The 13 and 183 service has a particularly complicated and interesting history.
Oldham Corporation were given MoT approval to extend their Chapel Road to Greenacres service to Scouthead (Star Inn) in February 1927 and at the same time they sought consent to extend the service along Platting Road to Lydgate then back to Oldham through Grotton. Consent was given for this in August 1927, such consent apparently being a requirement of the Oldham Corporation act of 1925 which gave them powers to operate such services.
In April 1927 the fares and stages for the Chapel Road to Scouthead service were approved by the Tramways Committee and operation started on 6th April 1927. It appears that plans to extend along Platting Road were quietly dropped. West Riding County Council consented to the operations in February 1928, somewhat retrospectively!
In September 1927 plans were made to start an Urmston to Scouthead service, part of the Manchester Corporation express bus network. This would result in the Oldham Corporation service from Chapel Road being curtailed to again terminate at Greenacres. However, Stretford UDC would not grant licences for their part of the route. After some delay it was found that Cheadle & Gatley UDC were more accommodating.
Hence on 8th March 1928 the Manchester express service from Gatley to Hollinwood (that had only started on 30th January) was extended to Scouthead, which at almost 1000 feet above sea level was to be the highest altitude reached by Manchester buses. This service was jointly operated by Manchester and Oldham Corporations together with North Western Road Car, as a result of North Western joining what was known as the Corporations’ Coordinated Motor Bus Scheme, and ran hourly in a co-ordinated timetable with the Gatley to Shaw service.
From 15th May 1929 there was further co-ordination of services which led to an extension from Scouthead to Uppermill with additional workings to Uppermill via Lees (at the same time the through Manchester to Greenfield was introduced). Only two months later the operation of the Uppermill services was changed. Buses from Scouthead and Lees approached Uppermill from different directions; they were combined as a circular service, avoiding the need for reversing in Uppermill.
Buses stopped only at selected stops as far as Waterhead and were officially referred to originally as Express services. In later years the term “Limited Stop” was used and shown on the Manchester's intermediate blind in big letters. This service was given the route number 13 in 1930.
Manchester’s express route network was not universally liked. The railways didn’t like the competition and exploited police objections to congestion in certain parts of the city centre. As a consequence, the network was split into separate services that terminated in the city centre and the 13 was truncated to terminate in Parker St. Bus Station (generally known as Piccadilly Bus Station) from the day this opened on 25th October 1931. Up to this point Manchester's Parrs Wood garage had participated in the operation but that now ceased.
In December 1932 this service (along with the 14) was diverted to operate via Hollins, as the Greenfield service (the 10) had always done. The service then settled down to a very stable existence.
1940 saw the introduction of an emergency timetable which saw the service halved. A further war economy was a cut back of the service to a new city terminus in Stevenson Square to save mileage (and consequently fuel and rubber) and in that area it stayed; a small postwar change saw a move to the nearby Lever Street although Stevenson Square remained the display on the destination blinds of all three operators. It remained there for many years but by 1984 had moved into Piccadilly, then to Chorlton Street and finally at the end of Oldham Street, just off Piccadilly.
Manchester's operation transferred from Queens Road to Rochdale Road garage in May 1956. Under SELNEC ownership, Rochdale Road garage closed in August 1970 and operation was transferred to Hyde Road. This move did lead to some strange unscheduled variations, with Manchester buses exploring parts of Saddleworth they never had before as the new crews grappled with the alien territory!
North Western was split up at the end of 1971 and the services in the PTE area transferred to SELNEC Cheshire. However, that division was merged with the Southern Division in 1973. This led to the closure of Oldham’s former North Western depot that year and a transfer of those workings to the erstwhile Corporation garage. Later that same year the service was renumbered as the 183.
Journeys on the 13 from Manchester had been worked by Manchester and Oldham, North Western working out as 14s and then returning from Uppermill as a 13. By 1976 the frequency on the 180/183/184 services had reduced from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes by withdrawal of a journey on the 180 and retiming the 183 and 184. As a consquence the Manchester bus on the 183/184 left Manchester as a 184 and returned as a 183. This continued until January 1980 when the Hyde Road workings were also transferred to Oldham and Manchester garage involvement ceased.
Also from 1976 the Sunday service on the 183 and 184 was reduced to an Oldham to Uppermill circular, effectively the former 153 and 155.
In 2001 the operational link between the 183 and 184 services in Uppermill was broken as the 183 was extended to Greenfield, at the same time being diverted in a loop through Delph village to serve Carrcote (something some peak-hour journeys had done for several years). This was the final configuration of the service when withdrawn as part of the large-scale reorganisation of Saddleworth services from 31st October 2004. However, a single journey has remained as a journey from Saddleworth School to Oldham in the afternoon - this does not go through Delph village and Carrcote. The older number is retained to distinguish it from the 350, which does.
The bulk of the service has always been worked by the original operators or their successors (SELNEC, GMT, GM Buses, First). However, the rural nature of the route via Scouthead has meant that evening and Sunday services were tendered journeys (including one that was diverted to serve Diggle). As a consequence journeys on the 183 have been operated by:
Stott's Tours - worked school journeys to and from Saddleworth School intermittently
Tame Valley - worked weekday evening services from 1991, reduced to a single journey in 1995
Dennis's Coaches - weekday evening services in 1995
Bee Line - weekday evening services from 1995 to 1997
Universal Buses - Sunday service from 1998, plus some additional daytime journeys for part of 1999 to takeover in April 2000
Stagecoach Manchester - took over Universal and the operation of the Sunday service until 2003
© David Beilby