From Heaton Moor to Ashton under Lyne 1956

From Heaton Moor to Ashton under Lyne 1956

In early 1955 my father started work as a rep for a London based electronics components company, covering the whole of the UK and Ireland except the Home Counties - though visits to London were frequent.

During school holidays I used to travel the country with him and was able to see a much wider range of transport. In any given year I could watch aircraft at Prestwick and London Airport (as Heathrow was then) visit engine sheds as far apart as Stirling and Plymouth, and observe the fleets of companies as far apart as Devon General, Lincolnshire Road Car and Alexander Fife.

Nearer home I was able to visit a wider area of Manchester, although the advent of the company car which replaced a not very reliable Standard Eight meant far less bus travel. Once we moved to Stockport there were weekly visits to the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Ashton under Lyne. Travelling via Reddish and Denton the range of buses to be seen was, by today's standards, diverse.

Between Heaton Moor and Reddish, Stockport's #9 was operated by three of Stockport's all Crossley DD42s, normally from the 1946 and 1947 batches with the odd pre war all Leyland TD7 on the Mauldeth Rd "turnback".

Crossing Wellington Rd would afford a glimpse of Stockport's all Leyland PD2s from the 1949 batch on the #89 and #92. If the turns seen were Manchester vehicles they would be Birchfield Rd's unique to Manchester MCW bodies of the 44xx batch on Daimler CVG6 chassis or the CVG6s with MCW Orion bodies whose fleet numbers followed on. An all Leyland lowheight PD2 of North Western might be seen on the #28 and, if really lucky, single deckers belonging to Trent, East Midland and Midland Red might cross our path at the traffic lights en route to Nottingham, Chesterfield and Birmingham/London.

From Reddish Houldsworth Square to Bulls Head the #17 was the preserve of Stockport's 1951 batch of all Leyland PD2s and their #40 was in the hands of the 1951 batch of all Crossley DD42s. Manchester's #33 would be serviced by that Department's all Crossley DD42s or all Leyland PD2s from the 1953 batch either of which would also appear on the #109. This Leyland batch was the last version of Colin Bailey's standard Leyland design with the rear upper deck emergency window having shallower glass than standard Unique to Manchester was the rear number indicator blind box, housed in an over large bulge on the rear mid outer panel to save obstruction of the narrower than standard staircase.

Turning right at the Bulls Head might afford a glimpse of a front entrance Royal Tiger assigned as the solitary bus working Manchesater's #110 to Dane Bank. At Thornley Park there was a lay-by in which there would always be two buses - either two Salford CVG6s with MCW Phoenix body, sporting a red dome between the upper deck front windows to denote to the bus washer that the vehicles were eight feet wide, two of the Manchester all Leyland PD2s as seen on the #109, or one bus from each department on the #57 joint service to Pendlebury. Similar vehicles would work the other way around Reddish on the #77. The regularity of these observations was soon, though temporarily, to be disturbed at the end of the year by fuel rationing caused by the Suez Crisis.

Turning right under the trolleybus turning circle, on to Manchester Rd, the car radio would have to be switched off as the trolley wires caused havoc with medium and long wave reception. Manchester Rd was the preserve of Manchester's Crossley Empire trolleybuses delivered in 1949 and 1950 working the #210 to Gee Cross, Hyde. Designed specifically for Manchester, the only other examples were a few built for Ashton and Cleethorpes.

Also to be seen were the three axle 30ft long Dominion versions - usually on short workings to Denton which, on Saturdays, ran most of the day in a similar manner to the morning and evening short working services designed to move large numbers of workers. Half day working on Saturday was still a feature of industry in 1956 and Saturday also saw large numbers of people going to and from the city centre on shopping trips.

The Dominions were unique to Manchester and their 66 seat capacity was used to the full. The unions were not happy working the vehicles. Conductors objected to having to deal with 66 passengers and the drivers had objections to the very heavy steering which the Department had tried over the years to alleviate with only moderate success.

The winter of 1956/7 saw these vehicles only regular all day, every day working when, due to the fuel rationing, the #57 and #77 stopped at Piccadilly inbound from Swinton and Pendlebury and the passengers were taken on to Thornley Park by trolleybus operating as the #210x and using turning circle.

Before the crisis the summer of 1956, as in years before and after, would see a number of Sheffield United Tours coaches, mainly AEC Regals with Windover, Burlingham or even Bellhouse Hartwell bodies - some to rather outlandish designs and all with their SUT shields, plenty of chrome trim and wheel embellishers - en route to and from Blackpool, Southport and Rhyl.

