For a service with such a long and distinguished history, the story of the 365 is relatively simple, although the length of this history might indicate otherwise! It commenced on 21st March 1930 as the Huddersfield to Oldham service of Hanson’s Buses. Thus it remained until 1st October 1969 when Hanson’s Bus services were taken over by Huddersfield Corporation, the same day that the Huddersfield Joint Omnibus Committee was also merged into the Corporation fleet.
In the Hanson era it was the only bus service in Saddleworth worked by an independent operator. It had started as an two-hourly service in the morning, increased to hourly in the afternoon. From May 1934 the the afternoon and evening service became two-hourly except at weekends and Bank Holidays. When the service was two-hourly it left Oldham at five to the even hour and Huddersfield at five to the odd hour.
As would be expected, the service was reduced during the Second World War with morning and evening services all withdrawn except for one early round trip from Huddersfield during the week. The service was restored after the war and double-deckers started to be used.
The service pattern remained steady for many years but from 12th April 1968 the weekday service was reduced to three return trips, the weekend timetable being unchanged. A new 0630 departure from Oldham was introduced from 7th October 1968. This was a subsidised journey introduced to provide alternative facilities following the closure of several stations between Stalybridge and Huddersfield (including Diggle and Saddleworth) and involved a bus running dead from Huddersfield to Oldham. By 1976 this journey had become an advertised one and as such was the first bus from Saddleworth into Oldham in the morning.
From about 1976 one journey in the morning going to Huddersfield and an afternoon return journey were diverted to serve Colne Valley High School, which involved a rather Alpine climb off the A62 in Linthwaite.
The next changes came after deregulation in 1986, when the service was extended to Manchester on Saturdays and also became hourly on that day of the week. From 1st November 1987 the weekday service was improved and the timetable changed, moving from the traditional departure time after over fifty years.
From 4th August 1991 the Sunday service was significantly changed to reflect reduced demand and also provide a Sunday service to the village of Diggle. This was achieved by diverting the service from Huddersfield at the top of Standedge to take the road into Diggle village, at the same time running short workings from Oldham to Diggle, which went up Sam Road to use the “Old Station Turning” near the Diggle Hotel. The resulting timetable gave an hourly Oldham to Diggle service and just four through journeys a day.
From 2nd November 1992 the weekday service was much improved and now ran hourly. In 1995 a further extension of the service was made to Bradford Interchange (except on Sundays). At this stage a Saturday journey from one end of the route to the other would take two-and-a-half hours!
The service took a bizarre twist in 1996 when Blue Bus started a competing service from 2nd June and Kingfisher retaliated by adding a further spoiler journey from 24th June. A service which only ten years earlier had three journeys a day was now seeing that many an hour! This was clearly not sustainable and Kingfisher soon returned to one bus an hour (from 19th August) and Blue Bus ran for the last time on October 25th.
The Saturday extension to Manchester had been withdrawn by 1998 and from 13th March 2000 buses no longer reached Bradford. In the meantime, from 25th April 1999, the Sunday service had been revised to a simple two-hourly Oldham to Huddersfield service, still making the detour to the “Old Station Turning”.
The service remained like this until the major Saddleworth revisions of 31st October 2004 when the service was replaced by the extended 184 on Mondays to Saturdays. The Sunday service, which had been worked by Speedwell Private Hire since 25th April 2004, remained until the two-year contract expired after operation on 16th April 2006 (although it may have operated on the 17th April also as that was Easter Monday).
One strange effect of the change of Sunday (or more particularly Bank Holiday) operator was seen in 2005 and was a result of Huddersfield’s local practice of not taking Good Friday as a holiday, but instead the following Tuesday. Huddersfield ran their Monday to Friday buses on the 184 from Huddersfield to Manchester (Oldham did not) and Speedwell worked the tendered 365 journeys as these were subsidised by GMPTE. As a consequence the tendered 365 and commercial 184 could be seen making their way between Oldham and Huddersfield only minutes apart! This did not happen in 2006.
This history started with a mention of the original operator. With the exception of Blue Bus it has always been worked by Hanson or their successors. Huddersfield Corporation became part of West Yorkshire PTE from 1st April 1974 as a result of local government reorganisation. WYPTE operated initially with the fleetname Metro Kirklees, later just Metro and finally as MetroBus. With deregulation the operating company was legally obliged to become a separate entity and thus Yorkshire Rider was born. Later the Huddersfield operation was given the local brand name of Kingfisher. This was perpetuated for some time under First Group ownership but it is now First Huddersfield.
Hanson did not use route numbers. When Huddersfield took over from 1st October 1969 they gave it the number 65, but this was little used at first as the service was still operated mainly by former Hanson vehicles which could not show route numbers. West Yorkshire PTE adopted a county-wide system of numbering but this took some time to apply in Huddersfield (and Halifax) as those local authorities had used two-track number blinds which could not easily accommodate the higher numbers. Nonetheless, Huddersfield’s services eventually got a 300 prefix and this one became the 365.
The terminal point in Huddersfield was originally on Macaulay Street and remained there until the Upperhead Row bus station opened on 17th January 1949, although as that bus station opened before it was completed due to post-war shortages, it is not clear whether all services moved on the quoted date. From 1st December 1974 the 65 (as it was by then) moved again to the new bus station, as part of the first phase of its opening. The service terminated there for the rest of its existence.
© David Beilby