This service was introduced with bus deregulation and first ran on 27th October 1986 as there was no Sunday service. For a tendered service it had great stability, particularly in the earlier years as the same operator worked it for almost ten years.
The route was another constant. Buses left Ashton by Mossley Road, then served top Mossley, bottom Mossley, Micklehurst and passed Hey Farm Estate without leaving the main road. At the Royal George the route was to Greenfield Clarence, Uppermill, Dobcross village, Delph New Road, Delph village, Palin Wood Road and then via New Tame to Denshaw. From Ashton to Delph this route is identical to the present-day 350 with the exception of the loop through Dobcross village.
The original operator was S. M. Tandy of Mossley, trading as Checkmate Mini Coaches and the buses ran every two hours Monday to Saturday daytime. Within a year the Saturday operation had been cut back to an hourly Ashton to Greenfield service. One feature that appeared in 1987 for a short while was an early evening service from Denshaw to Uppermill (Saddleworth School) and late evening return on Mondays and Thursdays only. This was provided for adults attending evening classes at the school.
There were additional school journeys that also appeared in the 352 timetable. Originally there was the 825, which was between Denshaw and Uppermill and originally worked by Ribble. This later disappeared but by 1996 school journeys had reappeared, but now numbered 352. At this time they were worked by Vale of Manchester and were integrated with their operation of the 407 (q.v.) as they ran as through journeys towards and sometimes even to, or from, Manchester.
From 2nd September 1996 the school journeys were worked by Pioneer of Rochdale and were contracted to operate as far as Grains Bar. At the same time the operator for the main service changed for the first time to become Glossopdale. They continued operation until 14th February 1999, when they were taken over by Stagecoach who continued the operations for some time.
Stagecoach operation came to an unusual end as they were having a fleet-wide problem with their Mercedes-Benz Vario minibuses. JP Travel took over from 25th February 2002, usually using a low-floor Optare Solo, but it was operated by Bluebird for about a week prior to handover. In 2004 Speedwell Travel of Glossop took over operation and they continued until 29th October 2004, when the last journey was worked by R944 MDB. This was on a Friday - the Saturday service had ceased running in 1997.
© David Beilby