Stockport Corporation Transport Fleet 1958-1969

Stockport Corporation Transport Fleet 1958-1969

At the start of 1958 Stockport Corporation's transport undertaking was in a relatively healthy state. Unlike its large neighbour, Manchester, it had not suffered too greatly from public ire at the ever rising cost of fares as it had been able to keep fares relatively stable (apart from a halfpenny increase on all fares at weekends and outside rush hours on weekdays during the Suez crisis) and, having bought no new vehicles since 1951 it had had no major capital expenditure to recoup.

As everywhere else, wages were starting to rise but maintenance costs were kept low and the maximum life was extracted from the fleet- by means of a programme of work that kept vehicles in pristine condition through constant monitoring and immediate attention to problems as they arose.

The fleet at the start of the year consisted of :

2 all Leyland TD3 double deckers from 1934 - to be withdrawn in 1958
4 all Leyland TD4c double deckers from 1935 - 3 to be withdrawn in 1958, 1 in 1959
7 all Leyland TD4c double deckers from 1936 - 2 to be withdrawn in 1958, 5 in 1960
10

Leyland TS7 single deckers with English Electric bodies from 1936 - 2 to be withdrawn in 1959, the rest in 1962/63

4

all Leyland TD4c double deckers from 1937 - to be withdrawn in 1960

10

Leyland TS8 single deckers with English Electric bodies from 1937 - 9 to be withdrawn in 1962, one in 1963

3 all Leyland TD7 double deckers from 1940 - one to be withdrawn in 1962, 2 in 1963
2 all Crossley Mancunian double deckers from 1941 - to be withdrawn in 1958
2 Guy Arab double deckers with Massey bodywork from 1943 - 1 to be withdrawn in 1963, one in 1964
8 Guy Arab double deckers with Massey bodywork from 1944 - 5 to be withdrawn in 1963, 3 in 1964
6 Guy Arab double deckers with Massey bodywork from 1945 - 2 to be withdrawn in 1963, 4 in 1964
18 all Crossley DD42 double deckers from 1946 - 1 to be withdrawn in 1962, 3 in 1964, 10 in 1965, 1 in 1966 and 3 in 1967
5 all Crossley DD42 double deckers from 1947 - all withdrawn in 1967
20 all Crossley DD42 double deckers from 1948 - 9 withdrawn in 1965, 1in 1967
25

all Leyland PD2 double deckers from 1949 - 21 withdrawn in 1968, 4 in 1969

24 all Leyland PD2 double deckers from 1951 - 3 withdrawn 1968, 1 converted to tree lopper 1969 and then passed to SELNEC, 8 withdrawn 1969, 12 passed to SELNEC
24

all Crossley D042 double deckers from 1951 - 19 withdrawn in 1967, 5 withdrawn 1968

All one hundred and seventy four vehicles were smartly turned out in the red and off white colour scheme, (the white tended to change shade after exposure to light and washing), lined out with brown (on the Leyland single deckers there was a brown "streamline" stripe). A few of the Massey bodied Guy Arabs were waiting for upgrading. None were ever rebodied and at least one still had utility slatted wooden seats and all post war double deckers had an early form of strip bell on both decks.

1958 was to see the start of a modernisation programme - albeit extremely conservative in nature - that was to run through to 1969 and ended in controversy that eventually, literally, burned itself out.

The nine double deck vehicles to be withdrawn in 1958 were to be replaced by ten new H33/28R Leyland PD2/30 double deckers. These were to have Crossley bodies - Crossley were still manufacturing what were basically Park Royal bodies at Errwood Rd - and would include the last Crossley body to be built.

The batch was originally numbered 337-346, following on from 333-335, Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1/1 single deckers with Crossley bodywork which was a melange of Park Royal, Crossley and some very Stockport features.

The double deckers arrived in ones and twos and, during delivery, it was decided that the single deckers, three of which had already arrived, would be re-numbered 400-402, the last outstanding being delivered as 403. These were put to work on the 75 and various rush hour duplicates of double deck routes as well as schools services but did not displace any of the pre war single deckers from the fleet.

The new double deckers were now renumbered. For some reason lost in history, 337-342 kept their numbers but the vehicles delivered as 343-346 became 333-336 - thus 336 (NDB 369) bore the last Crossley body ever built. As mentioned, the body was basically a Park Royal design and similar vehicles were delivered as either Park Royal or Crossley to a wide range of operators including Southdown, East Kent, Aberdeen and, more locally Oldham, Ashton, Preston and Darwen.

The body style was of either four or five bay construction - Stockport, all its previous (and for that matter later) double deckers being five bay construction, decided on the four bay style. Unlike its larger neighbour, the Department embraced the tin front and the result was a rather heavy looking vehicle - and a noisy one too as all seemed to have a booming exhaust note. The last few vehicles got caught up in a rapid reduction in staff at Crossley's as people took new jobs, so much so that they were moved the couple of miles to Stockport's Mersey Square workshop where they were finished by the department's own staff.

Like Manchester, Stockport specified rear wheel trim discs - which the vehicles retained until just before the days of SELNEC- unlike Manchester it discarded the front wheel nut guards giving the buses a slightly unfinished look.

