The lines to Hollinwood via Hollins and the Lees boundary at Leesbrook were authorised by the Oldham Corporation Act 1899. The service to the Lees boundary formally opened on 15th June 1901 and to Hollinwood via Hollins on 18th July of the same year. These were short sections of route operated by single cars as at this stage the routes through the town centre were leased to the Manchester Carriage and Tramways Company until 31st October 1901 and still worked by horse cars. During the spring of 1902 the Hollins Road service was extended through the town centre to Middleton Road and the Lees boundary service extended to Hollinwood via Werneth as the town centre tracks were electrified.
Later that same year the services changed to become Hill Stores to Hollinwood via Hollins and Lees boundary to Chadderton boundary but the latter reverted to Lees boundary to Werneth Fire Station from 17th January 1903. On 18th May the Hill Stores to Hollinwood service was integrated with the Moorside and Market Place one to give a through service from Moorside to Hollinwood. The Moorside line was extended to Grains Bar from 3rd June 1914.
The line from the Lees boundary to County End was authorised under the Lees Urban District Council Order of 1902 and opened on 1st August 1903, by which time the service was operating from County End to Hollinwood via Werneth.
Route numbers were introduced in 1920, replacing the coloured lights previously used:
2 - Hollinwood to Lees County End (formerly white)
5 - Hollinwood to Grains Bar (formerly green)
6 - Hollinwood to Moorside (formerly green)
BUSES FOR TRAMS
Trams to Lees were replaced by buses from 2nd May 1928; these operated from Market Place to Grotton as service O. There was no suitable place for buses to turn round at County End initially so all buses had to go to Grotton. Correspondence having been exchanged with Springhead UDC with regard to widening the end of Station Road to allow it to be used as a bus terminus. In 1930 a bus terminus was created at Lees County End which was actually in Jackson Street, Springhead, whose UDC again were involved in consenting to the proposals. This led to buses going into a different county just to turn round!
Trams to Grains Bar ran for the last time on 23rd December 1928 and the tram service from Hollinwood then terminated at Mumps Bridge, only to be further shortened to Market Place from 14th October 1929. From 22nd December 1935 this tram service was replaced by extending the Grotton and Lees bus services to Hollinwood. Shortly after different route letters were introduced for variants. Letter O was used for buses from Lees County End to Hollinwood, S was used for short workings from Clarksfield Road to Heron Street, Hollins and T was used for full-length workings from Grotton to Hollinwood.
BUS SERVICE DEVELOPMENT
The O, S and T was by far the largest revenue generator for Oldham Corporation’s fleet and as a consequence it generally got the newest buses.
An additional variant was introduced commencing 29th April 1951 when some journeys on the O were diverted in Lees to serve Stamford Road. This service followed the route of a tramway authorised under the Lees Urban District Council Order of 1902 as far as Hey but never built.
The S service short workings gradually disappeared in the 1960s, although I recall them making occasional brief reappearances. With increasing traffic levels and numbers of parked cars the terminii in any case became less suitable for reversing buses.
From 1st April 1968 the services were renumbered - T to 27, O Lees County End to 28 and O Stamford Road to 29, finally giving this route its own designation. Notably no number was allocated to the erstwhile S service. Under SELNEC control 400 was added to these numbers from 2nd December 1973, although by this time County End was no longer in use as a terminus and 428 was not used.
From 19th July 1981 the services were converted to one-man operation and the Stamford Road service became a circular, with buses from Hollinwood to Stamford Road via Huddersfield Road taking the unused number 428.
POST-DEREGULATION VARIATION AND EXTENSION
The 428 and 429 services were withdrawn at deregulation, from 26th October 1986 and Stamford Road served by a diverted 343. However Stott’s introduction of their 416 and 417 services from 26th January 1987 saw GM Buses introduce an Oldham to Stamford Road circular in retaliation.
Also at deregulation the previous Diggle to Oldham service, the 431, was replaced by extending one journey an hour on the GM Buses 427 (Hollinwood to Grotton) to Diggle through Uppermill and Dobcross village.
