Ten more lost bus routes of Greater Manchester

When did we last do a Lost Bus Routes Not So Perfect Ten? The answer to that was eight years ago. Since then, Lost Bus Routes of Greater Manchester has spawned a fair number of spin-offs. These have focused on individual routes or a collection of routes in and around Greater Manchester.

Thanks in no small part to spending cuts affecting tendered routes, there has been a few potential additions. As usual, we may focus on previous incarnations of certain routes. Or earlier routes where the numbers have been reallocated elsewhere.

  • 172: Stockport – Heaton Chapel – Droylsden – Newton Heath – Oldham – Higginshaw (Mayne of Manchester);
  • 232: Oldham – Glodwick – Hartshead – Littlemoss – Droylsden – Manchester (Mayne of Manchester);
  • 187: Audenshaw – Droylsden – Clayton – Manchester [Stevenson Square] (Greater Manchester Transport);
  • 300: Offerton [Alfreton Road] – Stockport [Mersey Square] (Greater Manchester Transport);
  • 381: Hazelhurst – Ashton-under-Lyne – Guide Bridge – Denton – Brinnington – Stockport (Pennine Blue);
  • 387: Ashton-under-Lyne – Ridge Hill – Dukinfield [Yew Tree] – Newton – Hyde (First Pennine);
  • 375: Tameside Hospital – Ashton-under-Lyne – Guide Bridge – Denton – Stockport – Bosden Farm (Tame Valley Motor Services);
  • 334: Ashton-under-Lyne – Stalybridge – Newton – Hyde – Stockport (Pennine Blue);
  • X21: Manchester – Openshaw – Fairfield – Audenshaw – Dukinfield [Tennyson Avenue] (Tame Valley Motor Services) (Limited Stop);
  • 431: Oldham – Uppermill – Carrcote – Diggle [Old Station Turning] (Greater Manchester Transport).

Our latest instalment concentrates on the eastern part of Greater Manchester. There is a healthy bias towards Ashton-under-Lyne and Saddleworth.

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1. Stockport – Heaton Chapel – Droylsden – Newton Heath – Oldham – Higginshaw (172):

At the start of bus deregulation, Mayne of Manchester returned to its 1930s roots – by expanding its bus operations in a deregulated environment. In the run-up to what Andy Burnham classed as the ‘Free Trade Experiment’, Mayne had registered limited stop routes from Manchester to Glossop (the High Peak Pacers). Before then, Mayne had a joint operating agreement with Manchester Corporation (and its successors) which was legally binding till the 26 October 1986.

One of their early deregulation era routes was the 172 from Stockport to Heaton Chapel, Droylsden, Newton Heath, Oldham and Higginshaw. It had a basic frequency of every two hours on weekdays and Saturdays. In the peak hours, every half hour.

What Happened Next? The route in that form was withdrawn by 1988. Part of the Droylsden – Stockport section lives on in today’s 7 route (which was created by The Bee Line Buzz Company). Mayne of Manchester found another way of reaching Oldham.

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2. Oldham – Glodwick – Hartshead – Littlemoss – Droylsden – Manchester (232):

Exactly a year on from Deregulation Day, Mayne found another way of getting to Oldham town centre. This time with its first incarnation of the 232 route. Up to Hartshead, it followed the route of Stagecoach Greater Manchester’s 231 service. Instead of turning right towards Hurst and Tameside Hospital at St. Alban’s Avenue, it turned left towards Lees.

After turning left outside The Red House, it followed the 408 route via Lees New Road and Abbey Hills Road into Oldham.

What Happened Next? The Oldham to Hartshead section of the 232 was withdrawn when Mayne of Manchester changed the 232 into a circular route. This incarnation saw the 232 serving Tameside Hospital before reaching Top Mossley, Carrbrook, Millbrook, Stalybridge and Ashton-under-Lyne. Thereafter, it returned to Manchester via Smallshaw and the Broadoak Hotel before following today’s 231 route.

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3. Audenshaw – Droylsden – Clayton – Manchester [Stevenson Square] (187):

Taking the pressure off the 216 route, the 187 was launched as a complementary route from Audenshaw to Manchester. Both routes terminated at Stevenson Square, but the 187 also went via Edge Lane and North Road. By 1986, the 187 had had some journeys extended to Ashton-under-Lyne. It had a stablemate in the 189 route with both the 187 and 189 serving Clayton Street and Tartan Street.

