Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Book Review (Diverted via Rochdale)

One of the things that fbb enjoys when reading a good book about the bus industry and its history is to take some extracts from published pictures and attempt to recreate them from Google Streetview today. How do the history pics compare with the 21st century?

fbb was thus flipping through the pages of his recently acquired publication to see what might be of interest - then and now. This one was a real poser.

The caption reads (expurgated by fbb).

Manchester PD2/37 3660 comes into Rochdale on the 24. It's passing Weir Street, home of the famous Yelloway Coaches. Note the chalk board advertising an Excursion to Belle Vuew, Manchester.

So, orf we jolly well go to Google Maps to find Weir Street, Rochdale.

It does not exist - it has gorn. A further diligent search reveals that the Manchester bus is trundling along Smith Street, so maybe that will get us to where we want to be.

No Weir Street. Try Streetview ...
... and there is the bus station with the tram stop opposite.
Google Earth even shows ... 
... tram stop, bus station and a river which might have had a weir. If we go back in time and look at the same place (date unknown) things look very different.
Lower left is the end of Weir Street where the 24 was photographed, bottom centre is the bridge over the river, the parapet of which is about the only remainder of the old days.

At one time the property next to the parked coaches was the Yelloway enquiry office ...
... but it later moved into the block at the Bridge Street Weir Street junction (note bridge parapet, lower right).
A local press article merged old and new pictures ...
... showing how the new building - the HQ of Rochdale Council - has supplanted the coaching history.

But there is a plaque in the Council building reminding all and sundry who enter the hallowed portals, that there was real history on the site.
Yelloway began as a goods carrier with a "chara" body lifted on to the lorry to earn a penny or two at weekends.
It grew into a really big operator with its distinctive cream and orange vehicles (they never were really yellow!) ...
... which ran long distance services all over the north and down to the south coast and south west.
Yelloway even had its own coach station in Blackpool!
It is not clear why this iconic and apparently successful company should have declined so completely. OK, traditional coach based "bucket and spade" holidays were out of favour, but other operators survived, at least until Covid!

But, back in the day, the crowds would make their way down the short Weir Street, having pre-loaded their luggage and all the essentials for a traditional UK holiday be the sea ...
... warm clothing, hats and, possibly, a knotted handkerchief for the unlikely appearance of a golden ball in the sky. Let the jollity begin!
An iconic company, an iconic and less that beautiful depot, but one which brought happiness and relaxation to hundreds of thousands. Yes, the world has changed, but a glass and concrete office block just doesn't evoke the memories and experiences of the old place!
And here is a Rochdale Corporation 24 trundling past much the same spot as the Manchester bus shown at the head of this post.
The 24 became a First Bus route ...
... but, under various reorganisations, has vanished for ever.
Yelloway, however, was reborn in 2008 when a company called Courtesy Coaches bought the rights to name and used it on their fleet of coaches.
But they are based on OLDHAM - sacrilege!

And you thought that the only interesting thing to come from Rochdale was Gracie Fields!

Back to the original plan ...

 Next Book Review blog : Wednesday 23rd September 

1 comment:

  1. Gracie Fields? Interesting? More like listening to someone scrape chalk down a blackboard!

    More seriously, and prejudice apart- the decline of Yelloway is a sad story.From 1984 all Yelloway's express services were marketed by National Express, with whom relations had always been good, although Yelloway still ran the coaches and held the licences. Hubert Allen, the MD and son of the founder,was now 73 and wanted to retire. He sold the company to Carlton PSV Sales, better known as the ATL Group, who were basically asset strippers who proceeded to wreck the company, as they did (English) Crosville. The company was refocused on local bus services, mainly tendered; maintenance was appalling. The company's Operator Licence was, I believe, withdrawn by the Commissioner and the depot transferred to Crosville in 1988, leading to the unlikely sight of Crosville buses in Halifax.Its subsequent history was complex but brief, but Yelloway was no more until its recent revival - which ironically in view of the above runs some school contracts in Calderdale.