In earlier years the demand for school transport, which was in any case much less, was met by putting additional journeys on existing services. These were not usually dedicated services although sometimes they would only be used by schoolchildren.
The closest to a dedicated school bus was the early morning journey on the 156 which went from Friezland Church to Uppermill via Dacres. This continued after the 156 service was abandoned as a 157 or 158 journey and still exists even today in an extended form as the 828.
The first dedicated school bus operation I am aware of dates resulted from the opening of Colne Valley High School in Linthwaite in 1956. This was a comprehensive school and West Riding County Council started to send pupils from Saddleworth who had passed the 11 plus exam there rather than to the schools in Oldham. This needed dedicated transport as the Oldham to Huddersfield service at the time did not have the capacity, nor did it serve the new school well, as it was on top of a hill some distance from the bus route.
By the mid-sixties a coach operator called A. Seville of Greenfield and Mossley worked these services, but his vehicles were none too reliable and after a few years Stott’s of Oldham provided the vehicles. The contracts led to Stott’s buying double-deck buses for the first time and this introduced a lot of variety into the local scene as they were all second-hand.
This operation survived until 1974, when local government reorganisation saw Saddleworth become part of Oldham Metropolitan Borough and all local authority education took place to the west of the Pennines. The Colne Valley service continued for several years until the last pupils had left. Latterly the Oldham to Huddersfield service diverted via the school at school start and finish times, something which involved quite a dramatic climb.
Deregulation of buses in 1986 saw school workings become more obvious, as they were usually tendered by the PTE and often ended up with a different operator to the normal service. This situation still applies today.
There has also been a gradual increase in the number of dedicated bus services to schools. This started many years ago with Rishworth School, which had not in any case got good existing links with most of Saddleworth. Nowadays there are school buses serving Blue Coat School, Hulme Grammar School, Manchester Grammar School and Crompton House School. I may even have missed some, but these services are often low profile except to parents of children at the schools.
Some numbers allocated to school workings were as follows:
439 - Uppermill to Saddleworth Parochial School (up to 1980)
557 - Blue Coat School to Denshaw and Delph
558 - Blue Coat School to Mossley and Greenfield
803 - Lees and Mossley to Mossley Hollins
807 - Denshaw to Oldham
823 - Diggle to Uppermill
826 - Delph, Bleak Hey Nook, Diggle and Uppermill
828 - Friezland to Uppermill, later Mossley via Friezland to Uppermill
There is also a thriving market in school transport when classes go on trips near or further afield. These do not normally appear in this collection with one exception, which is trips to Saddleworth Pool in Uppermill. This involves large vehicles, sometimes double-deckers, going up some most unlikely roads to get to the car park.
I have not attempted a detailed history for this collection as it would be too complicated and in any case is not very well documented. Hopefully the photographs give a flavour of school bus operation.
© David Beilby