Both the single and double deck deliveries were equipped with wind down windows and a drip and draught strip was added to the bodies running the full length of window bays giving the vehicles a "colonial" look. They were fitted with heaters from new - something appreciated by passengers as yet unused to such comforts when travelling with most local operators.

All the vehicles eventually passed to SELNEC, some of the double deckers were moved to Oldham to replace earlier vehicles and ran alongside the remaining one year older example from that fleet which was observed to be in a poor state compared to its southern brothers, the remainder of the Oldham examples having been put off the road by the Ministry's inspectors.

Stockport was one of the few departments not to re-body its utility built vehicles. One of the Massey bodied Guy Arabs from the first batch, 210, received the full livery during its first post war overhaul in around 1950, with the correct proportions of red and white and the brown lining out plus upholstered seats. It retained these features when next overhauled in 1957.

The remaining Guys were to have been similarly treated but this was never achieved and they were repainted without the white, lined out in brown, beneath the windows on both decks, the red being separated from the white window surrounds by a single brown line. All were painted again in 1957/8, had any rot problems dealt with, and all had acquired upholstered seats by the end of 1958. None gained any more ventilation than then two drop windows per deck, though the 1945 batch had opening top lights in the front upper deck windows.

A variety of treatments came to be applied to the split platform window on the rear lower deck. Some had the offside pane of the pair painted out, some in black, some in white, others had the top third painted out - all but the last batch had the vehicle registration in the top of the offside pane, the registration on 219-224 being in a recess in the bottom offside rear panel with a stop/running light and, by 1958, a reflector.

After seven years without a purchase and the demise of Crossley body building at Errwood Rd, Stockport had no "natural" body supplier. With 10 double deckers to be replaced in 1959/60 an order placement was urgently required and it was no surprise that the order placed was a repeat of the 1958 order for more PD2/30s. What was a real shock was the body supplier - Longwell Green. Longwell Green is a suburb of Bristol and the bodybuilder of that name, based in the suburb, had an excellent reputation as a builder of van bodies and as a supplier of sturdy bodies for the Leylands, Guys and AECs of a variety of transport undertakings in South Wales - the biggest user being Newport. The H32/28R bodies purchased were the standard five bay product, with the Leyland "tin front" but lacking the curved, arch like bottom of the upper deck over the cab and radiator, so distinctive of Newport's vehicles.

I'd seen some of the South Wales operators' vehicles in various towns on my travels and had noticed the similarity of the design to that produced by Burlingham for Manchester. It seems that Stockport's Manager, Eric Booth Baxter, had been very much taken by Manchester's modifications to the Burlingham product and had wanted similar, only to be thwarted by Burlingham's withdrawal from the bus market. The Longwell Green product was the next best thing and proved to be an excellent, if one time only, purchase.

Though of exactly the same dimensions, when placed next to the Crossley bodied PD2s, the new buses somehow looked petite. They were finished with rear wheel trims but the front wheel nut guard rings were removed on delivery.

The batch also had heaters and wind down windows but without the full length drip/draught strips having instead small individual strips over the opening bays. This made for a much neater appearance but the old order returned with the next batch of PD2s that arrived in 1962.

The Longwell Greens were the last vehicles delivered in the old Stockport livery with brown lining out, the original Stockport Coat of Arms and a circular "belt" on the lower rear panels containing the words Stockport Corporation with the Coat of Arms in the space at the centre of the circle. Some vehicles in the fleet had their fleet number above the Coat of Arms, inside the "belt", others had it in the white area below the rear platform window between the two brown lines of paint that formed the lining out.

In 1960 the County Borough was granted a modified Coat of Arms and the decision was taken to replace the old arms, also carried centrally on the lower deck side panels, as soon as possible. At about the same time costs were starting to catch up with the Department and the Council decided to allow advertising on its vehicles. As the lower rear panels were prime advertising space and thus prime revenue generating territory, the belt had to go and the fleet number had to be moved.

All vehicles would require re-finishing, at least on the lower decks, and when they received this attention they also had the brown lining out replaced by black - to give a more "modern" appearance - though the "streamline" flashes on the pre war single deckers were left brown.

The position of the rear fleet number gave rise to some angst. The front and rear numbers had always been in gold, the front numbers appearing under the driver's windscreen. These stayed put - appearing on the red "tin front" on the 1958 and 1960 batches - but the rear number was in for a change. Initially, on vehicles where it was in the white area below the platform window, it remained in place. All other vehicles received new number transfers in red and these were placed centrally in the white area above the platform window - apart from on the Longwell Green bodies where they were offset to the offside of the vehicles as the central position immediately above the window was occupied by a route number indicator.

The Longwell Green PD2s went on to serve with SELNEC- again a number saw service in Oldham. Numbered 343-352 they must rank as some of the most unusual vehicles to operate on stage carriage services in the Manchester area in the days of municipal transport.

As stated before, in 1958 Stockport started on a course of modernisation, albeit conservatively. 1962 saw the start of the nearest Stockport got to standardisation in the nearly 70 years of running a tram and bus fleet.

