This service started on 11th March 1925 running from Diggle to Roaches, where it connected with SHMD trams. Following an agreement with SHMD it was changed by August 1928 to run from Diggle, through Uppermill and Grasscroft to Mossley and in general, that was how it remained. It ran hourly, combining with the Mossley to Delph service to give a half-hourly service from Mossley to Saddleworth station. It was given the number 157 before the war but buses didn’t generally show it for some years.
Even wartime had little impact on the timetable, the only reduction was on Sundays, when the service ran every two hours.
I believe that in the early 1960s SHMD ceased operation of their Mossley local service from Mossley to Roughtown and to maintain the link the 157 was diverted along Carrhill Road to serve Roughtown, however I have been unable to confirm this. Certainly only later timetables refer to it going that way, but as even recent 353 timetables have been confusing on that point they clearly cannot be relied upon.
By 1970 certain journeys to Diggle were routed down the hill at Greenfield station and then turned left up Chapel Road to return to the normal route. I am not aware that any did the same thing in the opposite direction. I believe it was a link for people in Mossley working in the mills at that end of Greenfield. I used to travel regularly on one of these workings.
From January 3rd 1972 some journeys were diverted to serve Dobcross village, the first time buses had done so. Initially there were two journeys from Diggle and four towards Diggle, but more buses soon ran that way. In 1972/3 the terminus at Diggle was changed to a new turning circle in the old railway goods yard. This avoided reversing, although one-man operated buses had been doing that for many years.
The 157 was renumbered 437 from 2nd December 1973.
From 21st July 1974 the 437 was replaced on every day except Sunday by the new Carrcote to Diggle service (431 to 434), but it still ran on Sundays as the only bus link to Diggle, although not via Dobcross. I believe the 437 stopped serving Carrhill Road at the same time as that road would only have had a Sunday service.
The Sunday 437 carried on until 20th July 1980, but was then replaced by the 356. This was essentially the same service, numbered to be associated with the 353 to 355, but Dobcross village was now served by all (three) journeys a day. However, service reductions saw the withdrawal of the 356 by 4th December 1983.
I recall reading in the paper in the sixties that North Western had obtained a licence for a direct Oldham to Diggle service, but this didn’t come to pass until the introduction of the 431 to 434 services in 1974. Nonetheless there was a good link from Oldham to Diggle as the 157 always waited for the 14 to arrive in Uppermill before leaving for Diggle. This connection was never publicised in the timetables and in fact at that time I remember it the timetables indicated that they did not connect by two minutes! One of the reasons it was adhered to was that the 14 in that direction was always a North Western bus as well.
Although Uppermill would seem a logical point for making crew changes, in my experience many of these were actually done at the Farrar’s Arms. This had the advantage of changing at a quiet stop (always easier) but, knowing North Western, was probably also done to cut to the absolute minimum the driving “on the cushions” to the crew change point.
The 157 was worked by North Western’s Oldham garage until the SELNEC took over the Greater Manchester operations from 1st January 1972. The separate company that had been formed became SELNEC Cheshire division from 4th March 1972. This did not last long and from 21st May 1973 the Cheshire division was disbanded, the former North Western garage in Oldham was closed and the service was worked from the former Oldham Corporation garage. SELNEC PTE became Greater Manchester PTE from April 1st 1974 and that was the operator until the cessation of the service.
© David Beilby