What Happened Next? The 187 was renumbered 217 – in line with its peers on the Ashton New Road corridor. Though not a Lost Bus Route, there’s a fair amount of history in the successor’s last 30 years of operation. At this time of writing, Diamond Bus North West have taken over from MCT Travel as its operator.

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4. Offerton [Alfreton Road] – Stockport [Mersey Square] (300):

This one is probably the most obscure route of our latest round-up. During the 1970s, there was an express route from Stockport [Mersey Square] to Offerton [Alfreton Road]. It ran non-stop from Dialstone Lane to Mersey Square.

As to why Alfreton Road warranted an express route with Stockport is anyone’s guess. We think this may have been a special service for visitors and key workers at the Cherry Tree Hospital for Infectious Diseases, which was on Dialstone Lane and Cherry Tree Lane. Along Lisburne Lane, the Offerton Park Mental Hospital was a leisurely stroll away.

What Happened Next? From our fairly limited primary sources, the route seems to have disappeared in the late 1970s to early 1980s. If you have any further information on the 300 route from Stockport to Offerton, please drop us a line.

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5. Hazelhurst – Ashton-under-Lyne – Guide Bridge – Denton – Brinnington – Stockport (381):

Once upon a time, quite some time ago, there was an iconic bus operator called the North Western Road Car Company. It is claimed that an Act of Parliament heralded its demise. From Stockport to Denton, one of its routes was the 81 via Brinnington. Upon renumbering it became the 381, a route that regularly saw Bristol VR double deckers.

By 1990, the 381 was extended way beyond its original route – to Ashton-under-Lyne and Hazelhurst Estate. Pennine Blue, who took over the route from GM Buses ran the 381 as per today’s 327 route from Stockport to Denton. North of Crown Point, it continued to Ashton via Guide Bridge and Stockport Road. Then to Hazelhurst via Kings Road and Gorsey Lane.

In 1990, Pennine Blue fused the Ashton – Hazelhurst section of the 337 (or A1 if you prefer) with the Denton route. This complemented their 347 and 348 routes, which were extended to Hey Farm Estate, Micklehurst.

What Happened Next? Sadly, the joys of ferrying passengers from Higher Hurst to Bredbury Industrial Estate were short lived. The northern section of the 381 (Ashton – Hazelhurst) became the 38 and 39 routes. The 381 from Denton to Stockport became the 327 route.

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6. Ashton-under-Lyne – Ridge Hill – Dukinfield [Yew Tree] – Newton – Hyde (387):

Since 1974, there has been four 387 routes in the Tameside area. They have had the same shelf life as a bar of chocolate on a windowsill in full view of sunlight. In the last few days at this time of writing, another 387 route met its maker. For this post, we look at one that First Manchester concocted in 2003.

Before 2003, you could get from The Angel to The Bike and Hound (via The Albion and The Forester) on the 41 route. This absorbed the less frequent 1 route from Hyde to Ashton-under-Lyne (via the 346 route to Town Lane then Ashton via Chapel Street and King Street). After 2003, the 41 was revised to terminate at Tennyson Avenue – as per its present guise as the 41A. Back then, sister route 389 had four buses per hour: Stagecoach’s to Marple with First running one per hour to Gee Cross – three per hour to Hyde bus station.

With one of the 389 journeys, First Manchester renumbered one bus per hour as the 387. This ran along the 389’s route up to the Cheshire Cheese. At Ashton Road, it followed the 346’s route to Hyde bus station. Perhaps First thought that three buses per hour on the old 350/351 (15/15A before 1973) Shaw Hall Circular would have been good for FirstDay ticket sales.

What Happened Next? In February 2007, First Manchester announced the withdrawal of its 387 route along with five others in Greater Manchester (the 343 was the other one in Tameside). Whereas the 343 saw a new operator in SpeedwellBus (along with four other routes that changed hands), the 387 was withdrawn. Its number was reallocated to Stagecoach Manchester’s 238 route – which was taken over by SpeedwellBus in 2005.

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7. Tameside Hospital – Ashton-under-Lyne – Guide Bridge – Denton – Stockport – Bosden Farm (375):

Before SpeedwellBus, there was Glossopdale Bus Company. Before then, there was Tame Valley Motor Services. Both Tame Valley and Glossopdale had operated the 375 route at some point in their history. The 375’s unique selling point was a direct route from Stockport to Tameside Hospital. At its southern end it terminated at Bosden Farm Estate. It approached Stockport via Hempshaw Lane and reached Denton via Reddish.

Up to Debdale Park it continued to Crown Point via Hyde Road. Then Ashton-under-Lyne via Ashton Road and Stockport before terminating at Tameside Hospital.