PD2s (PD2A/30s) were again specified but another body builder was granted the order for 10 H32/28R bodies - this time it was East Lancashire of Blackburn. Their standard, rear entrance double deck body received Stockport's wind down windows, full length drip/draught strips, heaters, rear wheel trims and the latest version of the colour scheme which now included a gold rear fleet number above the rear platform window - and this was to become standard throughout the fleet.

Like the Longwell Green bodies the seating capacity was 60, as opposed to 61 on the Crossley bodies, but the major and most noticeable difference to most people was the disappearance of the "tin front" replaced by the much more stylish "St Helens" style of concealed radiator and bonnet.

St Helens Transport Department, like Manchester, didn't like the "tin front" but, unlike the city, didn't like exposed radiators either so, in 1959, it developed its own design which Leyland later adopted. As the design had some resemblance to the latest Leyland "Vista" lorry cab no doubt the powers that be in Leyland decided that a common look between the bus and truck divisions would be no bad thing - even though they shared the lorry cab design with Dodge!

953-962 continued the interior colour scheme of dark lower panels, dark wood Formica type window surrounds and white ceilings - they were to be the last like this.

Sometime in 1961 PD2/30 333 was withdrawn from traffic and entered Mersey Sq works, next to the fire station, where it lingered for some months. I visited the works during the period and found that someone had had the bright idea of changing the braking system to air brakes. This had hit a number of major snags and had been abandoned (did the bus ever receive air brakes and were they tried out on the road?) and the original vacuum brakes were restored. As a memento of its time in the works it had received different, smaller, rear lights to the rest of the batch and its rear wheel trims were painted all red instead of red and silver.

The next batch of buses arrived in 1963 almost exactly as the previous batch - except room had been found on the top deck for 4 more seats, the ceilings were now a pastel shade of green (which actually worked well with the wood trim and was a standard until the end of the department), florescent lights had replaced tungsten interior bulbs and the registrations - YDB 1 to YDB 10 matched the fleet numbers, the fleet number sequence was started again at 1 - something that happened to another Stockport based fleet at exactly the same time with a batch registered YJA 1 and upwards, as we shall see in a later article. As with all the batches from 1958, these buses eventually passed to SELNEC.

The 1964 batch of 15 PD2s (11-25) were PD2/40s with exposed radiators and, again, were East Lancashire H36/28R which was to be the standard until 1968. An innovation with this batch was translucent upper deck ceilings yielding much more light on the upper deck and giving a modern feel to a very traditional and conservative design. 1965 saw another repeat order of 15 (26-40) these having minor detail changes including repeater flashing indicators on the front wings - most of which got damaged in traffic and were eventually removed.

By 1966 only Leigh, Ramsbottom and Stockport of all the municipalities that were to form SELNEC had not tried (or were awaiting) a batch of rear engined double deckers.

Stockport was hit hard by the withdrawal of Crossley spare parts by ACV, having to withdraw vehicles early so a sizeable order was expected for 1966 and this surely would be the time to really modernise - but no buses appeared.

In the first half of 1967 no less than 30 of the now standard PD2/40s with East Lancashire 64 seat bodies rear platform bodies appeared. The only discernable difference from the previous two batches was the deletion of the body side traffic indicators in favour of round flashers, hung from just above the cab roof level a la London Transport - this being an East Lancs standard from 1966 onwards. There were minor finishing differences between 41-55 and 56-70 and the reason became clear when the maker's plate, on the stair bulkhead was read.

The first batch came from East Lancashire's Blackburn works, the second from that company's Sheffield based subsidiary - Neepsend. Delays at Leyland had meant late delivery of the first batch of chassis which should have been delivered late in 1966. When the second batch were delivered hard on the heels of the first, the Blackburn bodybuilder couldn't cope (all their vehicles were pretty much hand built - each to each customer's precise specification and the man hours and numbers employed made for slow building) so the second batch of chassis were sent across the Pennines.

1968 saw the standardisation "stretched" in as much as Stockport ordered its first 30 foot long double deckers, PD3/14s with 70 seat bodies (71-85). By this time Leigh had been taking forward entrance front engined buses for some years and even Ramsbottom had forward entrance PD3s. But not Stockport.

Everything was almost exactly as before - except with a 2 foot 6 inch stretch. The only other differences were the deletion of the rear wheel trim discs - like elsewhere they caused problems for the engineers in terms of access to the wheel nuts and, more seriously, overheating brakes; the inclusion of an emergency exit in the first bay behind the cab on the offside - a mandatory requirement on 30 foot long double deckers and, for the first time at Stockport, retention of the front wheel nut guard rings as these were of the pattern used on the Atlantean and the integral hub cap formed an oil seal.

Also taken into stock were 5 Leyland PSU4/1R Leopard single deckers (404-408) front entrance and centre exit seating 43. These replaced the Tiger Cubs on all day service on the #75 and the double decker on the #9 Mauldeth Rd turnbacks. Finished internally in the same scheme as the double deckers, the East Lancashire bodies, similar to those supplied to Merthyr Tydfil and Rossendale, were painted in a new overall off white scheme with a deep red band beneath the windows. The Tiger Cubs were retained and passed to SELNEC.

