MY LIFE AND TIMES IN TRANSPORT
MY EARLIEST RECOLLECTIONS
My earliest recollections of buses - unlike some people, who could tell the difference between a PD2 and an AEC Regent at 2 miles, (and from their pram) - was from about the age of 6, which would make it the mid 1950s.
We lived in an area of the West Riding of Yorkshire called Saddleworth, in the Village of Greenfield.
Whilst Saddleworth was in Yorkshire, our nearest Town was Oldham, and the nearest City was Manchester, both of which were firmly in Lancashire.
The area was served by 4 main operators, these being:-
Oldham Corporation Passenger Transport Department (OCPTD),
Manchester Corporation Transport Department (MCTD),
North Western Road Car Co Ltd (NWRCC), and
Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Joint Transport and Electricity Board (SHMD).
There were also Express Services operated by the Tyne Tees/Mersey Pool, which produced a variety of operators, the others being operated by NWRCC.
Another interesting service was that operated by Hanson Buses, from Huddersfield to Oldham. I seem to remember that they had rather an interesting fleet of AECs, some of which were re-builds.
We lived in an area of Greenfield called Dacres, and the bus route which went past, was the 154, a joint operation between SHMD and NWRCC. The route ran between Ashton-under-Lyne (St Michael’s Square) and Uppermill (Commercial Hotel) via Mossley Station and Greenfield.
If journeys further afield were required a change had to be made at Greenfield (Clarence Hotel) on to the Service 10 for Oldham and Manchester. Or at Uppermill for services for other Saddleworth villages, such as Denshaw, Diggle, Dobcross, and (the village where I would later live) Delph.
Uppermill Square in the mid 1960s. Note the old Cinema in the right distance - which at that time was Central Garage, owned by Miles Bottomley who lived at 7 Dacres Avenue, we lived at No2.
I bought many a car from here, the last being a Ford Escort - UVH 19R.
Buses on the 154 service used to pull on to the car park of the Commercial Hotel on the right and then reverse in to the side street to wait departure time.
Only single deckers could be used on the 154 service because of a Low Bridge at Black Rock between Stalybridge and Mossley, which carried the Stalybridge to Huddersfield railway line.
This line ran through the Standedge Tunnel from Diggle to Marsden.
For those of you interested in railways Standedge Tunnel was opened in 1894 by the London and North Western Railway with a double track and a length of 3 miles 60 yards (4806m). The tunnel is the 3rd longest in Britain, after the Severn Tunnel, and the Sheffield to Manchester route’s Totley Tunnel.
The SHMD operated a combination of Daimler and Atkinson single deckers on the 154.
I remember the rear entrance Daimler CVD6s (MMA56-60 Fleet Nos.56-60) new in 1950, with Northern Counties bodies, (the SHMD standard bodybuilder from 1950 until their last new deliveries in 1967, before SELNEC took over), because they had leather bell pulls in the overhead grab rails – like London Transport.
It was always the highlight of any journey if I could ring the bell by this method.
Another memory of these buses was the lovely engine sound they gave. It still lingers in my memory today.
As an aside, (of which there will be many as we go through this journey) I remember the crews of SHMD, always seemed to wear the full uniform of Blue serge with green piping around the tunic collar, and down the trouser leg. Uniform caps, with the SHMD logo badge, were always worn, with white cap covers in the summer.
Not like today’s Corporate designs, AND always worn with a yellow fluorescent HiViz waistcoat, (why do they bother with the uniform - just give them the yellow jacket instead).
1953 saw the arrival of a Daimler G6H with B34C bodywork (Reg No. PLG 967, Fleet No 67), and in 1954, 2 similar bodied Atkinson PL746Hs arrived (SMA 868-869, Fleet Nos. 68/69), with 2 more in 1956 (XLG 477-478 Fleet Nos. 77/78).
All these vehicles regularly appeared on the 154, the centre entrance with large standee areas being of particular interest, because there was a front nearside seat beside the Driver, which allowed great views of what this illustrious gentleman was doing, the views of the road being of little interest.
67 was particularly interesting, because it had a pre-selector gearbox. I could never work out how the driver changed gear long after he had moved the gear lever. Something I was to find out about 17 years later.
More Atkinson’s arrived in 1959, (993-995 GMA Fleet Nos. 93-95), but this time with B34F bodies, with single seats at the front of the saloon to get the high standing capacity achieved on the centre entrance type.
NORTH WESTERN ROAD CAR COMPANY LIMITED
North Western Road Car Companies earliest contribution, which I remember were, the Bristol L5Gs with Weymann bodies, from the 1950 delivery. They had rear entrance bodies, with a Conductor operated door, and a big chrome heater on the front bulkhead.
I seem to remember that they were rather finely upholstered, with deep seat cushions (or was this because I was young and small). Of course my favourite seat was the one right at the front behind the Driver.
Later additions to the fleet in 1954/55 saw Leyland Cubs, again with Weymann bodies, allocated to the service, along with AEC Reliance’s with both Willowbrook and Alexander (my personal favourite) dual purpose bodies.
Little did I then realize that I would drive some of these very vehicles, when they were transferred to SELNEC.
Oldham Depot was later allocated the whole delivery of a batch of Albion Aberdonians (714-719), in 1957, which only lasted 10 years before withdrawal.
These were used mainly as OMO buses, and so did not stray onto the 154 often, as Crew operation still existed.
Of course with NWRCC being such a big organization, vehicles moved around the Depots, so it was not unusual for any single deck vehicle type to be used, on the 154.
In 1962 my Father died, and it was decided that we would move from Dacres, back to the village of Delph where my Mothers family lived, and where she had been born.
Delph was mainly served by buses from NWRCC, but OCPTD, and MCTD operated from Delph Station to Oldham and Manchester on the 13/14 services, and the 153/155 Uppermill Circular.