What Happened Next? The service survived Glossopdale’s acquisition by Stagecoach Manchester in April 1999 and continued its merry way. Later tweaks saw a change of route in Denton (via Dane Bank) and a renumbering from 375 to 317 (375 was reallocated to the 363 route from Stockport to Mellor). In January 2015, thanks to traffic at Crown Point, Stagecoach Manchester withdrew the 317. At that point, it had lost its sections between Ashton and Tameside Hospital, and its southern section between Stockport and Bosden Farm.

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8. Ashton-under-Lyne – Stalybridge – Newton – Hyde – Stockport (334):

Within this round up we seem to be going to Stockport more often than Frankie Vaughan ever did. In 1991, the closure of Bee Line’s Stalybridge depot (ironically close to SHMD’s Tame Street garage) saw the end of the 14 route. With Pennine Blue taking over, the 14 became the 334.

Initially, the 334 route was a Saturdays Only service from Stockport to Stalybridge and Ashton-under-Lyne. It followed the 330 route up to Hyde bus station before continuing to Stalybridge via Lodge Lane (Flowery Field), Ashton Road and Cheetham Hill Road. From Stalybridge, it continued to Ashton via Stamford Street.

What Happened Next? Management changes saw to the end of the 334 route. Pennine Blue was purchased by Badgerline via its Potteries Motor Traction licence. Instead of retaining the 334, PMT added the Hyde to Stockport section to journeys of their 346 route. Bee Line would have a brief stint on the 330 route – competing against GM Buses and (up to Hyde bus station) Stuart’s Bus and Coach.

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9. Manchester – Openshaw – Fairfield – Audenshaw – Dukinfield [Tennyson Avenue (X21):

Before October 1980, the 220 and 221 routes were Greater Manchester Transport’s limited stop routes. In 1991, Tame Valley Motor Services chose to muscle in on GM Buses’ patch with the X21 – a limited stop version of the 221 route. Whereas the 220 and 221 were full time routes, the X21 operated in peak hours.

What Happened Next? The X21’s day in the sun was a short lived one. It was withdrawn by Autumn 1991. Unlike GM Buses’ routes, it lacked the convenience of a terminus at Manchester Victoria station (Tame Valley opted for Piccadilly Bus Station) and the customer loyalty. Three decades on, its successor and one-time contemporary (the 221) operates from Piccadilly Gardens with a service as sparse as Tame Valley’s journeys.

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10. Oldham – Uppermill – Carrcote – Diggle (431):

For our final route, we look at a Saddleworth service that gave Diggle its first connection with Oldham town centre. The 431, introduced on the 21 July 1974, linked Diggle with Oldham via Carrcote. From Diggle to Dobcross it would follow today’s expanded 356 route, then the 350 route all the way down to Oldham.

With the Carrcote section added to the 355 route on the 20 July 1980, the 431 became a straightforward Oldham to Diggle route via Uppermill. In effect, a part route version of the 84 or 184 with a chunk of Nexus Move’s 356 to Diggle north of Saddleworth viaduct. For most of its life, it was operated using single decker buses.

What Happened Next? The service was withdrawn on the 26 October 1986. It had been survived by an extension of the 427 route from Grotton to Diggle. Today, it is covered by the 356 Saddleworth Rambler and First Greater Manchester’s 84, 184 and (from Greenfield railway station) 180 routes.

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Before I go…

Do you have any memories of boarding or driving any of the above routes? Did you ever step on board the non-stop 300 or choose the X21 over the 221? Feel free to comment.

S.V., 20 April 2020.

3 thoughts on “Lost Bus Routes of Greater Manchester V, The Ocarina of Bus Times: The Not So Perfect Ten

  1. I used to love the 334 as it enabled me to get home from high school by just one bus instead of two! I missed it a lot at the time when they withdrew it.


    1. Hi Andrew,

      I never got chance to catch the 334, though I took a trip on its immediate predecessor which was The Bee Line Buzz Company’s 14 route. That journey was on Bonfire Night 1987, on my way back from a Tameside MBC organised display in Hyde Park. Alighted at Fir Tree Lane before walking the rest of the journey home. This was when they upheld the original premise of frequent minibuses instead of less frequent relics.




  2. Hello, on #7 ( 375). The nowadays 375 almost got withdrawn a few days ago. It is the only route in Mellor and Hawk Green so it’s as vital as a bus route can be or else some people will have no connection to the outside world. Please can we celebrate the councillors transport committee or not and not to forget the local MP who worked cross party to save the 375!


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