David Beilby | 350 - Ashton to Oldham

Created 17-Sep-11
Modified 9-Apr-16
Visitors 436
283 photos
The 350 came into being as a result of the major service changes in Saddleworth on 31st October 2004.

The origins go back to Ashton Corporation's 14 service, which ran from Ashton to Mossley, which became the 217 in SELNEC days.

Pennine Blue initiated competition with GM Buses on this corridor and from that came the 350 service, which ran from Ashton to Mossley and then continued across the valley to Micklehurst and Hey Farm Estate. The destination is not a huge source of traffic but does make for a convenient place to turn buses round.

The service to Hey Farm runs every ten minutes during the day on weekdays, but as part of the October 31st 2004 changes, two journeys an hour were extended to Oldham, essentially travelling the short distance from Hey Farm to the Royal George and then picking up the former 355 route.

At first the journeys to Oldham were worked by Oldham depot, with the Ashton to Hey Farm journeys operated from Dukinfield, but from 6th June 2005 all journeys were worked from Dukinfield.

That proved a blessing for the Saddleworth bus enthusiast, as Pennine had a varied fleet of vehicles, whereas the large influx of new vehicles at Oldham depot in 2005 resulted in other First services in Saddleworth seeing little variety.

From 31st August 2008 the 350 was diverted in Greenfield from Chapel Road to serve Greenfield station in conjunction with the redevelopment of the station.

When the new Mossley Hollins school opened on 2nd March 2011 certain journeys descended into the school grounds, giving much safer conditions for boarding and alighting.

A larger set of service revisions in Oldham saw, from 28th October 2012, the 350 replace the 415 as a service to Greenacres from Oldham. From Greenacres it continues to Waterhead to pick up the former route. From the same date the additional services on Sunday that ran to Greenfield were extended to Uppermill. The times changed as well to accommodate these changes but the more visible change about the same time was the introduction of the B9TL double-deckers from 24th September 2012, considerably improving the age profile of buses used on this service.

A short period of about three weeks commencing 4th August 2014 saw the use of an additional service number in conjunction with the temporary closure of Stamford Road in Mossley. The 350 was diverted from bottom Mossley to Tameside Hospital via Heyrod, so to provide a service from Mossley Brookbottom to Ashton a special shuttle service 351 was operated, worked by First except in the evening when it was operated by Checkmate Travel.

A detail change introduced from 26th October 2014 was curtailment of two buses on hour that ran to Hey Farm estate to only go as far as Micklehurst, which led to buses using the top section of Micklehurst Road to turn round, sections of road that had previously been used for that purpose.

From 25th January 2015 the route reverted to using Huddersfield Road instead of travelling through Greenacres. The same date also saw the introduction of a single short working from Oldham to Waterhead late at night, except on Sundays when it ran at tea-time. It also saw the end of the short workings to Uppermill on Sundays, as these were extended to Oldham giving a more frequent through service.

New tenders operational form 12th April 2015 saw a major change in that evening services were worked by Stagecoach, hitherto all services but a morning schools journey on the 350 had been worked by First. These workings were from Ashton depot.

This service has seen more than its fair share of diversions, many of which are covered in this gallery. My normal policy is to put diversions at the end of a gallery, but in this case they are located at an appropriate place as you progress along the route. Sometimes that's quite difficult as the diversions were so different from the normal route!