The Manchester Leyland bodied PD2s also handled #125 Limited Stop service to Glossop, as did a variety of SHMD green and cream CVG6s with Northern Counties bodies and the odd turn would be handled by one of North Western's 1938/39 K5Gs that had been rebodied by Willowbrook some five or six years previously.

Crown Point, Denton, would see us turn left and the Manchester Crossley Empires would be joined on the #217 to Haughton Green by Ashton's mid 1940s Sunbeam trolleys, originally bodied by Park Royal and Roe. Between 1954 and 1957, the Park Royal bodies were replaced by Roe and Bond (of whom more later). By 1956 the patriotic red white and blue Ashton livery was fast disappearing and, strangely, at least one of the remaining Park Royal vehicles had been repainted in the peacock blue and cream though it was due for rebodying.

Guide Bridge would bring more Manchester Crossley Empires on the #219 and, perhaps the odd all Crossley trolley from the 1940 batch still filling in on a short working to Guide Bridge. Ashton had an identical batch which would operate short workings to Guide Bridge from Ashtom Market place and Stalybridge.

Chester Square, Ashton, would bring in the new BUT/Burlingham Manchester trolleys and the Ashton Crossley Empires working to and from Stalybridge as well as Ashton's brand new BUT/Bond vehicles.

Also to be seen would be Leyland half cab forward and rear entrance single deckers of the Sheffield C (nationalised) Fleet working between Lower Mosely St and Sheffield. These looked old fashioned compared to Yorkshire Traction's Leyland Royal Tigers and Tiger Cubs working the Barnsley service.

The wide area in front of the Fire Station and the back of the Market Hall saw the junction of five roads and served as the town's bus station. A variety of SHMD Daimlers with both East Lancs and Northern Counties bodies could be seen on the joint, with Stockport and Ashton, route #30 to Stockport Edgeley which was also served by Ashton's all Leyland or Crossley bodied PD2s and Stockport's all Leyland PD2s.

Around this area Ashton would be represented by just about every type in the fleet. All Crossley DD42s, Leyland PD1s with Crossley bodies, Roe and Crossley bodied Guy Arabs, all Leyland PD2s, Crossley bodied PD2s to the Park Royal design and the sole surviving 1938 all Leyland TS8, usually operating with either Reserved or Private set on the indicator blind (what was the operational difference?) awaiting its regular duties in ferrying councillors and dignitaries to functions around the town.

There would be at least one Rochdale Weymann bodied Regent on the joint #9 to Rochdale, either a Regent III or a brand new Regent V. If Oldham were represented on the route, one of their many Roe bodied PD2s of various ages would represent the fleet, or if lucky, I might see one of their 1955 MCW bodied PD2s, the all Crossley DD42s of previous years having retreated beyond the Oldham boundary.

Wood's Coaches of Oldham Rd would often run football fan trips to Old Trafford or Maine Rd from an office by the side of the fire station and one of their AEC Reliance coaches would back up their Bedford OB/Duple offerings.

Driving up Penny Meadow, we would pass one or more of the brand new and unique batch of 4 Guy Arabs with Bond bodywork bought specifically for the #14 Mossley service which was a solid uphill slog from the town terminus for around three miles to the Hartshead laneway at Tongue Bottom, the just over a mile from Mossley in the other direction being even steeper.

Bond was a Wythenshawe company that set up its bus building operation after World War 2. It converted a Manchester Leyland TS8 single decker into an airport coach in 1950 and in 1953 finished three Leyland Royal Tiger half deck airport coaches on Burlingham frames for the department. Its biggest bus customer was Ashton Corporation who possessed no less than fourteen of its bodies: two re-bodies on Sunbeam trolleys, eight new BUT trolleys and the four Guy Arabs. I rode on various trolleys and the Guys over the years and all were very well built. The Guys eventually passed to SELNEC.

An uncle had a tailor's shop on George St and I'd sometimes wander down to St Michael's Sq which SHMD used as a terminus for routes to places such as Heyrod and Micklehurst. Their single deck, Northern Counties rear entrance bodied 35 seat Daimler CVD6s would share the square with their centre entrance Atkinsons and the odd appearance of the sole Daimler Freeline, also bodied by Northern Counties but, though longer than its rear entrance cousins, it had only 34 seats due to its standee layout, in a similar manner to the Atkinsons.

Finally, if we were visiting one of the families across Lees Rd, we might come across either an SHMD double deck Daimler or an Oldham PD2 on route #8 which ran through a reasonable chunk of east Ashton on its way between Oldham and Stalybridge but which wasn't regularly served by Ashton's vehicles at that time.

