The 356 was created at the same time as the 351, as part of the Government’s Rural Bus Initiative. It is said that the remit when creating these routes was to travel down as many roads as possible that were not already served by buses. This objective was most admirably achieved and as a consequence buses were able to be seen along many roads that you would never have imagined having a bus service.
The 356 made a particularly interesting way of travelling from Greenfield to Oldham, particularly the stretch where it climbed above Uppermill and dropped down into Diggle along Running Hill Lane and Ward Lane.
The service only ran three trips each way on Mondays and Thursdays and was originally planned to connect with trains at Greenfield station. However, in December 2004 the train times changed by half an hour and an adjustment of that magnitude was presumably too difficult, particularly as I don’t believe the connection facility was much used.
The first working of this service was on 11th January 1999 (although the original timetable leaflet shows 1998 in error). The first operator was Universal Buses. They were taken over by Stagecoach in April 2000 and the latter company then operated the service for some years. Bu-Val of Rochdale took over operation from 1st September 2003.
Following a change in policy on rural transport, the 356 was replaced by the Local Link service, a demand-responsive service which is effectively a larger-than-average shared taxi. The last 356 ran on April 12th 2007 and was worked by Bu-Val’s Iveco R219 AOR.
© David Beilby