The 353 already existed before the start date of this collection, but that part of the history is covered in the Saddleworth Buses gallery as part of the story of the 154. The nature of the 353 changed significantly from 20th July 1980 and this gallery starts from then.
This revised 353 ran from Ashton to bottom Mossley, top Mossley, Grasscroft, Uppermill and Delph to Denshaw. At this time the service ran every two hours with extra journeys in the peak and was worked largely by GMT’s Tameside garage, with Oldham contributing some workings (conversely Oldham worked the 355, which shared a lot of common route, exclusively). However, by November 1985 the service had been reduced dramatically and comprised a handful of peak hour journeys.
This changed little with deregulation, although the section of road through Grasscroft which was no longer served by the 355 was now principally served by new routes 341 and 342, worked by Dennis’s. These went into Ashton direct from top Mossley. However, from 7th May 1988 these routes ceased and were replaced by tendered journeys on the 353.
From then onwards the service changed very little, but the operators did and great variety ensued as there were separate contracts for the Monday to Friday daytime, Weekday early morning and evening, Saturday daytime and Sunday services.
One minor variation of the route was the extension of some daytime journeys by 1989 along Waterton Lane in Mossley (up the side of the Co-op). There was also a journey that served Milton Mill in Mossley (towards Roaches from Mossley station) but that ceased by 1991 and the mill itself is now but a memory.
Originally the 353 left Mossley for Uppermill along Stockport Road, but from 1988 some journeys went instead via Carrhill Road to serve Roughtown. This has continued to date (with a break for a few months in 2005) but the workings that way use the same number and the timetable has been confusingly worded or just plain wrong on which route they take. It has always left room for doubt as to which buses go which way.
The evening service was withdrawn in 1997 but a new evening service was introduced in 1999 as part of a package of changes paid for by the Rural Bus Initiative, which also saw the introduction of the 351 and 356 services. The new evening service extended the 353 from Uppermill to Diggle, then returning via Dobcross village, Delph Cross Roads and Scouthead to Oldham.
The service was again revised from 31st October 2004 as part of the major Saddleworth revision on that date. Coming from Mossley towards Uppermill the service turned down High Grove Road in Grasscroft, then through Friezland to Uppermill. From there it was now extended through Dobcross village to Delph cross roads and Carrcote.
A minor change in 2006 was the diversion of buses up past Greenfield station instead of them using Chapel Road.
From 19th April 2009 the evening service was curtailed to operate only between Ashton and Uppermill, passengers from Diggle and Dobcross being advised to use the Local Link service instead. From 26th October the same year the service was diverted from Greenfield station and instead reached Uppermill via Queensway and Carr Lane, similar to the 354, before resuming its previous route along Rush Hill Road and Grove Road.
Up to 1988 the service was worked exclusively by Greater Manchester Transport (later GM Buses). After then the picture became very complicated and the operators were:
Dennis’s Coaches - Mon-Sat daytime service from 1988 to 1989, Mon-Sat daytime and evenings 1995 to 1998 (evening service withdrawn 1997).
GM Buses - Evening and Sunday service 1988 to 1989, one Mon-Sat teatime journey 1988 to 1991, Sat daytime service 1989 to by 1993 and 1994 to 1995, Sunday service 1991 to 1998.
Checkmate Mini Coaches - Mon-Fri daytime service from 1989 to 1995, one Mon-Sat teatime journey 1991 to 1995.
Crosville - Evening and Sunday service 1988 to 1990.
Bee Line - Evening and Sunday service 1990 to 1991, one Mon-Sat teatime journey 1991, Mon-Sat evenings 1994 to 1995.
Pennine Blue - School journeys 1991 to 1993.
Tame Valley Motor Services - Mon-Sat evenings 1991 to 1994, Saturday daytime service by 1993 to 1994.
Sports Tours - School journeys 1993 to by 1995.
Stott’s Tours - School journeys by 1995 to 1998. Monday to Saturday daytime service from 2010 to 2011.
Universal Buses - All daytime and Sunday journeys 1998 to 2000.
First Pennine/First Manchester - Evening service 1999 to date, Monday to Saturday daytime service from 2011
Stagecoach Manchester - All daytime and Sunday journeys 2000 to 2003
Bu-Val - All daytime journeys 2003 to 2004
Speedwell Private Hire - All daytime journeys 2004 to 2010
© David Beilby