However, this did not last very long, as from 6th September 1987 a new 429 service was introduced. This linked Diggle with Hathershaw and also involved a diversion from Lees along St. John’s Street and Stamford Road to enter Oldham along Huddersfield Road. Hathershaw was reached directly down Ashton Road. On Sundays the 429 operated from Diggle to Uppermill only, connecting with the 184. An extension was made into Fitton Hill from Hathershaw on 1st February 1988.
By 1990 the service had been diverted yet again in Hathershaw, to go along Hollins Road and to Limeside. Yet by 1991 a more significant change resulted in buses from Diggle going to Mills Hill, reaching there via Burnley Lane and Chadderton Hall Road. From 21st April that year the Sunday service was withdrawn and the evening service reduced.
Alongside these changes to the 429, the 427 had been extended to serve Uppermill in the evenings and Sundays from 22nd July 1990, replacing the 184 at those times.
A more extensive change had taken place by 1992 (unfortunately I don’t have an exact date), when the 429 service ceased and Diggle was served by a further extension of the 427. The last bus from Diggle to Oldham went via Scouthead instead of Uppermill as a 183. From 6th July 1992 some journeys (including most from Diggle) were extended to Manchester Chorlton Street bus station.
From 31st January 1994 services were diverted off Oldham Road at Hollinwood to reach Manchester along Roman Road and Ashton Road West in Failsworth. This didn’t last too long and by 1995 the 427 had returned to the original route along Oldham Road. At the same time the terminus in Manchester moved to the Arndale Bus Station.
From 30th September 1996 the daytime weekday 427 service only ran to Hollinwood, but in the evening it continued to Manchester, now going into Piccadilly and, from October 14th, it made a rather circuitous tour of the City Centre to end up at Victoria Station. On Sundays all journeys terminated at Piccadilly Gardens, but by this stage no evening and Sunday journeys went to Diggle. The extension to Manchester Victoria was curtailed from 23rd June 1997.
Then from 25th October 1999 the desire to seek further terminal points in Manchester led to a change from Piccadilly Garden to Cannon Street. At the same time daytime journeys started running through to the City again. However, the situation reversed again from 3rd September 2000.
From 19th March 2003 Stott’s Tours recommenced stage carriage operation when they worked an additional daytime service from Grotton to Hollinwood. This continued until 2nd January 2008, although it is quite possible that the last journeys ran before Christmas 2007.
The remaining 427 journeys were withdrawn by First Manchester as part of the major Saddleworth service reorganisation of 30th October 2004. They were replaced by withdrawing the Limited Stop status from the 180 and 184 and, after a short gap, the introduction of the new 183 service (q.v.).
In addition to GM Buses and its successors, these services have been worked by other operators as follows:
Crosville - 429 evening and Sunday service from 1988 to 1990.
Bee Line Buzz Company - 429 evening and Sunday service by 1990 to 1991. One late journey from Oldham to Hollinwood on the 427 from 1991 to 1993. An early Uppermill to Oldham journey from 1992 to 1993. Evening journeys to Diggle by 1994 to 1997 (with a break during 1995).
North Western - A school journey on the 429 by 1990 to 1991.
Tame Valley - 429 evening service (latterly as 427) from 1991 (ceased by 1994). A solitary 0005 departure from Uppermill to Oldham on Fridays and Saturdays by 1994 to 1995.
Bluebird - An early morning Oldham to Hollinwood 427 journey by 1992 to 1993. An early Saturday morning journey from Grotton to Oldham from 1995 to 1996.
Citibus - An early Saturday morning journey from Grotton to Oldham from 1993 to 1995, two early morning journeys on Mondays to Fridays 1995.
Dennis’s Coaches - Evening journeys to Diggle in 1995.
Stott’s Tours - Daytime Grotton to Hollinwood journeys from 2003 to 2008
County Coaches - School journey 2003 to 2004.
Stagecoach Manchester - Have also worked schools journeys but these are not noted in the timetables.
© David Beilby