This service has been the lynchpin of Saddleworth's bus routes as it has remained largely unchanged over 75 years. Until changes in 2012 to improve timekeeping even the times of departure from Greenfield were similar to what they were back in 1929!
The service has its origins in an Oldham to Greenfield service which Oldham Corporation started on 12th August 1927 and gave the route letter J. This service was jointly operated with North Western who gave it the number 69. On 15th May 1929 this service was extended to Manchester (Lower Mosley Street) and became a joint operation with Manchester Corporation and North Western numbered 10.
The 10 always ran between Oldham and Hollinwood via Copsterhill Road and Hollins, unlike the 13 and 14 which originally went via Werneth. Apart from changes in Manchester and Oldham centres it has remained unchanged.
The terminus moved from Lower Mosley Street to Parker Street on 25th October 1931. During the war it was cut back slightly to Stevenson Square and after the war to just off that square in Lever Street. There it remained for many years but by 1984 had moved into Piccadilly. From 24th September 1989 it was moved to Chorlton Street but since early 1996 it has terminated at the end of Oldham Street, just off Piccadilly. The outbound route was via Lever Street, Stevenson Square and Oldham Street until the latter was made one-way, so since 29th January 2006 it has been via Lever Street and Great Ancoats Street.
For the summer of 1995 the service was extended on Summer Sundays and Bank Holidays over the moors to Huddersfield via Holmfirth. This was repeated in 1996 but by 1997 the 180 did not run on those days and the 429 service was extended instead. However, for the 1999 season the extension also took place on a Saturday and as a result 180s again reached Huddersfield. The foot and mouth epidemic imposed such restrictions on rambling on the moors that it was not considered worth operating in 2000 and it hasn’t been extended to Huddersfield since.
From 30th September 1996 the 180 was withdrawn in the evenings and on Sundays, Greenfield being served at those times by the 429. This continued until 31st October 2004, when all journeys to Greenfield became 180s. In reality the 429 service had taken the 180 number and now operated all day, as the service from this date lost its limited stop status between Grotton and Hollinwood.
Manchester Corporation worked the service originally from Queens Road garage, but it was moved to Rochdale Road garage in 1956 after that ceased to be a trolleybus garage. When Rochdale Road closed in 1970, by which time it was in SELNEC ownership, the operation transferred again to Hyde Road, where it remained until all operation was transferred to the Oldham depot of Greater Manchester Transport in 1980.
North Western contributed one of the four buses required for the service. This was from their Oldham garage which moved from Crofton Street to Clegg Street on 15th May 1966. North Western operations in Greater Manchester were absorbed into SELNEC in 1972 and the Clegg Street garage shut from 21st May 1973, operations being moved to the much larger former Oldham Corporation garage.
One feature of all the Saddleworth services was the early morning journeys on a Sunday morning. These were operated by Oldham (latterly SELNEC from Oldham) and only ever appeared in the Oldham timetables. These last ran on 12th October 1971.
The service was reduced to hourly by 1976. All operation has been from Oldham since 1980, although the operator has undergone many name changes, from Greater Manchester Transport to GM Buses to GM Buses North and now First Manchester. The only exception was a late Friday and Saturday night journey operated by Tame Valley from 3rd October 1993, Bee Line by 12th September 1994 and Dennis’s from 26th February 1995 until these were withdrawn by 6th January 1997.
From 28th October only one bus an hour served Greenfield but on 26th January 2014 the service there improved back to half-hourly and further change took place from 31st August 2014 when journeys on the 180 became limited stop between Hollinwood and Manchester, using the same stops as the X84. Such journeys ran Monday to Saturday daytimes and were numbered X80. This change was clearly not deemed a success and from 19th July 2015 the X80 service has returned to running as a 180 and stopping at all stops.
The route is a hilly and scenic one, but its principal feature has to be the climb at Greenfield Station, involving a steep hill with a hairpin bend half-way up. This is well illustrated in this collection.
Due to the number of photographs I have of the 180 (and X80), I have created two collections, one for each direction. This makes it easier to follow the route pictorially.
© David Beilby