This was Manchester’s first trolleybus route, commencing operation on 1st March 1938 as the 28. This replaced the tram service of the same number which was at the same time extended from Ashton to Stalybridge. It was renumbered 218 from 17th April 1950.
The service originally ran into Manchester along Aytoun Street and terminated on Portland Street before leaving along London Road. However, from 16th June 1957 the service made the loop in the opposite direction as part of a one-way scheme around Piccadilly and started in the same rank of stops as the 210 and 219.
To relieve congestion on the new bays on Portland Street an additional loop was put in on Aytoun Street. Short workings down Ashton Old Road started from here and from 17th June 1957 took the number 212 for journeys as far as Audenshaw. The combination of the 218, 219 and extra workings over the common section (as 212s) gave probably the most intensive trolleybus service in Manchester, with timetabled journeys on Saturdays every 3/4 minutes.
Ashton didn’t work into Manchester along the New Road, all their workings were on the Old Road and latterly it was only Ashton trolleybuses, the few Manchester workings being covered by motorbuses. Even in the case of Ashton the conversion was gradual and at the end it was worked by a mixture.
The last trolleybus journeys on the 218 were on the final day of trolleybus operation, 30th December 1966.
© David Beilby