This former Stockport Leyland Titan PD2 with East Lancashire bodywork is preserved at a GMPTE vehicle no 5871, seen here working the free shuttle service on October 15th 2016. The bus took part in a special two anniversary celebrations of 30 years of Deregulation in Manchester.
The South East Lancashire North East Cheshire (SELNEC) years
In 1969 a new modern fresh approach to public transport had begun, with the creation of a Passenger Transport Executive for the Manchester and Cheshire areas. This new company South East Lancashire North East Cheshire (SELNEC) was responsible for moving passengers around, it would have to answer to the Passenger Transport Authority, for any mistakes through poor reliable service, maintenance and timekeeping.
SELNEC also had to co-ordinate services, through ticketing, revised staff payment, depots, buses and information for passengers at bus stations. The company also wanted powers to improve the local railway network, with improved rolling stock. Connecting Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria railway stations using an underground link called the ‘Picc-Vic’ line.
For road passengers the changes came fast, coordinated service between the cities and towns, the new Trans-Lancs express route and the vision of the future of bus travel the standard bus. SELNEC had ordered the Leyland Atlantean and Daimler (later Leyland) Fleetline chassis, with Northern Counties or Park Royal bodywork. The first six were Atlantean PDR1A/1 chassis with Northern Counties bodies numbered EX1-6. EX7-16 were based on the Daimler Fleetline CRG6LXB chassis, again like the Atlanteans with single door Northern Counties bodies. EX17-21 were built on the Daimler Fleetline chassis, but with dual door way Northern Counties bodies. EX1-21 carried SELNEC names rather than district area names, due to the fact they were used to try the type across the entire network. Standards 7206-7251 and 7280-7281 were only production dual door way production version built, all on the Daimler Fleetline with Northern Counties bodies.
The first of 21 EX class standard SELNEC layout double deckers EX1 is posed at the 2009, highly successful SELNEC 40 rally. EX1-6 had Leyland Atlantean PDR1A/1 Chassis with new style Northern Counties bodywork, which would fitted to over 1000 Atlantean and Fleetline chassis from 1972 to 1983.
Deliveries of the new standards commenced in August 1972 with Park Royal bodied 7001, which started a new series of fleet numbers, as Atlanteans and Fleetlines were mixed together. 328 standards were placed into service by SELNEC, but in April 1974 a new operator would take control. But before that happened SELNEC tried the Metro-Scania saloon and the Leyland National saloons for comparative tests, again the first few carried EX numbers. EX30-37 were Leyland Nationals with B46D bodies, while EX38-41 were B40D bodied Leyland Nationals. While EX42-49 were Metro-Scania/MCW B44D bodies, with EX50-53 being Metro-Scania/MCW B40D bodies, as it turned out the nippy but diesel thirsty Scania saloons lost out to the Leyland National. SELNEC placed an order for 105 Leyland Nationals, with numbers 101-170 delivered in 1975 and having B41F integral bodywork. Numbers 171-205 were delivered in 1977 and 1979 and had longer chassis with integral B49F bodies.
The Leyland National series 1 deliveries began during 1975, after being ordered by SELNEC, with 70 B41F integral vehicles arriving. More Nationals were delivered in 1977 and 1979 as numbers 171-205. Here 105 which in preserved by the SELNEC Preservation Society is parked at Sports City in Manchester.
The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) years
On April 1st 1974 the new Greater Manchester Metropolitan County Council would assume control of all public transport within the Greater Manchester area, with more co-operation with the National Bus Company (NBC) subsidiaries. In July 1974 the new centre-line service commenced linking Piccadilly and Victoria stations, with a flat fare rate of 2p, however by 1981 the fare had risen to 12p. In 1976 GMPTE took over control of the independent company Lancashire United, which operated 363 buses and coaches. An order for the Bristol VRT chassis, was swapped for the Leyland Fleetline, in full Lancashire United specification and livery. However by 1978 the LUT operation was integrated into the GMPTE fleet, making some interesting livery applications, by 1981 the LUT was fully absorbed into the GMPTE fleet.
