I'VE BEEN RIDING MANCHESTER'S BUSES for over forty years - makes
me sound old doesn't it, but I started when I was still in nappies.
My earliest memories are of those big friendly double deckers: the
smell of the interior wood and upholstery, the "ding ding"
of the bell, the jovial bus conductor whistling a merry tune while
collecting the fares, the juddery suspension, the growl of the engine
going up a hill, the smell of fuel oil...
Buses have come a long way since then, but while some things have
improved, others have got worse.
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 19:36:50 EST
revived, thanks Aiden.
dad drove the bus out of Queens road shed, now apparently the
museum. He started as a bell boy in the early 1900's on the
first world war my dad worked out of the shed as a driver until
the second world war in 1939. When he returned in 1946 he again
started as a driver, he was the first driver in the new #4 route
that went up Bury New Rd, and this is where I can't remember
where it went to, memory you know, but he took me one Saturday
and we went out into the country, past Bury, I remember an old
woman at the end filled my Dads tea can for him and gave a chocolate
digestive and a glass of Dandelion and Burdock to me.
In later years
after I came out of the army, my dad got me a job as a bus conductor
while I was waiting to be hired at the Manchester City Police.
I remembered ringing that bell, one for stop, two for go and
three for emergency. I met a lot of very nice people on the
buses, and the only trouble I had was on the 121 to Langley
on a Saturday night.
My Dad served
for 40 years on the job and received a watch and ten pounds
from a whip round. But he loved that job, driving Crossleys
and Leylands all over the city. Ray O'Neill
drove the bus above, seen this summer taking people to a wedding
at the Town Hall AOR
Last Saturday I went to a classic bus event at the Museum of Transport
in Cheetham. It was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Buses magazine,
published by Ian Allan, and to mark the 20th year that the Museum
has been open ot the public. There were old buses from other parts
of the country, as well as some from the local area I hadn't seen
for years. The North Western Bristol for instance is a bus I remember
taking as a child - it was almost a time-travelling experience to
ride on it again.
I also took the green Bury double decker, superbly restored, it almost
looks new and you have to admire its robust and practical design features.
The old-fashioned front-engined double decker is a superb piece of
British design, and is still in daily use on the streets of London.
Inside the museum you can see the changes in bus design and in local
transport organisation from the beginnings of public transport right
up to the present day.
Sat, 20 Nov 1999 17:58:22 -0500
From: David Brennan
Subject: Buses Mime-Version: 1.0 I go back a looong way. There
used to be red corporation buses with a white curly stripe on
the sides. It got wider the further back it went. What happened
to Yelloway buses? I think they used to go express, or limited
stop, to Rochdale. I used to get paced by one up Oldham Road
way home from work on a fixed gear bike.
The red and cream livery with "streamline"
stripe along the side was the pre-war Manchester livery. During
the war, a plain livery was introduced, but the curvy stripe
survived on many buses into the late forties. For pictures,
see the excellent "Looking Back at Buses, Trams and Trolleybuses",
details at the end of this feature. Yelloways used to operate
long distance coach services from the north west to London and
the south west. You can see their old timetables and adverts
at the excellent Museum of Transport - make sure you visit the
next time you're in Manchester!
You tend to see lots of men at bus events - many wearing woolly
caps and anoraks - and hardly any women. Sadly an interest in buses
and bus design is considered the domain of nerds, while an interest
in interiors, textiles or fashion is regarded as very cool and trendy.
It makes no difference to me, whether I'm taking a picture of a glamorous
supermodel or the number 7
to Cadishead, though supermodels are slightly easier to photograph
as they keep still when you want them to. And in my opinion "looks
like the back of a bus" is a compliment.
DESIGN AND EXTERIOR
till the mid-sixties
front engine rear wheel drive design, driver and conductor, platform
entrance and stairs at rear
Interior: Lighting from light bulbs, use of natural materials:
steel, leather, wood. Smoking permitted on the upper deck, prohibited
Mostly single primary colour with stripe - all white or cream
livery at seaside resorts, small adverts.
transverse mounted engine, front entrance, central exit, one man
operation, fluorescent lighting, stairs at the front and/or centre
Interior: Increasing use of fluorescent lighting, use of plastic
and "fake" wood effects. Smoking upstairs discouraged
- finally prohibited early 80's.
