Oldham had applied to the Ministry of Transport for powers to operate buses outside the borough boundary. North Western objected to this and as a consequence a public enquiry was held at Oldham Town Hall on 26th January 1927. Oldham were successful and this, the first service to take advantage of the new powers, started on April 6th 1927 and ran from Middleton through Boarshaw Road, Hilton Fold Lane, Mills Hill, Street Bridge, Royton, High Crompton and Shaw to a terminus at Bridge Street, a short street just beyond the present Wren's Nest on the Milnrow Road.
The extension to Bridge Street seems to have been an afterthought as separate consent for that section was sought. It may have been due to the lack of suitable turning facilities at Wren's Nest but these were clearly resolved by 1935 when the 59 bus replaced trams between Oldham and Shaw. The original plan for the route out of Middleton was to be direct but the later route was introduced to avoid abstracting traffic from the trams.
In the early days Oldham Corporation rejected several requests to extend the service to Grains Bar. However, from 18th July 1948 the service was extended some of the way from Wren's Nest to Shore Edge (Chapel). At the same time the section from Royton to Middleton was curtailed and replaced by the new 11 and 12 services from Derker, an extension of the original B service which had only run as far as Booth Hill.
This service was the first to lose its route letter - it was renumbered from F to 17 from 29th August 1966 and was Oldham's first one-man route of the modern era, being converted from the same date. Later in the SELNEC numbering scheme it was numbered 417 from 2nd December 1973. In the whole of the postwar period the service was characterised by having no morning service apart from some early peak-hour trips, a feature shared for many years with the Denshaw service.
The terminus in Royton moved from the Town Hall, actually behind the Town Hall on Park Street, to Cardigan Street in the early 1970s. Around 1978 the route and terminus at Shore Edge were changed to serve the growing Buckstones estate.
The service last ran in April 1985, when it was replaced by a diversion of the 411 service from Royton.
© David Beilby