New bus deliveries were painfully slow during the early stages of the GMPTE era, with problems of spares and supplies. Coupled with trade union disputes and the three day working week, all compounded the problem, towards the end of the 1970’s the situation improved. New Atlanteans and Fleetlines, with standard bodies arrived mixed in with ten integral MCW/Scania Metropolitan double deckers, two Foden N/C Fleetline concept/evaluation double deckers. Later experimental or evaluation vehicles included the Volvo Ailsa MKII with Northern Counties bodywork, the Scania BR112DH double deck chassis again bodied by Northern Counties and the three Northern Counties bodied Dennis Falcon V double deck chassis.
The Leyland titan TN-series was the all integral answer to Leyland's post Atlantean era, which was by 1977 feeling its age. This new Gardner powered chassis with Leyland's Hydrocyclic gearbox was the dream, of which the Atlantean could have been. GMPTE were interested with the new vehicle, so much so they placed an order for 190 examples. However after 18 months, just fifteen had been delivered leading to a frustrated PTE cancelling the order and approaching MCW for their MKI Metrobus integral double deck chassis. Preserved Titan 4002 is seen at Sports City during the SELNEC 40 event.
Leyland was designing a new integral double deck chassis which would have replaced the ageing Atlantean and inherited Fleetline and VRT chassis from around 1979. GMPTE was taken with the idea of the new Titan TN-series double decker, and so placed an order for 190. These were supposed to be delivered from late 1979 until early 1981, however as it transpired the disruption at AEC and Park Royal saw on fifteen Titans delivered between 1978-1980. This led to GMPTE cancelling the remaining Titans, as the operator turned to MCW for its post 1970’s new double deck orders. 190 MCW Metrobus MKI versions were delivered from 1979 until 1983. In 1983, after 1451 was delivered and evaluated from 1980 with a unique Northern Counties body, the first of 25 new Leyland Olympians arrived and like 1451, 3001-3015 were powered by the TL11 engine. While 3016 had a Gardner LXB unit installed, with 3017-3025 being powered with LXCT Gardner engines. The remaining Olympians 3026-155 had the specially adapted Northern Counties bodywork with thick pillar between the first and second upper saloon front windows.
The MCW Metrobus arrived in the 1980's in the shape of 5001-190 all as MKI versions of the popular second generation rear engine double deckers. Here preserved 5001 is paused out side the Queens Road bus depot during late 2012, it is owned by the SELNEC preservation Society.
During 1981 the PTE decided to introduce a newer livery for the fleet, stepping away from the inherited SELNEC orange and white scheme. A deep brown colour was used with orange taking most of the bodywork, with the upper saloon windows and roof being white. However the PTE was starting to face newer challenges, not only from national government, but local council members along with the abolition of the Metropolitan County Council. As then 1984 ‘white paper’ was announced in the summer of 1984, it was later fleshed out as the 1985 ‘Transport Act’ or deregulation. As GMPTE could no longer operate any form of public transport service a new company was established GMBuses. But before any services were registered by the new operator, GMPTE withdrew a number of the Standards and several Leyland Nationals. This new commercial era would see many changes, not only on the buses but the trains and the installation of the Metrolink tramway.
The Greater Manchester Buses (GMBuses) era
Leyland Olympian 3178 with Northern Counties standard bodywork is seen pausing in the West Yorkshire market town of Todmorden. Rochdale and the West Yorkshire PTE had worked the 590 route jointly for several years, it continued during the initial years of Deregulation, with Yorkshire Rider buses venturing to Rochdale and Piccadilly in Manchester.
With a reduced fleet of buses GMBuses began the new free spirited era of commercial enterprise of public transport in reasonable god health. But they faced competition from various smaller fleets, with some using former GMPTE standards. GMPTE also had to ensure that the services were registered, which in the end managed to acquire some 68% of the routes, about 320 services. Three bus depots were closed during 1986, with work transferred to other depots. The PTE also looked into naming the new operation, which after several variations were mulled over, it was GMBUSES. This name continued with the good fortune and the livery of the GMPTE, which worked, allowing the public time to adjust to the new era. More standard bodied Olympians arrived, this time in the new pale Express livery, again like many fleets some vehicles were left with a dealer. These were 28 Northern Counties bodied Olympians, which in time were dispatched to London for use as the ‘Bexleybus’ operation.
