Sunday, 7 May 2017

Of trolley buses and a company called SELNEC

The trolley bus never did much for me.

They were much quieter than the bus or the old trams but they always made me feel ill.  I think it was the combination of the heat and the smell of the leather seats with the disinfectant which I found uncomfortable.

Stevenson Square December 1966, the last Manchester trolley bus
But they were a common enough sight in many of our cities to warrant a bit of a story.

I can’t remember using them at home but London Transport operated them for thirty years on 68 routes with 1811 trolley buses.

Here in Manchester the service which began in 1938 covered 9 routes using 189 vehicles.

Ours came off the road in 1966 and this one in Stevenson Square was the last in the December of that year.  Stevenson Square was the terminus of trolleybus services to Audenshaw and Stalybridge.

Piccadilly with an Ashton-Under-Lyne trolley bus, 1960
Nor were we alone in operating trolley buses, and it is equally possible that had you jumped on a trolley bus to Ashton-Under-Lyne it would have been the blue and cream ones operated by Ashton Corporation.

They had been quicker off the mark staring operations in the February of 1925 on five routes with just 19 trolley buses and like Manchester abandoned them in 1966.

This was just three years before I arrived in the city so the sight of this Ashton trolley bus in Piccadilly around 1960 is one lost to me.

But I do just remember the sheer number of corporation bus companies in the city in 1969.

The green livery of the joint Transport and Electricty Board
Along with the disticntive red livery of Manchester and the blue and cream of Ashton there was the green of Salford and the green of the Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Joint Transport and Electricity Board along with the maroon and cream colours of Oldham.

And no doubt if I dug deeper I could come up with the routes of some of the neigboring authorites whoses trams, trolley buses and motor buses entered the city.  All of which came to an end in 1969 with the formation of a unified bus company covering the whole of greater Manchester and initially known as SELNEC, or South East Lancashire North East Cheshire.

A SELNEC bus, 2008
Its orange and white livery would not have been my choice but then having to choose a colour scheme which did not upset the local feelings of the eleven participating bus companies would always have meant coming up with something very different.

This was a huge undertaking, covering a large conurbation and an operation broken down into four divisions, each with their own different coloured logo.

And for those who like these things here are the eleven corporation companies, the number of vehicles they brought to the enterprise and the division they belonged to.

Now that will endear me to some but risk the derision of others who mutter train spotter, which is a little inaccurate given that this began as a story about trolley buses and has gone way beyond that.

So with that in mind I shall take leave of the almost silent successor to the tram.

Stalybridge bus station and the last Ashton trolley bus, 1966
Pictures; Manchester Corporation trolley bus, Stevenson Square 1966, and Ashton-Under-Lyne Corporation trolley bus, Stalybridge bus station, 1966 © Alan Murray-Rust, Wikipedia Commons, Ashton-Under-Lyne Corporation trolley bus in Piccadilly, 1960, and Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley & Dukinfield Transport & Electricity Board motor bus from the collection of J.F.A.Hampson, SELNEC Bus, Mikey from Wythenshawe, Museum of Transport, Wikipedia Commons

1 comment:

  1. Dave whitehead7 May 2017 at 13:17

    There was also selnec cheshire.which was the old north western road car co.altrincham depot.other depots split into South and Northern.