In passing some readers may be interested to read that in 1956 the trip would have been in my father's company car a 1955 Hillman Husky (RYT 564) which lasted until 1957 when it was replaced by a Vauxhall Victor (775 LMY) which started to rot after only a very few months and was replaced quickly by the first of a number of Hillman Minxes (7089 HX). In those days we were regularly cheered by young boys with notebooks who were delighted to see London area registrations. How times have changed.

Phil Blinkhorn
12/2012


18/02/13 - 08:45

Very interesting and it was news to me that Stockport #40 route extended to Reddish at that time.

Orla Nutting


18/02/13 - 11:02

Orla, If I remember rightly the 40 was extended to Reddish Bulls Head on a Saturdays only basis though this is not mentioned in Harry Postlethwaite's book in either his 1938 or 1963 route listings.
I can't be certain as to the period during which the extension operated - it may well have been curtailed due to the Suez Crisis - and my regular weekly visits to Ashton ceased in 1961. All the photos of the 40 show the destination blind "Stockport Gatley" which doesn't help but the distinction between the PD2s on the 17 and the DD42s on the 40 is a vivid memory.

Phil Blinkhorn


18/02/13 - 16:26

Stockport DD42's on the 33 and 33x I could understand. Such a shame we have no shots of a 40 at the Bulls Head or passing Houldsworth Sq.

Orla Nutting


19/02/13 - 06:11

A quick call to a long time friend and Stockport County supporter may well have solved the query re the 40 running through to Reddish. According to him there was a service from Bulls Head to Edgeley, football season only and only when County were at home.
This would run 5 or 6 return trips from lunchtime and again after the match. This would tie in with my journeys to Ashton as my parents were creatures of habit and we would be travelling through Reddish between 13.30 and 14.00.
He recalls the #40 was used, the bus would work through Mersey Sq, turn right in front of the Plaza and right in front of T N Robinsons electrical wholesalers and right again to stop at the usual #40 loading point behind Mersey Sq. It would return the same way, passing the Plaza, climbing to St Petersgate thence via Wellington Rd Sth, Greek St and Castle St. The bus would pretty much empty at Worrall St and my friend assumes it turned at the same point as the #30 Ashton service - though he never rode that far. Unlike other football specials between various points and Edgeley the buses would operate as a stage carriage service throughout and it was rare for older vehicles to be used. As he was in his early teens at the time and used the service and I was 9 years old in 1956 and am relying on memory of what I observed, I would take it that his information confirms my sightings.

Phil Blinkhorn


19/02/13 - 15:18

Well that seems quite credible. Use a route number not otherwise associated with any stage of that route bar the stop at New Street on a stage carriage service and then folks not wanting to go to Edgeley Park won't flag the bus down.
As late as 1969, the SCTD Fares Table lists a special service from Gatley to Edgeley Park (the only football special listed). Doesn't say it carried #40 as the route, presumably on the opposite logic that as it followed the #40 route most of the way it would have confused the Gatley and Cheadle folk if it had!
Why the good folk of Reddish couldn't just hop on a 17 to Mersey Square and catch one of the many Football Specials lined up behind the 17 terminus like the rest of us will have to remain a mystery.

Orla Nutting


19/02/13 - 15:20

My friend called back last night as he had spoken to his brother who was an apprentice at Simon Carves in the late 1950s and is a lifelong Stockport County fan. In those days there was a works service provided by Stockport Corporation to the companies on Bird Hall Lane mornings and evenings, most going to Mersey Sq either via Castle St or Brinksway. My friend's family lived in Reddish and at least one bus worked through to Bulls Head. These works extras used the #40 with the destination blind set to either Cheadle Heath or, where available on the blind, Bird Hall Lane.
Simon Carves and other firms worked until lunchtime on a Saturday.
On a Saturday match day the lunchtime services were heavily augmented. The #17 from Mersey Sq to Bulls Head and vice versa was probably Stockport's most intensive Saturday service. I recall two vehicles waiting in the lay-by at the Bulls Head to turn round as another vehicle occupied the stand on the opposite side of the road, loading to return to the town centre, we having passed a couple more buses inbound to Bulls Head between Houldsworth Sq and the terminus.
In the late 1950s Stockport County had a bigger support base than today, few having their own transport. Average attendances were 8,000 to 12,000 and this put pressure on services both along Castle St and particularly along the Reddish corridor where only the 17 ran into Mersey Sq to connect to services passing Edgeley Park.
According to my friend's brother, on match days the coincidence of a lunchtime finish for the factories on Bird Hall Lane and a 15.00 match kick off led to the works services being augmented both to/from Mersey Sq and to/from Reddish up until kick off time, with the service being replicated after the final whistle. It seems that the buses used route #40. Prior to kick off the buses turned on Bird Hall Lane, allowing workers to have lunch in the works' canteens and travel to the match. After the match the buses set off from the terminus used by the #30 on Edgeley Rd. The continuation to Reddish and back not only carried the football traffic but also took the pressure off the already very busy #17 in the opposite direction to the football traffic.