In July 1986 more MCW Metrobus chassis were delivered to GMBuses, but with Northern Counties bodywork a unique and one off batch. These were powered by Cummins L10 engines (5201-5210), while 5301-5320 were powered by Gardner engines. Three new Volvo Citybuses with Northern Counties bodies were also delivered, based on the Volvo B10M chassis with a turbo charged 9.6 litre engine. Four integral Leyland Lynx saloons were also amongst the new orders, with turbo charged Gardner 6HLXCT engines coupled to the popular ZF gearbox.
The thirty Northern Counties bodied MCW MKII Metrobuses were to remain unique, as they also had high backed coach seating for the various interurban express services within the Manchester area. Here 5320 which is part of the extensive SELNEC collection is seen exiting Boyle Street in Cheetham Hill, Manchester. While taking part in a heritage weekend of bus operations during October 2012.
For the new era as previously mentioned many buses were withdrawn before GMBuses actually began operating. 235 standard Fleetlines, 129 Atlanteans, 70 Leyland Nationals, 15 Leyland Titan TN–series, 10 MCW Metrobuses and finally four Dennis Dominators. This was a massive fleet reduction, as fears grew of the uncertainty of Deregulation, news of more depot closures arrived as on the day, October 26th 1986. Two depots in Manchester, Northernden & Birchfields road along with Salford’s famous Frederick road depot. These areas were now storing the 450 withdrawn buses from the GMPTE fleet. Kirkby Central a renowned dealer and GMPTE both worked together to dispose of the withdrawn buses, as mentioned some returned to Manchester’s streets with smaller operators. At the point of Deregulation GMBuses had 2003 vehicles, with 1768 double deckers and 235 single deckers. Place into the mix the minibus boom of the 1980’s, GMBuses had taken delivery of 40 Dodge S56 minibuses with Northern Counties bodies, more followed including a batch of 50 Robin Hood bodied Iveco Ford minibuses and 80 MCW integral Metroriders, all of which were purchased to combat rival United Transport’s Bee Line Buzz Company’s 225 minibuses. By 1988 GMBuses had some 355 minibuses within a fleet of 2025 vehicles. New deliveries were 28 Olympians, new in 1988, with standard bodies, with ten Dennis Dominators in 1991, ten Volvo Citibuses and three Scania N113 chassis all of which were the last traditional standard style Northern Counties bodywork.
In 1983 GMPTE took delivery of two Scania BR112DH chassis with Northern Counties bodies, both passed to GMBuses in 1986, then to GMS in 1994. 1461 is seen here paused between duties in the full GMBuses post GMPTE livery.
In 1993 after another Conservative win in the General Election, there were added pressures of GMBuses size to be reduced, the minister for transport John McGregor earmarked GMBuses for such action. This was later carried out during 1994 with GMN GMBuses North and GMS GMbuses South, which was proceeded by much deliberation and influence from the major players in the country. However this was to become the final act of the GMbuses saga, no sooner had the paint dried on the dotted lines, that changes were a foot. Both GMN and SMS were purchased by Management/Employee buy-outs, which seemed pretty good. As with all things, nothing lasted forever and two of the biggest companies were knock at their doors. First group had made advances towards GMN, which was in a unique position to acquire the operator. It was far enough away as to not envelope the West Yorkshire operation of the former WYPTE operation. This purchase was allowed by the MMC, who kept a keen eye on proceedings. After all the arguments before the creation of GMS, of it reservations about Stagecoach, the Scottish based firm had finally purchased the fleet it wanted. This is how the story ends, as both First and Stagecoach continue to operate services within the Greater Manchester area, along with the ever expanding Metrolink tramway and newcomer to the area Arriva.
GMN took over the northern half of the GMBuses operation due to political pressure, during 1994. However by 1997 the GMN fleet was purchased by First Group, who were beginning to snap up four of the seven PTE areas, form 1996 onwards. MCW Metrobus MKI is seen passing through Piccadilly working an Oldham depot route 83.