The year also saw the closure of Heaton Lane depot, following the earlier closure of the Mersey Square works when the Merseyway shopping centre was built in 1965/66. A new works and depot was built at Daw Bank and opened in 1968.

1969 was the last year of the Department. On hand over to SELNEC 145 vehicles were in stock, most less than 12 years old and in such good condition that some, including 1951 vintage PD2s, were able to be transferred to Stalybridge and Oldham to replace vehicles that needed urgent attention.

The last vehicles delivered were again PD3/14s. This time the batch had some changes. Again East Lancashire rear entrance 30 foot bodies were specified seating 70. This time, however, the wind down windows had gone -as had the drip/draught strips, ventilation being provided by sliding windows giving the vehicles a cleaner appearance. 91 (from the batch 86-91) was the last rear platform double decker registered in the UK.

The second half of the delivery, at last, showed a touch of modernity being 70 seat forward entrance double deckers (92-97) with jack knife front doors and were otherwise finished as the rear entrance vehicles. They were almost identical to the last two Ramsbottom vehicles delivered, the second of which was Leyland's last half cab double decker - ever.

November 1st 1969 saw SELNEC take over the operation of the bus fleet along with those of Ashton, Bolton, Bury, Leigh, Manchester, Oldham, Ramsbottom, Rochdale, Salford and SHMD. But the Stockport Corporation Transport Committee had not yet had its final say. SELNEC was inheriting no less than 2,526 buses, the bulk being Leylands and Daimlers due to the standardisation of the Manchester fleet, but AEC, Albion, Bedford, Bristol, Dennis and Guy were all represented and the mix of bodybuilders was, to the least, wide.

Standardisation was the policy espoused by Peter House and it had become clear in the year or so between the 1968 Transport Act and the start of operations that Leyland and Daimler would be the chosen chassis carrying new double deck standard bodies by Park Royal and Northern Counties.

There were, of course, a good number of Manchester Mancunians on order with deliveries due until April 1972, not to mention those ordered by Salford, but these had been factored in and, in any case were on Leyland and Daimler chassis and could be kept, if required, at former Manchester and Salford depots. Bolton had some East Lancs bodied Atlanteans, Oldham some from Roe, which were delivered post the take over but nothing out of the ordinary was due for delivery - until Stockport had its final say.

There were politicians on the Transport Committee who weren't too pleased to be losing their bus operation which had served the town well. SELNEC was very much seen as a Manchester takeover and Stockport was still in Cheshire!

As it was empowered to do, the Transport Committee tendered for new vehicles in the early part of 1969. With front engined buses now out of production Leyland Atlanteans were the likely contenders, with East Lancashire bodies. No big problem there then, especially as Bolton, Bury and Oldham had a wide selection.

It was not in the mind of the Committee to aid SELNEC however and, whilst they stayed loyal to East Lancashire for the bodies, they ordered Bristol VRTs (of which there were none in the combined fleets) with Gardner engines - for which Daw Bank had no tooling or experience beyond the very different wartime engines in the Guy Arabs.

They were "disappointed" to find the vehicles wouldn't be ready for delivery in red and off white as, due to production delays they would not arrive until late April/early May 1970. Allocated fleet numbers 98-107, SELNEC had little option but to take the order on board and allocated fleet numbers 5898-5907.

I had business dealings with East Lancs at the time and saw the first vehicle, complete in SELNEC colours, looking not unlike the 1969 Bury Atlanteans and Fleetlines that had been repainted in SELNEC colours. A week after I saw it, it and the rest of the order was destroyed by the fire which gutted the East Lancs premises.

No doubt there were sighs of relief in Peter House and, perhaps, at Daw Bank which had to wait a while longer for its first VRTs which came from a North Western order, which was also delivered new in SELNEC colours, with very far from SELNEC standard ECW bodies.

As if to emphasise just how old fashioned Stockport's fleet had been, the Southern Division of SELNEC allocated some 1966 Atlanteans to Daw Bank from day one - a case of Manchester showing Stockport what it had been missing.

There is no doubt the Corporation Transport Department with its local flavour, low fares and many well known crews was badly missed by many of its patrons. Whilst it may have tried to upset the SELNEC vehicle applecart by ordering the Bristols, the PTE did well out of Stockport in terms of inheriting a brand new garage and works, a modern, well maintained, almost standardised fleet, albeit to an outdated layout and a fleet which was able to be reallocated to cover problems found within the fleets of Oldham and SHMD.

Phil Blinkhorn
04/2013


06/04/13 - 07:47

An interesting article from Phil B on the Stockport fleet.
I would however dispute his final statement about Stockport vehicles being sent to Oldham (in particular) to cover problems found with the fleet.
At the SELNEC takeover Oldham did not have any more of a problem than the other constituents of the new organisation.
I think you will find that Stockport 'crew' operated vehicles were exchanged with Oldham to release OMO buses to speed up OMO conversion at Stockport.