Phil Blinkhorn


25/02/13 - 17:38

A great description of the days in that area when, as you were stood at the side of the road, pencil and spotter notebook in hand, successive buses were rarely the same operator or livery. And if they were, rarely the same chassis or body manufacturer even from the same operator.
But what Phil hasn’t mentioned here are the independents that I can remember along even only part of the route of that particular journey.
Arriving at Houldsworth Square in Reddish, there was almost always one, if not several, of Melba Motors ex NWRCC Leylands of various types parked outside Melba’s Booking Office in the Square. In particular, I have fond memories of the three Burlingham Seagulls, which I think were LDB 701/702/703, but I’m open to correction. Saturday afternoons would be Football specials to Old Trafford or Maine Road. Sunday afternoons would be the so-called ‘Mystery Tour‘ but which inevitably ended up at a pub in the Buxton or Castleton areas of the Peak District so were never quite as mysterious as Melba would have you believe!
After these, arriving at Reddish Bulls Head on a Saturday there was also a better than even chance that one of Claribel’s usually pristine, dark blue OB’s would be parked outside their Booking Office there having just arrived from or waiting to return to their garage on Hyde Road with a group of United or City supporters. Sundays also offered the chance of a ‘Mystery Tour‘, but as Melba were closer to my parents’ home, we only ever used Claribel to go to Old Trafford so I wonder where I missed the chance to go to on those delightful OB’s?
At both Crown Point and then Guide Bridge, there were usually a couple of Maynes’ coaches hanging around outside those two Booking Offices, but the memory is too dim to remember of what type and for what purpose.
And between Thornley Park and Crown Point, it was also possible to catch the odd NWRCC double deckers (could be almost any type depending on which year we’re speaking of) on the (was it ?) 125 Manchester > Glossop route. Admittedly, NWRCC were common around the Stockport area, but these were the only ones to be seen along Hyde Road so were always considered a good ‘spot‘.
Finally, in Ashton Town Square, both Yelloway and Shearings were almost guaranteed to put in an appearance at some time during the late afternoon/early evening at weekends on their return from day excursions to Blackpool or Morecambe.
Great days!!

Stuart C


26/02/13 - 05:39

I'm not sure that is quite correct to classify Melba Motors as an independent operator as, by the time they acquired the Tiger Cub 'Seagulls, they had been a wholly owned subsidiary of North Western since 1958.
My only experience of travelling on one of Claribel Coaches OB's was on a trip to the school summer camp nr Strines which involved the coach having to ascend a steep hill nr the destination and which proved to much for it for we all had to descend from the coach and follow it's slow progress uphill when it was laden only with our luggage.
One could certainly have seen a NWRCC decker on the 125 to Glossop between Reddish Lane and Crown Point and a rarer turnout on the 33 between Houldsworth Sq and Hyde Rd.

Orla Nutting


26/02/13 - 05:40

Stuart, thanks for your comments and filling in on the independents. Melba Motors' football specials would generally be parked down the side street so seeing them from the car would have been fleeting. I have vague memories of their Foden coach. In 1956 the Seagull bodied Tiger Cubs were still two years away as Melba was not bought By NWRCC until 1958.
Claribel's football specials would have been on their way by the time we reached Bulls Head as they tended to pick up on their way at Gorton and Belle Vue. I do have a vestigial memory of a coach trip on a Claribel Bedford OB to Southport around 1952 - vestigial as I was 5 at the time!
I have no memory at all of Mayne's coaches at Crown Point or Guide Bridge - but that will be my memory at fault. I did actually mention the NWRCC K5Gs on the 125 - and in 1956 if the ride was on NWRCC it would be a free vibro massage on a K5G - but I seem to remember they only had the one vehicle allocated to the route from Glossop depot whilst MCTD and SHMD picked up 3 and 4 turns each.
I remember both Yelloway and Shearings in Ashton town centre, but that was on the return home especially on summer evenings when the returning day excursions would arrive back at around 19.30 to 20.00
Wood's had a reputation for delivering their fans to both Maine Rd and Old Trafford at almost kick off. This was due to many of their patrons being employed by the National Gas and Oil Engine Company which worked through to 13.30 on Saturdays until around 1958 (my grandfather worked for them from 1937 to retirement in 1955 and then part time until 1958). Had Wood's been able to load outside their garage on Oldham Rd - impossible as the building was on the traffic light controlled junction - or had they included a stop at the National's offices - then many supporters would have been spared a 15 minute walk and the fear of missing the start of the match if the traffic was bad.

