David Beilby | Early bus services

Created 15-Dec-12
Modified 15-Dec-12
Visitors 180
1 photos
Many of the early bus services in Saddleworth are dealt with elsewhere in the gallery, as they developed to become part of the more permanent network. However, not surprisingly, not every early service prospered and this gallery is to cover these other services.

Often the reasons that the bus routes didn't prosper was because licensing restrictions dictated where they could run, rather than traffic demand. It was inevitable that such routes would wither once a more sensible alternative was established.

Sadly, the early demise of these services means that photographs of them are very scarce.


Apart from the solitary bus service to Denshaw run from 1914-1916, the first attempt at a bus service in the district was one by Holt Brothers of Rochdale who ran as the Yellow Bus Service, this company was the progenitor of the famous Yelloway, who came back into the story much later in 1986.

In early April 1923 Holt Brothers wrote to the various councils asking to run a bus service which seems to have been from Lees Brook to Grains Bar through Uppermill, Delph and Denshaw. Oldham Corporation Tramways Committee agreed subject to the service starting from County End instead of Lees Brook.

The service started shortly after but seems to not have been that originally proposed as "certain irregularities" were reported to the Tramways Committee very quickly. In June 1923 there were complaints to Saddleworth Urban District Council that tree lopping was being carried out (to make for safe operation for open-top double-deckers) without authority or permission and even at 0300 hrs! Overcrowding and the practice of buses stopping side-by-side and blocking the road were also issued raised. One bus came to grief in Delph when during road repairs the carriageway had been repaired with cinders - this caused the bus to sink in on that side and tilt alarmingly.

Although Saddleworth UDC issued licences to both Holt Brothers and North Western in 1924, it appears that the Holt Brothers service finished soon after the North Western service started that year.


One early North Western service which was soon withdrawn was one that used a road that hasn't been served by a regular bus service since, which is Huddersfield Road from Denshaw. This service ran from Oldham to Elland originally and started by November 1925, although the service beyond Denshaw was limited to two journeys a day at weekends only. In April 1926 it was shown as four journeys to Elland at weekends, combined with a return trip from Elland to Barkisland, although reduced to two through journeys again by the following October.

From 15th April 1927 the service was extended from Elland to Halifax (King Edward Street - although the poster I have seen had been hand-altered from Southgate) and improved with six through journeys per day on Saturdays, five on Sundays and three during the week. However, by 15th February 1928 the service was shown as suspended and never ran again.

The only other service ever to go over Buckstones Moor was a summer Sunday variation on the 556 or 562 many years later (see that gallery).

Guestbook for Early bus services
David Gartside(non-registered)
The Denshaw to Huddersfield road (Nont Sarahs),A640, was a busy commercial route until the M62 opened in 1970/71. Several hundred lorries a day would pass my grandmother's house on Church Terrace, locally known as Jam & Banana Row, because it housed the foremen from Denshaw Vale Printworks (Butterworth & Co). The occupants could eat jam and bananas whilst lower order of workers often survived on bread and dripping etc. My grandfather was chairman of The Junction Cooperative Society. The village, in the 50s, included 5 pubs, a bakery, post office, chippy, co-op with 4 or 5 departments and a branch at Green Ash (midway to Delph), a cobblers. Earlier, in Edwardian times, my 4 maternal great aunts each kept a shop counter in the front rooms of their rented cottages (from Butterworths) within 2 rows just above the Printers Arms. 1 row of 4 still survives and you can see the doorsteps of the demolished row lower down but still above the pub.
Back to the A640 - the gaunt building known now as Buckstones Lodge was a petrol station in the 50s!
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