Stephen Howarth


07/04/13 - 07:52

I always think that it's a misnomer to call Stockport Transport Dept conservative. It's rather that they were Thrifty with a capital T. They weren't enamoured by rear engine deckers in the '60's because they weren't as reliable as half-cabs. Had they been they might have bought some sooner but the strategy was to obtain a standardised economical fleet, simple to maintain exceedingly well and present as a credit to the Borough whilst keeping fares as low as possible and still achieving a profit.
There were still large bus operations around Manchester placing half cabs into service in 1967 long after they had bought rear engine deckers, Salford and LUT to name but two. In the scale of things Stockport were only 18 months behind.
But as for thrift, not for Stockport was the provision of bus shelters...these were few and far between even in Mersey Sq, nor timetables. I don't know when the last one was published but I recall asking at the inspectors hut in Mersey Sq were I might obtain one and got exactly the same answer as Roger Davies reported once in Classic Bus ..'aven't add one of them for years'. Bus stops too could be absent. I don't think that the terminus of the #75 at Green End ever had one (perhaps because it lay in Manchester who had no financial interest in the route?).
Speaking which route the Leopard intake of 1968 was not to replace Tiger Cubs as Phil Blinkhorn suggest as the route had converted full time to double deckers in 1963 (for reasons that have never been very clear) and the Leopards only operated on it in lightly trafficked periods. They were more likely to be found on the routes 23, 37 and 39.
It's doubtful if some Stockport buses even bore the word STOCKPORT in gold lettering under the Coat of Arms as this was only introduced after Frank Brimelow departed and whilst new vehicles thereafter received it many of the older fleet only got it following a repaint and some never received it. That probably made Stockport the only municipal operator of vehicles not to bear the borough's name except in the legal lettering once the garters had been removed.

Orla Nutting


07/04/13 - 10:58

Due to a family illness I'm travelling at the moment so have no access to my books, notes etc., so I'll answer most of the points raised above when I return home on Monday.
As regards the Leopards and route #75 Orla and I have rehearsed this elsewhere. Whilst it is correct that the route was converted to double deckers, there was always one single decker on the route throughout the day, in the evenings this was sometimes increased to 2 (the working required 3 vehicles) and on Sundays the working was often all single deckers, particularly in the winter.
Once the Leopards arrived the Tiger Cubs rarely, if ever, appeared and there is photographic proof in publications and on the Net of the Leopards on the route.
As regards timetables, the last one I recall seeing was in Stockport Central Library in 1962 which had a very accurate artists impression of one of the last batch of the all Crossley DD42s on the cover

Phil Blinkhorn


07/04/13 - 11:59

Doncaster Corporation Transport only ever had the county borough coat of arms for most of its existence until the "new look" by the art students.

Joe


08/04/13 - 08:17

Yes, 1962 sounds about right for the last published timetable. Astonishing really given the significant number of new routes that the Corporation introduced between 1967 and 1969.
My experience of the 75, which was my local bus to Stockport and which I used every week, was never to have travelled on a single decker in the evening once the PD2's were deployed on it. But all things are possible and I have photograph of a DD42 in Mersey Sq on the route and I never saw one of those on it either!

Orla Nutting


08/04/13 - 08:18

Other coat-of-arms-only municipals include Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool (late 50s and early 60s), Middlesbrough, Preston, and probably some more.
A fascinating article on Stockport. I hadn't been aware of the general longevity of the fleet, with such a high proportion lasting for up to 20 years. One does wonder whether the cost of maintaining vehicles of this age, which included the cost of recertification at decreasing intervals, offset a lot of the cost of purchasing new. My erstwhile local operator, Birkenhead, was another that could have been considered conservative, but had a policy of replacing vehicles after a 15 year life, at a pretty well consistent 15 vehicles each year going out and coming in. From the little I saw of the Stockport fleet, it cetainly appeared well looked after, as was the Birkenhead fleet. Something to do with the presence of Frank Brimelow at both, Perhaps?

Alan Murray-Rust


08/04/13 - 08:18

On the mention of the lack of bus stops at Stockport I recall that at Grimsby-Cleethorpes some bus stops were marked on the ground.

