John Hirst, trading as Ripponden and District, started a service from Sowerby Bridge to Oldham in 1925. This ran from the canal wharf in Sowerby Bridge and initially ran three times a day, at 9.25am, 1.45pm and 7.30pm. It was soon increased to four times a day and extended from Oldham to Manchester on Tuesdays and Thursdays, leaving the wharf at 10.35am.
The Saddleworth UDC minutes for 19th August 1925 reported J. Hirst (Ripponden and District) applying for licences for an Oldham to Sowerby Bridge service which was apparently “already in operation”. This was approved at the October 5th meeting.
John Hirst rented the Royal Oak Yard in Horton Street, Halifax after trying unsuccessfully several times to obtain a licence in Halifax. This use of private land enabled services to operate there without a licence.
From 15th April 1927 a Halifax-Oldham-Manchester service started to run every two hours and from 25th March 1929 this was increased to hourly. On the same date an extension to Northowram and Shelf was introduced and on 4th April 1930 it was further extended into Bradford.
Following the introduction of road service licensing Ripponden and District lost out to Yorkshire Woollen and North Western on the route as they successfully entered an ‘established operator’ claim to the Traffic Commissioners. As a consequence the Manchester to Bradford service was curtailed to Halifax from 8th May 1932.
North Western and Yorkshire Woollen took over this Manchester to Halifax service on 31st August 1936. It was worked as a separate service until 22nd November, when it was amalgamated into the existing operation.
The service used the Rochdale Canal Yard at 77 Dale Street (near the present Piccadilly station) as the terminus and left Manchester via Bradford (in Manchester!), rejoining the Oldham Road in Newton Heath. It stopped at Rhodes Bank in Oldham. The terminus in Bradford was at the Packard Garage on Thornton Road. It would seem that passengers could only ever be picked up in Bradford when they had return tickets - this was one of the ways of getting round the original licensing legislation.
This was an interesting operation which at the moment I am unable to illustrate. This collection comprises copies of some contemporary publicity.
Ripponden and District had other bus services in the Halifax Area and these were taken over by Halifax Joint Omnibus Committee in 1934. The company continued as a coaching and haulage business. Whilst the coaching side of the business was sold to Hebble in May 1957 the blue and cream lorries of Ripponden and District were to remain a familiar sight in Saddleworth for many more years.