These services took some time to work out what they were trying to do, but have since settled down - so much so that the two timetable issues were as far apart as March 2003 and December 2010.
The initial service was the 397. This was very much a Lees area local service which served three districts - Thomas Street, Holts and Springhead.
By 1992 the service had become the 418 and worked from Middleton via Mills Hill (serving several roads not otherwise served by bus), Chadderton, Royal Oldham Hospital, Oldham town centre, Lees, then out via Cooper Street, Springhead, Heywood Street, Austerlands, Stamford Road and back through Lees to Middleton. The circular element of the service from Oldham to Lees and Springhead has remained unchanged since, but there have been several changes at the western end of the route.
By the end of 1993 the 418 started in Moston and then traversed Hollinwood Avenue to Hollinwood before following the 427 route via Hollins. By 1995 this had been curtailed to just run from Oldham Town Square bus station. Then in 1996 the service returned to serve the Royal Oldham Hospital on the way to Chadderton, essentially a shorter version of the 1992 service with some detail route variations. It actually ran in the hospital grounds on journeys to Chadderton.
From 13th December 2010 the service was changed to serve Dr. Kershaw's Hospice in Royton instead of the Royal Oldham Hospital (although it still passed the hospital along Rochdale Road), and this is the current form of the service.
Bluebird was the original operator but by 1997 Bu-Val had taken over. Checkmate Coaches of Mossley started working the service from at least 27th April 1998 until operation transferred to S & S Travel Services on 2nd June 2014. Just over a year later, on 27th July 2015 operation was taken over by M Travel. The 2014 and 2015 changes involved minor timetable changes to just one journey each.
It should be noted that this service is worked by the same vehicle that operates the 826 school service from Grains Bar to Saddleworth School and the operators therefore change at the same time.
© David Beilby