Philip Carlton


08/04/13 - 12:39

Regarding Stephen's point on the transfer of Stockport's vehicles to Oldham, Harry Postlethwaite in his monograph on Stockport Corporation, talking about Stockport's legacy, states "...and partly through the dispersal of older Leylands to SHMD and Oldham helping out with vehicle shortages as appropriate".
Stewart Brown, in Greater Manchester Buses points out that PD2 302 was transferred to Oldham and received the Oldham livery, being first renumbered 5202 and then 5922. Of the 1963 batch of PD2s, originally Stockport's 1-10, six went to Oldham and were replaced with Atlanteans from Manchester plus Oldham's erstwhile 127 and 138. The Stockport PD2s replaced time expired pre 1952 Titans. After 1970 more Stockport Titans, both PD2s and PD3s appeared in Oldham in 1971-1974 as the ex Bolton and Sheffield PD2s and Oldham's own mid to late 1950s PD2s were withdrawn.
From my own observations at the time, Oldham's fleet, although in much better health than in the mid 1960s, had the problem of carrying a proportionately larger number of older vehicles than the Southern Division's average and moves were made to remove as many of the older and potentially problematic vehicles as soon as possible.
Much was made at the time of the standard of the Stockport all Leyland PD2s compared to not only the Oldham fleet but also that of the SHMD fleet.
The Coat of Arms saga is an interesting story. During the life of the Transport Department, the town was granted no less than two changes of Coats of Arms. The original version appeared on motor buses surrounded in various layouts by the words Stockport Corporation Tramways. A simplified version of the Coat of Arms appeared in the 1930s. On double deckers the Arms appeared fairly low on the mid lower deck panel on each side with the words Stockport Corporation above in large letters, taking up almost three and a half panels. On single deckers only the revised Arms appeared.
Sometime in/after 1939, all the fleet appeared with only the Arms and this held true until the final version of the Arms appeared. Now it gets complicated!
When the new Arms were applied, and this was done quite quickly, the previous practice of no titling was maintained. This also obtained with almost all new PD2 deliveries but, for some reason, most if not all, of the Neepsend bodied 1967 deliveries had the single word Stockport beneath the Arms on delivery, the East Lancs bodied half of the order didn't but many attained the wording shortly thereafter.
The situation the becomes even more patchy. There is a picture of 1951 PD2 299 taken in August 1970, still in full Stockport livery, with the word Stockport discernible beneath the Arms whilst most of the batch continued without. 1960 delivered PD2 343 is similarly adorned when photographed in 1968 as is newly delivered PD3 75 in March that year.
1951 PD2 288 is without the tile when photographed in 1966, Crossley DD42, 322, of the same age and photographed the same date, has the title.
The Leopards were delivered without the title though they attained it later and the last batch of PD3s, both rear and forward entrance were delivered sans title though it was soon added.
Other members of batches of 1960s PD2s received the title almost on an ad hoc basis either on repainting or just when the works had a moment to do the job. From photo evidence and memory it looks likely that something between one half and two thirds of the fleet on integration into SELNEC had received the title under the Coat of Arms. Anyone looking at contemporary pictures for the title is well advised to use a magnifying glass as, unless the picture is of good resolution and full side on, the title is small, in gold on red and doesn't show up well in either B+W or colour.

To answer one or two other points:
Orla's point about thrift and conservatism is interesting. It seems that there was a virtuous circle comprised of both.
As a young lad and a teenager I used to have my hair cut by Joe Eaton, a Conservative Councillor and member of the Transport Committee. Short back and sides being the order of the day, visits were frequent and he soon got to know of my interest and I got to know a great deal. When Manchester eventually got its Atlanteans into service we discussed the possibility of Stockport obtaining some of its own. From his remarks it was evident that there would be no venture into anything "new fangled" under the then Transport Committee. The political balance and membership of the Committee changed a number of times between 1958 and 1969 but the aims never changed: "Buy the best that you know works, get the most out of it before you dispose of it and don't waste money on untried ideas. Most importantly, keep the fares down".
The General Managers appointed reflected this and Frank Brimelow's extremely short tenure raises an interesting and unanswered point. It was he who had the ceilings of the 1963 and subsequent batches of PD2s changed to green, ordered translucent ceilings for the 1964 batch and onwards and who drew up the replacement plan for the fleet up until 1967/8. Whilst he went on to order very similar vehicles at Birkenhead, there has been a suspicion in some quarters that even those minor touches of modernity were too much for some of the Stockport Members and he moved on rather than have to fight battles in a rapidly changing environment.
Another sidelight on the frugality of the Department concerns its ticket machines. TIM roll ticket machines had been used for many years utilising the thinnest of white paper! Some machines in use from the mid 1930s were still in daily use 30 years later and when it was decided to try an Almex machine in 1963/4, the manufacturer had to supply the (yes, just one) machine with all its tickets free of charge for a year.
Going back to Frank Brimelow, as stated, his tenure at Stockport was short and whilst he had a reputation for keeping a very smart fleet, this had been the order of the day at Stockport from the Department's beginnings so his reputation probably helped get him the job as the Committee would have been looking for someone to maintain the standard expected.

Phil Blinkhorn


10/04/13 - 06:42

I have to say, as usual a very well written and informative piece by Phil Blinkhorn and, even more in his replies. Very well done Phil, I admire anyone who can put that amount of information, even though the years between are many.

David J Henighan


10/04/13 - 09:29

Thanks for your kind comments David.

Phil Blinkhorn


11/04/13 - 08:01

Whilst not wanting to continue the debate about Stockport buses going to Oldham, I will always support my 'beloved' OCPTD (after all they gave me my first job in Public Transport which lasted for 43 great years), and whilst it had it faults it was not the worst constituent operator when SELNEC was formed.
Anyway Phil's excellent article makes mention of Stockport 302 - EDB 556 going to Oldham and being renumbered 5202 and receiving Oldham livery. Then later being renumbered again to 5922.
Well here it is in its 2 guises.

Stephen Howarth


11/04/13 - 12:12

Great photos Stephen, thanks for posting.

