Buses and Coaches in Sale



Until the age of nine I lived in a small village near Northwich in the middle of Cheshire. One of the delights of these younger years was the monthly family shopping trip to Manchester, usually on a Saturday, which involved a long journey on North Western's route 36. By the early 1960s the vehicles involved were inevitably double-deckers with the "KDB" batch of PD2/21s with lowbridge Orion bodywork the most frequent, backed up as required by pre-war Bristol K5Gs with post-war Willowbrook bodies. I know that most people (myself included) consider the Orion body to be an example of engineering which could only be loved by an accountant, but I still have a soft-spot for the "KDBs" and would be ecstatic to discover that the only vehicle from the batch with no known demise (KDB 666 which was exported to Canada) had in fact survived. The K5Gs were also marvellous machines from the viewpoint of a small child, although less popular with crew members. On one Saturday morning in 1960 one of the venerable K5Gs broke down between Tabley and Altrincham and North Western's Manchester depot sent out a brand new Loline II with East Lancs bodywork in its place. This created quite a stir among country folk who had never seen a forward entrance double-decker. Sadly it was not a shopping day so I had to content myself with gazing at the newfangled intruder.
From my home village the number 36 took the "B" road to Tabley and then joined the A556, which merged with the A56 at the Lymm turn-off before entering the Manchester conurbation via the posh suburb of Bowdon and the equally posh market town of Altrincham. Altrincham bus station was a good place to get my notebook and pencil out as North Western's local garage had many types not found in the Northwich area. In addition there were the first Manchester Corporation buses to be logged, operating from a street terminus at The Downs Hotel to both Piccadilly (route number 47) and Exchange (route 48). At least those were the destinations on the front of the MCTD buses, although the "Piccadilly" terminus was identical to the location shown more accurately on North Western's 36 as "Manchester Parker Street" and the "Exchange" terminus was better described as "St Mary's Gate", being some distance from Exchange railway station and equally distant from the Corn Exchange building which overlooked the bus station normally described as "Cannon Street".
After pausing at Altrincham the 36 became a Limited Stop "by arrangement with Manchester Corporation" service. In theory it was available to local passengers from the few stops which it observed, but in reality North Western drivers became selectively blind when hailed en route and sailed serenely by without any attempt to pick up. Passengers at certain stops close to traffic lights were wise to this and would attempt to board, some of them being told fanciful lies by conductors who had already completed their waybills after leaving Altrincham!
The next municipality after Altrincham was the Borough of Sale, a small village which had been transformed into a sizeable "dormitory town" for Manchester after the opening of the Manchester, South Junction, and Altrincham Railway. For a young bus enthusiast passing through on a number 36 Sale had several attractions. The route passed the terminus of MCTD route 50 (operated by Northenden depot) and directly opposite was the main garage of Altrincham Coachways - since 1958 a subsidiary of North Western and operating a pleasing variety of Weymann Fanfares, Burlingham Seagulls, Harrington Wayfarer IVs, and Willowbrook Vikings seconded from the parent fleet. They looked rather odd in Altrincham Coachways' blue and cream livery.
A quarter of a mile further on a glimpse might be caught of an Atkinson Alpha saloon crossing the main road at a right angle on North Western's service 103 from Sale to Ashton-on-Mersey, and after another quarter of a mile the 36 passed the premises of Pride of Sale although the garage doors were habitually closed. This annoyed me no end and I swore that some day soon I would return on my own and gain access. I later discovered that only two coaches at most were kept here, with the rest in a yard on a back street, so I would have been disappointed if the doors had been opened.
This discovery came about in the summer of 1962 when my dad got a new job at Petrochemicals' Carrington complex and my family moved to Sale

Neville Mercer


Link to view Part One - Manchester Corporation



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