Phil Blinkhorn


26/02/13 - 11:22

PHIL and ORLA….
Apologies about the Melba confusion – after so long, I really do find it increasingly difficult to tie certain things chronologically or specific events back to specific years….I was born in 1950, so can easily confuse 1956 with 1958 !! We first started using Melba and Claribel to go to Old Trafford in 1956 ( but I wonder on what ? ) and continued to go on day trips on Melba’s Seagulls until my Dad got his first car in 1961. Presumably that’s where my love of them comes from – the trips were usually to Blackpool or Southport, and to Llandudno if it was a good day for me ( longer journey and Crosville ), Morecambe if it was a bad day ( hated the place !! )
The Melba Foden(s)….I can remember that Melba’s fleet was painted blue and silver before becoming blue and white, so presumably I might have been on or seen one of these although I have no specific memories of them….Other than distinct memories of about four blue and silver vehicles which were parked in their garage opposite the Houldsworth Mill without ever moving for at least a couple of school summer holidays with the Seagulls parked overnight on the adjoining wasteland….Do we know what happened to these Fodens ? Did they go on to Bullocks in Cheadle who, I think, had a couple of Fodens on their fleet during the mid / late 50’s ? And were Melba’s Fodens the two-stroke engines that I’ve read about on here and which seem to have been so much admired ? What a pity I might have been on one and can’t recall….
About Claribel….Did they have anything other than their OB’s ? Can’t recall ever seeing anything else, certainly not in Reddish….And any idea of what eventually became of them ?
Maynes….Now these ones I do recall, as we never saw them around Stockport, so probably it was later than 1956….
And finally, the NWRCC vehicles on the 125 route – yes, were always a good ‘ spot ‘ and now I know why if they were not Charles Street’s fleet and so were rarely seen in Mersey Square….
Thanks for putting the years in order for me….

Stuart C


08/03/13 - 09:47

Stuart C - Your comment 'About Claribel' prompted me to search through some PSVC information, and I've come up with a partial fleet list. There don't appear to be enough Bedford OB's in the list, which is the feature I remember most about the firm. However, most of my information relates to vehicles new to the company, so maybe they bought a number second hand.

 

Reg

Vehicle

Body

In

New

Out

Note

VM 7910 Mly C31R /29 /29 1/37  
JA 2459 AEC Rl   ? /32 ? rebodied TU FC33F 9/47
XJ 6507 Ds Lt C32R 4/33 4/33 12/59 rebodied TU C33F /47
XJ 6781 Ds Lt DU C32 4/33 4/33 9/57 rebodied TU C33F 6/47
AND 549 Ds Lt DU C32 /34 /34 ?  
BNB 884 Ds Lt DU C32 3/35 3/35 12/40  
CNC 558 Ds Arrow Minor C26F 4/36 4/36 8/51  
CND 248 Ds Arrow MrReall C26F 5/36 5/36 11/51  
DNA 790 Ds Lt Du C35F 2/37 2/37 5/62 full front by TU 4/54
EVM 427 Ds Lt Du C35F 7/38 7/38 12/56 rebodied by ? C33F /48
GND 639 Bd OWB SMT B32F 2/43 2/43 /44  
GND 912 Bd OWB SMT B32F 12/42 12/42 /44  
GND 933 Bd OWB B32F /43 /43 5/61 rebodied TU C27F /47
GND 967 Bd OWB B32F /43 /43 11/61 rebodied TU C27F /47
HNE 932 Cr Cdo C29F 4/47 4/47 10/55  
HVM 97 Bd OB DU C29F /47 /47 5/64  
JNE 878 Bd OB TU C27F 8/48 8/48 9/62  
CCB 150 Bd OB TU FC27F 3/50 2/52 1/67  
MNB 916 Bd SB Du C33F /51 /51 8/65  
2444 ND Fd 570E Du C41F 7/61 1/65 12/68  
3206 VR An VT21L DN C41F 7/63 7/63 /69  
 

Claribel's licences were acquired by Mayne in 1967, though judging by the withdrawal dates above, Claribel continued to operate, presumably in the private hire business, for another couple of years.

David Williamson

 


 

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