East of the M60’s thirteen years on the blogosphere
To misquote a certain Iron Lady, we are a teenager now. Or rather, East of the M60 is celebrating its thirteenth birthday. Like yours truly was in 1992, in its teenage years. The very point where we begin to moan about tidying our bedroom. That very point where we start getting interested in same sex or opposite sex relationships.
Back in 1992, us teenagers didn’t have the internet to help us with our homework. Or the joys of social media channels to distract us from learning algebra. If pubescent boys wanted a bit of wrist action, it came from the lingerie section of the Family Album catalogue. Instead of being online like Fortnite or Candy Crush Saga, our video games came on physical media – cartridges, floppy discs and cassettes. Titles like Sensible Soccer, Sonic The Hedgehog and Street Fighter II.
Back in 1992, our buses were different: low-floor buses didn’t exist; First and Stagecoach had yet to make inroads in the Tameside area. GM Buses had yet to be split by HM Government. GMT Standard Leyland Atlantean and Leyland Olympian buses were still a common sight. Ashton-under-Lyne was on its second bus station, and two years away from its third thanks to the Arcades Shopping Centre.
As for the borough’s retail scene, the Clarendon Mall in Hyde – recently refurbished a year earlier – was the place to visit. The Co-op’s Arcadia store was months away from closure, after its front windows were bricked up in the name of modernisation. Ashton Market was buoyant as ever and – shortly after Christmas 1992 – gained a new set of stalls. Hyde Market followed suit with its popular indoor and open markets. Denton, Droylsden and Mossley still had open markets; Stalybridge had two open markets (Trinity Street and Grosvenor Street) and a market hall.
Back then, ‘contactless’ meant hiding away from a certain relative. ‘Online’ was at one time the name of a (non-online) NatWest bank account. A disc drive could have costed almost as much as a home computer. Till the end of its commercial life, the Commodore 64’s 1541 disc drive costed slightly more than the computer itself. Instead of Twitter, the portable radio was a dependable way of keeping in touch with the football results.
If 1992 seemed a world away from 2019, the same could also be said of 2006 when East of the M60 was launched. Instead of smartphones we had PDAs. We viewed our websites on desktop or laptop computers, and a great many of us had dial-up internet. AOL discs also made for good cup coasters.
In the public transport scene, you could still get a bus from Dukinfield to Manchester city centre outside the peak hours. Ashton’s Metrolink line had yet to be built. The hottest thing on Transpennine Express’ routes were the new-fangled Class 185 DMUs – which in their refurbished form – still see service in Stalybridge today.
As for retail, the internet had yet to make any real impact on Tameside’s businesses. The idea of local businesses having their own website (Facebook and Twitter had yet to gain mass appeal) was groundbreaking instead of being a given aspect of any business plan. Ashton Market had yet to recover from the spoils of its 2004 fire (a temporary unit was built off Penny Meadow). Stalybridge had lost its market on New Year’s Eve 1999.
The biggest threat to Tameside’s retail scene (before the internet’s pre-eminence) was out-of-town shopping. Chequebooks started to give way to debit cards and, in 2006, online banking gained popularity. It was also the last year when you could do a pub crawl and return home smelling like an ashtray.
Thank You For Your Support
Without your support, East of the M60 wouldn’t have troubled the nether regions of cyberspace for thirteen years. Hopefully for the next thirteen years, it will continue to entertain and infuriate in equal measure. Whether you visit East of the M60 for the latest bus service changes or our concert reviews, we thank you for commenting and inspiring subsequent articles.
In the next month, expect to see September’s edition of The Ashton Review of Shops, and a forthcoming review of Pride Brass’ concert at the Boarshurst Band Club. We might even throw in a bus-themed feature for good measure.
Before we go…
East of the M60 is also made possible by the following tools and processes:
- Copious amounts of Yorkshire Tea consumed in EM60 Towers;
- The calming influence of the creator’s Jack Russell Terrier (who is slightly older than the East of the M60 blog);
- Various bus routes across the UK, particularly in North West England and Yorkshire;
- The collected works of Eric Ball, George Allan, William Rimmer, and various other composers of brass band music;
- Top notch arrangements of popular and classical music by the likes of Goff Richards, Darrol Barry, and Christopher Wormald;
- Miscellaneous fluff on YouTube and traditional media, such as television and radio;
- Pork Pies of distinction, baked by Andrew Jones Pies or whoever makes them for Pearson’s butchers on Ashton Market;
- Donkeystone Brewing Company’s Cotton Clouds ale, and other fine real ales by the Greenfield-based brewery;
- First Choice County Cars: who needs Uber when a jolly driver in a Skoda Octavia could whisk you away from Saddleworth in good time?
- The letters ‘S’ and ‘V’, and the number 346;
- Tameside MBC’s Libraries Department: whether the state-of-the-art facility in Tameside One or Dukinfield library;
- The GIMP 2.10 image processing package and its predecessors on Windows and MacOS operating systems;
- Tony Currie’s Lively Lounge on Radio Six International and Two Lochs Radio (isn’t internet radio wonderful).
S.V., 15 August 2019.