Tuesday 21 March 2023

Macclesfield Matters (2)

It's Complicated From 1972

In 1972, fbb was not watching the latest Hammer film, but he was getting engaged to the future Mrs fbb and working hard as Head of RE at a Sheffield comprehensive school. Meanwhile, across the Pennines, significant things were happening in Macclesfield.

North Western Road Car (according to Wikipedia) had depots all over the place.

Altrincham: Oakfield Street
Biddulph: Whalley Street
Buxton: Bridge Street
Castleton, Back Street
Glossop: York Street
 Macclesfield: Sunderland Street 
Manchester: Hulme Hall Road
Matlock: Bakewell Road
Northwich: Chester Way
Oldham: Clegg Street
Stockport: Charles Street
Urmston: Higher Road
Wilmslow: Church Street

The National Bus Company agreed to sell its depots and bus services at Altrincham, Glossop, Oldham, Stockport and Urmston to SELNEC (South East Lancashire North East Cheshire i.e. Manchester PTE). This was the trigger to obliterate NWRCC completely.

The depots at Buxton and Matlock transferred to Trent and the Manchester Base eventually became National Travel North West as a centre for coach operations.

So what to do with the rest?

Buses that went to SELNEC soon started appearing in orange and white ...
... with a SELNEC Cheshire logo.
Buses that went to Trent remained red, but in a different shade, which left the rest to be sorted.

Biddulph, Castleton, Northwich and Wilmslow were lumped on to the vast Crosville empire and went from red ...
... to green. fbb cheated yesterday with his green decker; he "painted out" the Crosville fleet name to annoy you all.
So by the time this video was filmed in 1988 Crosville privatisation Green has totally supplanted the traditional NWRCC red.
Note the profusion of bread van minibi AND wrong side loading still applies.

In the cut price bargain basement sell off of the National Bus Company, (and later the PTEs) the SELNEC south area went to Stagecoach; Trent remained (and still remains) with its management buyout; Crosville was split two ways both snaffled by Arriva with one chunk welshified as  Arriva Cymru.

So Macclesfield became an Arriva town. 

Meanwhile, and in no particular order, the Trent operation in Buxton became High Peak Buses and D & G expanded significantly.

So, we get to next month (Monday April 24th)  when Arriva disappears in a puff of exhaust smoke, and the Peddle owned Centrebus group (D & G plus High Peak) becomes the dominant operator in Macclesfield.

But before we look at service changes, there is a fascinating diversion to be enjoyed in the form if two apparently squashed Bedford VAL vehicles. 
One of these had a second life as a schools bus bus ...
... but the low roof height was replicated on replacement Bristol REs.
The vehicles subsequently appeared in Crosville green and later National Bus green.
As the green version indicates, they ran on bus route 37 which was routed via Dunham Massey. Dunham Massey is a village, and nearby is Dunham Massey House and Park.
Dunham Massey village is off the map on the left separated from House and Park by Dunham Woodhouses. But if you follow Woodhouse Lane (ORANGE) between the two it, unusually, goes UNDER the watercourse. The wet stuff is the Bridgwater Canal, famed for its aqueduct over the Manchester Ship Canal.
It swings, man!

Or it did when the Manchester Ship Canal carried real ships!
The bit if the Bridgwater Canal between Dunham Massey and Dunham Massey ...
... is raised up on a slight embankment and the road goes underneath. The bridge is low, although it looks as if the road has been deepened more recently than when the squashed buses were necessary.
The Dart seems to be managing! But there are now very noticeable kerbs which appear to give vehicles an extra foot or so in old money.
Today's service along the same road is the 280.
...which runs from Sale ...
... via Carrington and Partington ...
...then back on itself via Dunham Massey to Altrincham.
It is operated with minibuses from GoGoodwins using their brand "Little Gem".
It is a remarkably good service, hourly Monday to Saturday ...
... and a Sunday service from Altrincham to Dunham Massey only, operated by, guess who, Arriva!

And, yes, you do remember aright. "Little Gem" was a Manchester PTE small bus brand.
In the Mancunian days of minibus madness, there were lots of them.

Tomorrow fbb will try to unravel what is to happen to Arriva's services in Macclesfield - but don't expect too much in the way of success.

 Next Macclesfield blog : Wednesday 22nd March 


  1. I think that the Dunham Massey canal bridge used to be an arch, the same shape as the special bus roofs.

  2. Andrew Kleissner21 March 2023 at 09:22

    That makes me think of the specially-shaped Southampton trams which had to pass through the ancient Bargate, or the buses which plied London's Rotherhithe and Blackwall tunnels.

  3. The Bridgewater Canal has two E's, unlike the Somerset town.