This service commenced operation on 23rd January 1926. It was jointly operated by Oldham Corporation and SHMD (Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Transport and Electricity Board, to use its full title the once in this gallery!).
There was a lot of wrangling at first about fares but things eventually settled down to a stable pattern. The bus started in Oldham on Greaves Street, next to the Town Hall and finished at Mossley (Brookbottom), confusingly as it is generally known as top Mossley! Oldham, as was their policy with motor bus routes at the time, gave it the route letter E, whereas SHMD numbered it 16.
This schism remained until January 1967, prior to Oldham’s general abandonment of route letters, when they gave it the same number as SHMD. Thus it remained until after the formation of SELNEC in 1969, under whose administration it was renumbered 416 on 2nd December 1973.
20th July 1980 was a date when many Saddleworth services changed; amongst these was the 416 which ceased to run from that date when it was replaced by an extension of the 343 service which had previously run from Hyde to Mossley. This had started life as the trunk route of SHMD, the 4. After the building of the estate in Micklehurst certain journeys were diverted that way and numbered 4A and it was these that eventually became the 343, the 4 becoming the 344.
On deregulation on 26th October 1986 the service was diverted and left Oldham along Greenacres Road and reached Lees along Stamford Road and St. John’s Street instead of directly along Lees Road as previously. On 5th April 1992 some journeys on the 344 were also extended into Oldham but the 344 service disappeared altogether by November that year.
By 2001 the route left Oldham along Huddersfield Road instead of Greenacres Road as previously, except in the evenings and on Sundays. The route changed again on 26th January 2004 with the daytime service reverting to its original route from Oldham via Lees Road, although the evening and Sunday service was still through Greenacres.
The 344 made a surprise reappearance from 19th April 2004, although not with its original meaning. A single journey in the morning leaves Oldham along Huddersfield Road and has been given that number.
Until 2007 First Manchester (as successor to GM Buses, SELNEC and Greater Manchester Transport) had been the principal operator of weekday daytime journeys, but as from 17th April 2007 Speedwell Travel commenced operation of the commercial service as First considered that it was no longer viable, First Manchester then only operating evening and Sunday services.
From 28th January 2008 the route of the daytime 343 journeys worked by Speedwell was changed so that going toward Hyde buses descended Micklehurst Road and climbed Stayley Road (and the opposite when heading to Oldham).
From 19th April 2009 the evening and Sunday service was changed to go into Oldham along Lees Road, (as the daytime service). As part of the same changes the operator of the Saturday daytime service became JPT. Bringing a splash of colour to the area, their buses were first seen thus on the 25th April 2009.
Speedwell de-registered the service from 3rd October 2009 and it was replaced by First on an emergency tender until a new agreement was reached with Speedwell on subsidised fares which meant that they were prepared to take the service on again from December 2009. All services had reverted to the previous route round Micklehurst and this simpler route allowed operating economies due to the shorter running time and it was therefore retained.
The Speedwell journeys were changed again from 31st August 2010 when buses towards Hyde turned left at Mossley station and served Roaches, turning right at the Royal George, descending Winterford Road and climbing Stayley Road (and the reverse).
2012 was brought in by Speedwell ceasing all operations on 18th January. An emergency tender saw the service operated by Stagecoach from 19th January 2012 until the service could be re-tendered. From 15th April 2012 Stott's Tours started to work the Monday to Friday daytime service. JPT continued to run the Saturday service but this was now re-routed and re-timed to follow the same route as the Monday to Friday daytime service.
A minor route change was introduced from 28th April 2014 with buses being diverted to serve Brushes Estate in Stalybridge. This change was overshadowed by the takeover of JPT by Stagecoach on 25th April 2014, the last day of operation by JPT being 19th April 2014. The takeover happened very suddenly and the day after the takeover the service was operated by Stagecoach from their Ashton depot, but operations then continued on Saturdays from the former JPT depot with a wide variety of vehicles.
From 12th April 2015 the tender for Saturday services passed to Stott’s, giving continuity with the weekday service. At the same time First’s operation of the service ceased with evening and Sunday services worked by Stagecoach, once more from Ashton instead of the former JPT depot in Middleton. These journeys were also extended to Gee Cross from Hyde, via Dowson Road, Waverley Road and Knott Lane.
From 3rd April 2016 there were further changes to the evening and Sunday service. The extension to Gee Cross was withdrawn and these buses also no longer served either Brushes Estate or Carrbrook. More significant was the re-routing of the service into Oldham through Greenacres at these times to replace withdrawn journeys on the 81A. Due to the different route these workings were, along with the single morning journey worked by Stott’s, re-numbered 340.
Since deregulation the 340, 343 and 344 have been served by a large number of operators on various other (tendered) journeys:
S. M. Tandy (Checkmate Minicoaches) - Sunday journeys between Stalybridge and Mossley from 1987 to 1991
JP Executive - A single, very early (0520) journey from Mossley to Hyde from 1988 to 1998. One evening journey 2001 to 2005. Saturday daytime service from 25th April 2009 until 19th April 2014.
Citibus - Oldham to Hyde journeys on Sundays from 1989 to early 1990, then similar plus evening journeys late 1990 to 1992. Some evening journeys in 1995.
Bee Line Buzz Company - Schools journeys from 1991 to early 1992, some evening workings late 1992 to 1995
Dennis’s Coaches - Schools plus some early evening journeys 1991 to 1992. School journey 2002 to takeover by Stagecoach in 2005.
Mayne’s - Schools journeys from 1991 to 1995, 1998 to 2001, 2006 to date
Pennine Blue - Schools journeys from 1991 to 1995
Tame Valley - Evening and Sunday workings 1992 to 1993 (Sundays) and 1995 (evenings)
Red Rider - A school journey in the Dukinfield area 1992
GMS Buses - Sundays and some school journeys from 1995 to 1998.
Pennine (later First Pennine) - single late evening journey from 1995, Sunday service from 1998. As First Manchester operated evening services from 2007 to 2015.
Glossopdale - Evening services 1995 to 1999
Stott’s - School journey 2001 to 2004, Monday to Friday daytime service from April 2012 to date, with the addition of Saturday service from April 2015.
Stagecoach - Evening services from takeover of Glossopdale in 1999 to 2001. Schools journeys 2001 to date. Monday to Friday service on an emergency tender from January to April 2012. Saturday service from April 2014 to April 2015, then evening and Sunday service to date.
GM Buses (UK North) - A single, Wednesday only, school journey Mossley Hollins School to Stalybridge from 2005 to 2006
© David Beilby