These services have their origins in the period just before deregulation. The abandonment by Yorkshire Woollen of the service from Manchester to Bradford led to the extension of certain journeys on the West Yorkshire PTE Halifax to Rishworth service over the moors to Oldham. This was given the number 561 which was once allocated to a much shorter extension as far as Cunning Corner, about one mile from Rishworth.
With deregulation from 26th October 1986 a new service appeared on the scene which replaced the 561. This was the 556 which went from Oldham to Denshaw, Rishworth, Ripponden, Barkisland, West Vale and Halifax. This was quite a scenic route and the tender was won by Yelloway, who had decided (unwisely as it turned out) to move from their traditional luxury coach market into stage carriage operation.
The decision resulted in the acquisition of a large fleet of second-hand buses which brought great variety for the enthusiast but severely stretched maintenance resources. The biggest surprise was the use of double-deckers on the 556.
The service was extended to Manchester Piccadilly from 2nd November 1987 except in the evenings and on Sundays.
Maintenance problems led to Yelloway’s operations being handed over to Crosville Motor Services from 20th November 1988. Crosville was traditionally the main operator in North and Mid Wales and it seemed bizarre seeing their vehicles crossing the Pennines. Crosville themselves had only recently been bought by ATL Holdings who also owned Yelloway and the move was intended to start with a clean sheet following the severe maintenance problems.
Crosville’s operation did not last long, as from 26th February 1989 Yorkshire Rider started operation of 556.
By 1991 the service had reverted to the direct route through Sowerby Bridge between Halifax and Ripponden and became the 562, an extension of the Halifax to Rishworth service. The 562 did not run to Manchester too long and was cut back to Oldham about 1992.
In this period certain Sunday journeys were diverted to use the A640 road from Denshaw and were routed through Barkisland, a road that had only previously seen operation by North Western in the ‘twenties - and not without reason, there’s nothing there!
The service from inception had diverted off the main road in Moorside to serve Pennine Meadows, but from 15th March 1998 most journeys reverted to the main road. At the same time the Sunday service was revised and through journeys were only every two hours, short workings being introduced to Denshaw to give an hourly service. From this date both Greater Manchester and First Calderline (successor to Yorkshire Rider in Halifax) operated the service and to utilise vehicles properly the Calderline vehicles worked short journeys from Oldham to Denshaw and the Oldham buses worked journeys on Calderline’s 560 service from Halifax to Commons (above Rishworth). The first through 562 journey on a Sunday was also diverted via Commons, a feature which lasted until the end of 562 operation.
A minor change from 25th February 2001 saw the service extended to use the new Cheapside Bus Station in Oldham. The final extension to the service came from 4th April 2005 when daytime journeys were extended to Royton and the service once more served Pennine Meadows during the day.
The through service finished after 28th January 2006 except, bizarrely, on a Sunday. At other times a truncated Oldham to Denshaw service was operated by Vale of Manchester. The Sunday operations continued until 16th April 2006, from which date the Oldham to Denshaw service resurrected the 407 number (see that collection). One of the reasons for the renumbering is that 562 was a number in a West Yorkshire series and there was already a 562 service in Greater Manchester. This had resulted latterly in buses with electronic blind displays going to Halifax showing “562 Withins Circular” (a Bolton service) as they had not been programmed for the Halifax service.
The main operation of the 562 has been by the operators described above, although latterly most workings were by First Manchester. It was complicated in latter years as it was transferred between the First depots at Oldham and Halifax without the timetable leaflets reflecting the fact. Other operators have worked school journeys and peak hour short workings from Denshaw to Oldham as shown below:
Vale of Manchester - School journeys 1994 to 1997
Bee Line - Evening peak journeys 1994 to 1995
Stott’s - -School journeys 2001 to 2002
Dennis’s - School journeys 2002 to 2005
Stagecoach - School journeys 2005 to 2006
Note that this list may not be complete or fully accurate. Any corrections welcomed!
© David Beilby