Phil Blinkhorn


04/02/14 - 08:27

A very interesting piece by Phil Blinkhorn on Stockport Corporation, I can't believe I've only just seen it! A few points I can perhaps contribute on:
As regards timetables, at one time the dept. was very prolific - I have copies dated both January 1960 and August 1960! The last one I can find is July 1963 but I've got a nagging feeling at one time I had a newer one. I've certainly got timetable leaflets for a May 1967 service revision.
I can vouch for the lack of shelters - our local route the 23 had none on Woodsmoor Lane (and in 2014 there are still none). We lived on the route one stop from the terminus so if it was raining the procedure was to wait in the house till we saw the bus go down to Crossway then dash out and catch it on its way back. I'm sure the Manchester Atlanteans didn't come to Daw Bank from "day one" - I think they were transferred for the first OMO conversion in November 1970 along with several brand-new Oldham Atlanteans, an older pair of Oldham PDRs including one in pommard and cream, and at the same time the Tiger Cubs and Leopards were used OMO for the first time - fareboxes of course, no tickets. The 23 was in the first lot of OMO conversions. And if the Atlanteans had been to show Stockport what they'd been missing, they hadn't been missing much - they were vastly inferior to the PDs!
Wasn't the Green End route double-decked following some tree-cutting? Can't see any other reason it would be single-deck (unlike Bird Hall Lane).
Interesting too the Brimelow Birkenhead/Stockport connection: PD2s can sound notoriously different between operators (or even different batches within operators - the NDBs were certainly very noisy) but on my first visit to Birkenhead probably as an 8 year old I remember noticing their PD2s sounded exactly like our PD2/40s so I assume Mr Brimelow specified the same sort of air filters or something!

Photo of PD3 on Woodsmoor Lane attached - this was just after the SELNEC Cheshire merger and all kinds of odd workings seemed to turn up - the 23/303 had been nominally OMO for several years by then.

Michael Keeley


04/02/14 - 17:08

Michael, the Manchester Atlanteans, if they didn't appear on day one were certainly in service on the #9 from the first few weeks of SELNEC. Wider use was of course made of these after OMO came in but on the #9 they were initially crew operated. I lived just off Mauldeth Rd so saw them from the first day in service on the route. Yo are dead right about the exhaust note of the NDB reg PD2/40s.

Phil Blinkhorn


05/02/14 - 06:17

Further to Michael's comments, the NDB registered PD2s were arrived some years before Frank Brimelow and the next batch with the Longwell Green bodies were much quieter. The 75 was converted after much tree cutting, the single deck restriction has always been put down to the angle on a turning into or out of Hillgate (I forget which at present and as I'm in Hong Kong I can't check) but unless the council changed the camber of the road surface to enable double decker use within tilt limits, the "reason" seems odd.

Phil Blinkhorn


05/02/14 - 06:19

The reason for the change from single to double deck operation on route #75 in 1963 has never been entirely clear.
In an article for 'Classic Bus' last year Mike Eyre said that the change had become possible following tree cutting on the route. It's difficult to understand why this would have taken so many years to come about. I'm very familiar with route from Green End to the centre of Stockport and can recall no significant restriction of that section by overgrown trees. Conceivably, it may have been a problem at the Offerton end.
However, in the Super Prestige 'Stockport Corporation' book the reason given for the switch is that there had been a rethink of previous concerns about the tilt of the turn at the junction of Wellington Road(sic) and Middle Hillgate which had previously restricted the route to single deckers (new manager, Frank Brimelow, new thinking?). In fact the turning is from Wellington Street into Middle Hillgate and doesn't appear to pose any particular difficulty.

Orla Nutting


05/02/14 - 06:20

Ah - living the "other side" it was of course possible never to see the 9 as it was the only SCTD service which didn't go into the town centre. But were the 3800s still in Manchester livery when first transferred? I don't remember seeing anything in orange/white till about March/April 1970, the first vehicles I think being the airport Bedford VALs for the Trans Lancs Express, several months after the formation of SELNEC (1st Nov 1969).
Once the SELNEC Standards started to arrive of course the ex Manchester Atlanteans became disliked as OMO buses and gradually went onto crew work - I did a week's work experience at Daw Bank in 1974 and even then heard OMO drivers complaining when allocated one.

Michael Keeley


05/02/14 - 11:04

The initial batch of Atlanteans transferred to Stockport were in Manchester livery. I recall the shock of seeing them deployed on route #24 when waiting for a #75 in Mersey Sq.very early after the creation of SELNEC.
There's a picture of former MCT 3822 in SELNEC Southern livery on page 302 of 'The Manchester Bus' on #9 outside Parrs Wood garage in 1972. This livery and route also featured on the EFE model.

Orla Nutting


07/02/14 - 06:35

I realise I am reminiscing outside the time period of the original article, but there were so many surprises in the early days of SELNEC with unusual vehicles being transferred often for short periods - in early 1972 some Mancunians, still in Manchester livery operated from Daw Bank, I travelled on both 2119 and 2123 on the 40 (Gatley) one Saturday, only for them to promptly disappear again. I wonder if anyone has any photos of these, or the 3800s operating in Stockport in Manchester red. Or of the LUT Seddon which gave me another surprise by passing our house one Sunday afternoon in August 1970, on the 23, on hire to SELNEC for evaluation!