The BIG Orange remembering Manchester's PTE buses
In 2004 The Manchester Museum of Transport (MotM) celebrated four land marks in the Greater Manchester transport arena, 35 years since SELNEC, 30 years since GMPTE, 18 years since GMBuses and 10 years since GMN & GMS. It was a large one-off two event taking in Manchester’s transport heritage and history, it was a huge success. However the SELNEC preservation Society were planning a large gathering of vehicles to remember the creation of SELNEC in 1969, across the weekend of October 31st and November 1st 2009. Both MotM and SELNEC combined the event with opening the museum and hiring car park 2 at Sports City the home of Manchester City. Like the Big Orange, SELNEC 40 was a huge success even if the weather proved somewhat damp at times. Naturally the next event was the 30th anniversary of Deregulation, where GMPTE buses created a new operation of GMBuses, which arrived on October 15th & 16th 2016.
To replace the Seddon Pennine IVs, the GMPTE looked to the newly introduced Dennis Domino chassis, which was neat enough for the continuation of the Centre-line service. 1751 is the only example of the Northern Counties bodied midibus to be around, so its fitting that it was seen in 2009, taking part in the SELNEC 40 rally. 1760 was painted into an overall red livery and trialed in London before delivery to Manchester in 1986. a forerunner to the popular Dennis Dart.
Manchester Deregulation the 30th anniversary event
The 1980-1985 deliveries of the Leyland Olympians were given a crisp and clean slightly extend standard Northern Counties bodywork. Here preserved 3065, which was in Stagecoach Magic bus livery when seen at SELNEC 40, exits Boyle Street in full GMPTE livery repaint. The bus was presented to the Museum of Transport during the morning of October 15th 2016, it later ventured out into service, as seen here.
This event was held across the weekend of October 15th & 16th 2016, with mostly former GMPTE and SELNEC standards and the recently repaint 3065 a 1985 Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympian, into the brown, orange and white 1980 livery. Buses brought visitors to the museum from bus stop NU just opposite Manchester Victoria Railway Station. A short trip upon a vintage SELNEC Atlantean AN68 with Park Royal bodywork 7001 or Northern Counties bodied Atlantean AN68 7206 in GMS livery and logos. Also included in this service was a true veteran Leyland Titan PD2 with East Lancashire bodywork 5871. Later in the day the above mentioned Olympian 3065 was used in service towards the end of the day. Leyland National EX30 and SELNEC 6809 a PDR2/1 East Lancashire bodied Atlantean with ECW bodied Leyland Leopard coach 81 were used on special photo shoots during the day.
Amongst the exhibits both inside and outside of the museum were standards 8001, 8141, 8151, 8551, 8697 and 8763, with Dennis Dominator 2032 and recently restored Metrobus 3208 and Volvo saloon 520. These vehicles were painted in a verity of Manchester PTE liveries, which certainly stirred the memories. The weather in the afternoon allowed form some scenic photography either in Victoria or at the photo stop site. After riding the standard 7001 and 7206 along with Olympian 3065 the day had closed and a pleasant trip home awaited. Using Olympian 3065 to Victoria, Metroshuttle service 1 to Piccadilly, Trans-Pennine express to Leeds then Riding Redefined to Harrogate aboard the 36.
The first of over 1200 standard styled SELNEC/GMPTE vehicles, 7001 new in 1972 on an Atlantean AN68 chassis with Park Royal bodywork. Here 7001 is seen arriving into Victoria during the Saturday of the two day Deregulation event.
The Leyland National series 1 was placed into production in 1972, lasting until 1985. Here EX30 one the small number of experimental Nationals used by SELNEC, alongside the Metro-Scania/MCW saloons. After the extensive trials, SELNEC placed an order for 70 Nationals to be delivered during 1975, these were new to the GMPTE. EX30 now part of a collection of 80 vehicles at the Boyle Street Manchester Museum of Transport, is seen entering Boyle Street from Queens Road.
Ralph Bennett who was general manager of Bolton Corporation, saw an advantage of working with his suppliers, East Lancashire. Together they created some very pleasing lines to early Atlantean bus bodies, here 6809 which was ordered by Bolton. Had arrived after the formation of SELNEC, this batch were the longest double deckers in the fleet. Here 6809 is seen working its way to a special photo shoot stop during the recent Deregulation rally.