In Greater Manchester, a bright, "modern" livery (I
think very tacky and now very dated) of white and orange was introduced
with the creation of "Selnec"
transverse mounted engine now standard, now more powerful, quieter,
smoother and cleaner than before, destination display roll increasingly
replaced by digital matrix, "kneeling" buses for better
access, computerised ticket machines.
Interior: Bright fluorescent lights, use of pastelly, "feminine"
colours, easy-to-grip and brightly-coloured fittings for the disabled,
women and the elderly
Widespread use of pastel and brighter colours, giant adverts on
rear or whole exterior.
till the mid-sixties
corporations ran their own bus services: Manchester (red livery
- right), Salford (green) Stockport (red), Ashton (blue) etc...
sixties to mid-seventies
Most local bus services merged into unitary organisation - in
Manchester "Selnec" later "Greater Manchester Transport"
In 1986 Privatisation of bus services by Conservative government
Most local bus services run by small number of large operators
and many small operators, nearly all privately owned.
Local bus transport is more than just getting people from A to B -
it's an integral part of life in the conurbation, and a key factor
in the quality of life.
The Latin word "omnibus" "for everyone" but there
are some people who haven't taken a bus for years. Those who've graduated
upwards in social or income scale, or have always been there, often
travel exclusively by car, and wouldn't dream of getting the bus -
it would be like a "come down" for them Others rely on the
bus, particularly those at the younger and older ends of the age range.
And those at the lower end of the income range rely on the bus, and
other forms of public transport - students and the unemployed for
instance. Some companies target these groups, such as the Stagecoach-owned
I regularly take the bus - I enjoy it. It's nice to look out the
window at the city, and to share the travelling experience with other
people. There are some people, however, who I'd rather not share the
same space with: All it takes is one group of youths on the upper
deck at the back, spouting obscenities, or worse, and I stay on the
lower deck or get off. I was downstairs on the 50 on Monday afternoon,
and heard a scuffle upstairs - someone had been stabbed and an ambulance
had to be called. If there had been a conductor, this may not have
happened, which brings me on to my next point.
The bus service of 40 years ago was better, quicker, more efficient
and more enjoyable to ride on than those of today.
I'm not wallowing in nostalgia here, I'm talking fact:
more buses on the road, as less people had cars, less waiting
faster journeys due to less traffic
cars and fewer buses, slower journeys, despite bus lanes
buses had a driver and conductor, getting on and off much quicker
and easier, more security, conductor could provide information
buses are one man operation - one man or woman has to take the
fares, drive, provide information and occasionally stop and deal
buses had a very high standard of design and construction- e.g.
London Routemaster, most Manchester Corporation buses, representing
quality and reliability
the late 90's/early 00's, bus build quality is returning, but
there are still many older buses from 20 years ago with cheaper
build quality, noisy, vibrating and polluting engines
still had trolleybuses - like a bus but electrically powered from
twin overhead wires - non-polluting, quiet - a brilliantly attractive
form of municipal public transport
axed in the early sixties, a very short-sighted decision in view
of the oil crisis ten years later - the closest thing we have
now is the Metrolink tram.
The onset of the fad of modernity, with its fashion
for acronyms and simplified logos, meant the attractive diverse coats
of arms of local corporations were replaced by the meaningless "Selnec"
(South East Lancashire North East Cheshire), with two opposing dart
fins on the upper right and lower left. In 1974 this in turn was replaced
by an even more unimaginative logo, a bendy double-line M for Manchester
(actually Greater Manchester), representing perhaps the circuitous
route of a one-man bus taking ages to get to its destination.
I remember around 74-79, bus transport went down-market
- the oil crisis brought huge jumps in fares, economic problems caused
lack of investment and a deterioration in service. The yukky orange
and white livery, painted on all buses in Greater Manchester, was
meant to usher in a new age of efficiency and modernity, but for me
it represents the cost-cutting ineptitudes and dubious design values
which were a common feature of the 1970's.
In 1986, the Conservative government privatised the
buses, and the long-winded "Greater Manchester Transport"
became the unmelodious "GM Buses". Since then, companies
were bought and sold, there's been consolidation and concentration,
and Stagecoach, started by a Scottish woman called Anne Gloag, now
one of the richest women in Britain, has taken over many bus services
all over the UK. In Manchester, they operate mostly in the south of
the conurbation. FirstBus, another national company, runs the buses
mostly in the north of the Manchester area, and there are many other
smaller private operators.