Michael Keeley


16/02/14 - 09:27

Thanks for the clarification about the Lancs United saloons at Stockport being Seddons. There was certainly more than one, but how many I don't remember. It has escaped my mind if they were Seddons or Bristols. Their usual haunt was the 40 to Gatley. As for the ex-Stockport PD3 in Woodsmoor this photo can, due the fitting of the new destination blind to accommodate the exNWRCC destination, but still having the old SCTD numerical blinds can be dated between the end of May and end of July 1973.

Niall Dorsett


18/02/14 - 08:03

That's correct Niall, it was taken on the 28th May 1973: after several years relative stability,in early summer '73 the Stockport local routes were being operated by quite an assortment of vehicles at peak hours including ex-North Western saloons, with some crew operation on nominally OMO routes. (I was supposed to be revising for my O levels at the time, but couldn't resist breaking off to have a trip into Stockport on an ex NW Reliance or Leopard on the 303!) Just to correct my earlier post, I've just checked my records and the LUT single-deckers appeared in August 1971 (not 1970). I noted at least 382 on the 37, 383 on the 23 and 391 on the 147 which I think went to Hollinwood so I assume the latter was running from Queens Rd.

Michael Keeley


03/03/14 - 08:31

Phil, just another thing I wonder if you could clarify, prior to the construction of Piccadilly (Stockport version!) I seem to recall differential routing on the 16/26/36 group on the Offerton side if it was Stockport market day: if the market wasn't on, the service went Churchgate-Market Place-St Petersgate but if it was market day via Wellington St, (then A6?)- the camber crossing Hillgate always did seem a bit alarming on a DD (without wishing to open the 75 single decker question again). It now seems strange to imagine PD2s and, Manchester buses, passing the market hall but I'm convinced I travelled on 16s through the market place on a Sunday and the old MCTD maps seem to show this as the route. It's a pity so many SCTD pictures are in Mersey Square, I don't recall seeing any in the Petersgate/Market area.

Michael Keeley


03/03/14 - 09:46

It's correct that SCTD routes 16, 26 and 75 used an alternative route on Market days in Stockport (Fridays, then). I don't think I've ever seen a photo of one passing the Market Hall nor on St Petersgate east of St Peters Sq.

Orla Nutting


04/03/14 - 06:54

Michael, your memory is correct. I'm in New Zealand at present so can't access my records to check days of service or the years in which the routing ran that waybut my memory chimes with yours. I see that Orla has replied but at present his reply doesn't show up but his Stockport knowledge is first class so hopefully he has supplied some detail.

Phil Blinkhorn


08/03/14 - 16:24

Thanks both for that info, more or less answers my question, now just got to search for that elusive photo.

Michael Keeley


07/05/14 - 06:42

Phil/Orla, I have another question outside the timeframe of the original article and it's a bit of a long shot. As you may have gathered I lived in Woodsmoor in the 1960s/70s, the local route being the 23, 303, 375/6 or whatever running round via Crossway. However in Harry Postlethwaite's book (and I seem to remember in an earlier PSV Circle fleet history) there is mention of a circular bus service started in 1926 using Leyland Lions, "via Turncroft Lane-Mile End Lane-Woodsmoor Lane-Cale Green-Greek St". This would indicate that it served the area of Woodsmoor to the north-east of the railway line. Any ideas as to which route it followed? Either over the level crossing (unlikely, by the 1960s it was only rarely opened by a reluctant signalman) or via Moorland Rd (extremely narrow) and the railway bridge. Either way, by 1932 this circular service seems to have disappeared as it's not shown on the (admittedly vague) SCTD map of that date in Mr Postlethwaite's book.

Michael Keeley


08/05/14 - 07:41

Sorry but I have no more knowledge or information than you. Orla may be able to help - depends on his vintage

Phil Blinkhorn


10/05/14 - 08:59

I too do not know anything further than that which Harry Postlethwaites book mentions but I would hazard a guess that routing through Woodsmoor probably ceased on the inception of service #23 which that book dates as 29 Sept 1929.
I did make some enquiries about this and discovered that by 1933 the circular service had been very much extended carrying route number 39 and running from Crossley Rd, down Manchester Rd, Lancashire Hill and into the town centre via Chestergate and then south via Market Place, Turncroft Lane, Hempshaw Lane, Longshut Lane and then through Edgeley, Cheadle Heath, Cheadle, Parrs Wood and Heaton Moor. Shortly afterwards it was discontinued, perhaps with the advent of the 74 and 75 routes.
The route number 39 was later used for a works service version of the 9 to Reddish from Hans Renolds in Burnage and later still on the town centre to Councillor Lane service ....... never one to waste a route number were Stockport!

Orla Nutting


14/05/14 - 06:05

Thanks to Phil and Orla for getting back on this one - I guess we'll never really know the answer unless I stumble upon an old postcard

Michael Keeley

 


 

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