Bus Route Wonders of Greater Manchester #5: 184, Manchester – Oldham – Huddersfield

The Fifth of East of the M60’s Seven Bus Route Wonders of the Greater Manchester area

First Greater Manchester, Enviro400, Oldham bus station
In Full Flight: an Enviro400, loading at Oldham bus station on the full fat version of the 184 route.

The recent fortunes of our fifth route was made possible by the vagaries of bus deregulation. Greater integration between FirstGroup’s Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire companies Continue reading “Bus Route Wonders of Greater Manchester #5: 184, Manchester – Oldham – Huddersfield”

Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, 28 October 2012: Trick or Treat Indeed!

Service changes ensure week of chaos for Saddleworth residents

  • 180 daytime service frequency halved;
  • 184 route revised;
  • Grotton services boosted;
  • 415 curtailed to operate between Oldham and Middleton;
  • 350 rerouted via Greenacres.
First Greater Manchester, Enviro400, Oldham bus station
From Sunday 28 October, the 184 to Huddersfield will also call at Diggle (Old Station Turning) and be operated by First Greater Manchester in its entirety.

Insensitive timing is an art form for many foot-in-mouth celebrities and the most callous of individuals. A certain ministerial aide on the day of 9/11 said it was that Tuesday was a ‘good day to bury bad news’; governments announce cuts to state benefits whilst cutting the top rate of income tax or postponing a Mansion Tax. Continue reading “Saddleworth Bus Service Changes, 28 October 2012: Trick or Treat Indeed!”

Great Olympians of our Time #16: First Manchester’s R622 JUB

A much travelled Volvo Olympian which, by the time you have read this, may have seen all parts of First Manchester territory!

Volvo Olympian, Alexander body, R622 JUB, First Pioneer, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station
R622 JUB seen on the 348 route to Carrbrook at Ashton bus station, October 2011. Notice the Dennis Arrow behind.

For our penultimate Great Olympian of our Time, we have before your very eyes a much travelled one of First Manchester’s vehicles. For once, it doesn’t fit the (seemingly) unofficial criteria in this feature of being a Northern Counties bodied vehicle. R622 JUB is bodied by one of NCME’s successors, Walter Alexander and Son – now Alexander Dennis.

R622 JUB entered service with FirstGroup’s West Yorkshire subsidiary [Yorkshire Rider] in February 1998, and offered a real contrast to their mainly Roe bodied fleet. By 2008, she moved to First Potteries, then First Chester and Wirral the following year.

In 2010, reorganisation saw First Chester and Wirral come under the control of First Manchester. From there, she would be seen in Greater Manchester the following year, on loan. September 2011 saw her on hire to their Dukinfield garage. The following month’s image sees her on the popular 348 route.

Her stay in Tameside was temporary as she moved to Oldham in the new year. Today, she now resides at Bury depot, though there’s every chance she might be in Bolton or Wigan by the time you’ve read this!

S.V., 11 August 2012.

Trans-Pennine Real Ale Pubs: The Not So Perfect Ten

Ten real ale pubs across the Pennines, coast to coast

Whitby ... 'THE BLACK HORSE'.
The Black Horse pub sign, Whitby. Photograph by BazzaDaRambler (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved License).

Somewhere in the mists of time, East of the M60 wrote a post entitled ‘Silence, Tea and Sky’, a Trans-Pennine trail of desirable tea shops along railway routes. Today, our return leg from Scarborough has had us searching for something stronger, often served in a much bigger drinking vessel. Continue reading “Trans-Pennine Real Ale Pubs: The Not So Perfect Ten”

Great Olympians of our Time #6: Halifax Joint Committee J829 CEV

A Happy Yorkshire Day, courtesy of Halifax Joint Committee’s former Dublin Bus example

Ex-Dublin Bus Leyland Olympian, Halifax Joint Committee
Resplendent: the Halifax Joint Committee’s revived former municipal livery seen on a former Dublin Bus Leyland Olympian.

Between 1995 and 2009, Tony Blackman’s Halifax Joint Committee operated stage carriage services in the Huddersfield and Halifax areas. Its operations had modest beginnings with a heritage bus service between Hebden Bridge and Halifax. By 2001, they expanded with a mix of subsidised and commercial services, most notably the 509 from Halifax to Leeds via Bradford and various free buses for supermarket chains.

Today, stage carriage operations have been scaled down, with two free buses from Halifax to the town’s Sainsburys store, and a similar one from Brighouse to its town’s TESCO. The exception to this is a schooldays only service in Hebden Bridge. Besides stage carriage services, heritage charters using restored vehicles form part of their business.

Our Leyland Olympian hitherto saw service for Dublin Bus in 1992. Under the registration number 91-D-10108, it entered service as a dual door double decker. Having boarded this vehicle itself, its conversion to single door was pretty neat, and she made light work of the gradients up to Quarmby. The green moquette trim on the seats was in good condition, as demonstrated below on my journey:

Halifax Joint Omnibus Committee Volvo Olympian interior
Top deck interior layout of J829 CEV: it was quite a task trying to get a decent shot whilst the vehicle was in motion (yours truly being sat in schoolchild ratbag mode).

S.V., 01 August 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #5: First Huddersfield T661 VWU

Swansong awaits the Volvo Olympian

Volvo Olympian, Huddersfield railway station
Towards the 21st century: a First Huddersfield T-reg example T661 VWU, seen outside its railway station.

By 1998, the big bus owning groups took hold of Britain’s bus network. Besides a radical shake up of operators, the number of bodybuilders also fell. Eastern Coach Works left the scene in 1985, Charles H. Roe became Optare. Courtesy of, or through happy accident, Perth and Aberdeen based Stagecoach and FirstGroup opted for Celtic bodybuilders, namely Walter Alexander and Son and, in later years, Wright.

By 1999, the Northern Counties name was no more, following its absorption by Henlys in 1995. That year saw NCME bodied buses becoming Plaxton bodied vehicles.

FirstGroup, like Stagecoach, have had dealings with Alexander with their roots stretching back to the Grampian Regional Transport era. This example seen outside Huddersfield railway station is among the last Volvo Olympians to have entered service. The last newly built Volvo Olympians would enter service in 2000. Even in 2012, Volvo Olympians remain in service on less lucrative routes or school services.

S.V., 31 July 2012.