BY ROGER CHADWICK
The end of June 1958 saw Mum, Gran and I make the annual pilgrimage from Glen Wood to Godley Station. We were on our way to the annual fortnight in Bournemouth.
But that summer saw me staying in Bournemouth working on a market garden – for at that time Hyde had absolutely no work for temporary or unskilled workers.
The pay at the market garden was low, the work boring and at times dangerous as I was shinning up ladders rolling “sylglass” between the greenhouse panes or taking new growth from the axils of tomato plants and for variety, feeding each and every cucumber plant in a vast greenhouse with one barrel-load of horse muck per day. The summer did have its bonuses – I found very good “digs”, a smashing girlfriend whose father worked for De Havilland and I came home brown as a berry, ready for third year at Durham University.
This was the time when I realised I could not be in Hyde for much longer and still needed to work for the family income. An enquiry at the Office of the North Western Road Car Company informed me that there was work for “temps” in the summer months. I jumped at the chance!
I spent a fortnight in Conductor School and was then assigned to Glossop Garage and placed under the watchful eye of a senior conductor and an Inspector. Very soon I was in charge of a vehicle and when on early shift, learnt to wake up at 0300 hrs, brew up, dress smartly in full uniform and stand under the lamp on Mottram Road(A 57) waving my billy can and hitching a lift so as to take a bus out for 0500. Most days I got a potato lorry bound for West Yorkshire but then meant a long walk from The Gun Inn, Hollingworth to Charles Street in Glossop. Sometimes a newspaper van would oblige. Occasionally one of the drivers would pick me up – sometimes in a car, sometimes on a motor bike. Yet I never missed a shift in three years on the buses. Thankfully most of the shifts started later and I could travel to work on the 0530 or 0600 service 125 to Glossop. Coming home at night was sometimes difficult, The Company put on a “ghost” bus for late workers as far as Mottram Junction but you never got lifts from motorists so it was “shanks pony” for 2.5 miles home! The shift that saw me work the Glossop Saturday Midnight Circular 190 taking all the boozers home was no fun when it was half past one in the morning before I got in!
Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley & Dukinfield Joint Transport and Electricity Board Crest
It was a funny feeling to work on a bus route that passed my door and which I knew so well and to sit in the crew room at Glossop with North Western and SHMD guards that knew me from boyhood. I often worked the 125 Limited Stop to Denton, Hyde and Old Glossop. It was an 8hr 31min “turn” and you worked hard with full loads to Hyde, full loads to Manchester and the same at night on return workings. On one such trip we came into Chorlton Street, and went out immediately, fully loaded.. Late running was frowned upon. Traffic jams were frequent around the city and you didn’t get a clear road until beyond Ardwick.
Going down Broomstair Brow I was desperate but I knew that there were facilities in Hyde Bus Station. Never was I so glad to arrive at Hyde Bus Station and find relief – but then – it suddenly dawned upon me that I was in a cubicle! There had been no urinal and I was too desperate to notice. I did now – I was in THE LADIES!!! I really do remember breaking into a cold sweat. Was I going to be arrested? Someone might have already called the police for our bus was fully loaded and waiting immediately outside. What if a lady came in? Here goes – with head held high walked out pretending that nothing untoward had occurred, I emerged into the sunlight. Suddenly there was a roar of laughter and cheering from the passengers and driver! They had all seen what had happened and were going to make the most of it. It took me weeks to live that episode down. Nowadays, such an incident would be world news!
Hyde Bus Station - The toilets were to the left behind the bus shelters.
I learn a lot about the British Public whilst on the buses and I will come to that in the next chapter. My first driver warned me when I started that I would learn things about people’s behaviour that no college course could teach. Bye – he was right – but they were good years with eight to ten weeks on buses, enjoying the travel, the “crack” with mates and the fun with passengers. Of course, there was the bonus of good wages, plenty of overtime, Sunday double time, rest day working, spread-over penalty payments for split shifts. I was to get married in 1963 with this “bus money” behind me! My mother, instead of taking my wages for board and lodge took the money and then secretly saved it all up for when I needed it.
In some ways, these were the happiest years of my life!!
Thanks to Roger for his continuing memories of Hyde.
They are much welcomed and enjoyed ! :)