,

      The seasonal services haven’t escaped my mind. I do remember seeing an extended 180 en route to Holmfirth shortly before bus deregulation and in GMT’s Express livery. I was sat in my late grandad’s car en route to Sid’s Café on the Isle of Skye Road and it was truly lashing down. This was around 1986.

      I shall consider a follow-up to this piece on the seasonal services. The 460 (later the 473) from Rochdale to Crich Tramway Village springs to mind as one. Also some of Mayne of Manchester’s Summer Sunday routes from Glossop to Castleton (alongside their all-year-round journeys of the 236 to Piccadilly Gardens).




      1. that would be service 430 think it ran till about 1988 180 use to extend to Huddersfield on sundays and bank holidays after


    1. Hi Andrew,

      Fantastic stuff! I last went to Castleton in 1998, and Crich in 2002 (on Rossendale’s 473 seasonal service from Ashton-under-Lyne). When I went to Castleton bus station, there was a South Yorkshire PTE plaque with the first version of the ‘flying duck’ logo. (If anyone has been to Castleton more recently, I would be grateful to know if it still exists).

      Slightly off-topic, the main stop for Ashton-bound 236s and 237s outside Glossop Market Hall has moved a few yards west of the market. Its temporary stop is a Travel South Yorkshire one! (Did Derbyshire County Council have any of their temporary stops left for Glossopians?)

      Bye for now,



  2. i remember the 430 service that ran to Holmfirth using Express livered buses with todays south pennine 352 service my mother uses in and they are very good i might have a ride on it myself one day


  3. A great topic to read about. I’m 36 so don’t remember these trans pennine services but I was born in Barnsley and live in Newton, Hyde. I’ve always thought that a limited Barnsley to Manchester service could be well patronised if promoted adequately. Sadly, I have even made a fantasy timetable in the past.

    As you mentioned, Barnsley to Manchester by train requires a change in Sheffield, and despite a fast and frequent service between Barnsley and Sheffield, it still takes around 90 minutes.

    I’ve always thought that such a bus service could benefit, in particular, Penistone. Being on the very western edge of Barnsley/Sheffield, the are is still on Manchester’s commuter belt.

    Barry Hines was born in the same place as my Grandma, a small town called Hoyland and the quote you used is very true. Threads is still a film that I haven’t had the bottle to watch….. Sheffield was a place too close to home.


    1. Hi …,

      Greater Manchester’s poor public transport connections with South Yorkshire has been a source of bewilderment to me. Before COVID-19, Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield train services were always packed to the rafters. Despite being 50 minutes, it is the only viable alternative to the car or the coach (especially as the coach option means changing at Leeds for more regular services).

      Surely, there must be a market for vastly improved public transport links between Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire? If we didn’t close the Woodhead line, Manchester’s commuter belt could have been extended towards Barnsley. Conversely, Tameside could have been a good travel to work area for Sheffield as well as Manchester.

      I too am guilty of composing fantasy timetables – usually for local routes. Often with the onus of trying to make sure that every town in Tameside has a direct link with its other eight parts of the borough – and a full time link with Manchester city centre.




  4. I drove for “Tracky” until 1996, mainly on the 381/4, Barnsley-Stocksbridge-Flouch-Penistone-Barnsley circulars & the 231-6 series, Barnsley- Holmfirth/Huddersfield (by various routes – including 234 via Penistone & Flouch.)

    Referring to the section ’25 October 1986, X48 becomes the ex-X48′.

    Yes the X48 ceased in October but, on 3 November 1986, Richardson’s Travel of Sheffield started an X49 service, Rotherham-Sheffield-Stocksbridge-Stockport-Manchester Airport with 7 return journeys per day. This is shown in the Feb 87 edition of the SYPTE Barnsley/Doncaster timetable booklet and I have scans of the relevant page.
    It certainly ran throughout 1987 but I can’t remember if it ran thereafter and I can’t lay my hands on later timetables.

    After leaving “Tracky” I drove for a private hire minibus firm on, an average of, 2 runs per day from Barnsley/Penistone/Stocksbridge to Manchester Airport.
    During this time I often wondered if a local service linking Penistone (Huddersfield/Barnsley/Sheffield trains) or Stocksbridge (Sheffield Supertram link) to Glossop (trains to Manchester) would be viable. 17 miles, in either case, and avoids the worst of the Woodhead traffic jams. Slow for through journeys but still useful?

    You are aware, I assume, of Hulley’s new X57 service, Sheffield/Snake/Glossop/Manchester.

    Liked by 1 person

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