On The Buses is a journey through
some of the history of Warrington's council-owned local bus
Featured on this page
|Trams and Buses in Warrington||Lucy Boxes||Centenary Event|
|Old Bus Station Demolition||Warrington Interchange Official Opening||Warrington Corporation Tramways|
|Golborne Street Bus Station||Warrington Interchange Completion||Other Bus Operators in Warrington|
|Warrington Borough Transport||New Temporary Bus Station||Warington Interchange - First Day|
WARRINGTON INTERCHANGE - ARTIST IMPRESSION
My thanks to Barry at Warrington Borough Council for permission to feature this image
Warrington's new bus interchange was opened on 21 August 2006. From 1979, bus users travelled from a facility on Golborne Street, but it was very unpopular due to its very dreary appearance. With the proposed redevelopment of Golden Square shopping centre, there was an opportunity to upgrade the old bus station into a modern state-of-the-art interchange. Read the story of how the old was transformed into the new later, but first let's take a trip down memory lane with a short history of public transport in Warrington.
The first application for a public road transport system in Warrington was made in 1870 when the council was approached by a private company about the possibility of laying a horse tramway within the town. This was rejected, as the Corporation did not wish outsiders to profit from the local community. So by 1890 the only service of its kind was provided by private horse-drawn buses.
1900 a power station was constructed at Howley, and the Corporation was
encouraged to apply to Parliament for powers to lay down and operate an electric
tramway system along the five main arterial roads within the town boundary.
This image is used for illustration purposes and shows how people travelled before the dawn of electric trams. The photo is of a horse-drawn tram at Długi Targ (Long Market) in Gdansk, Poland. From Polish Wikipedia, PD. Image is in the public domain. Link to the file in Wikipedia here.
This was granted as the Tramways Orders Confirmation (No. 4) Act 1900 (63 & 64 Vic. cap. cci). Construction began in 1901, with responsibility for the operation assumed by the Corporation's Electricity and Tramways Committee under the name of "Warrington Corporation Tramways".
official Board of Trade inspection of the Latchford and Sankey Bridges branches
was made by Lt. Col. P.G. von Donop R.E. on 17 April, 1902. Despite a minor
hiccup involving a broken trolley pole, permission was given for operations on
the two lines to begin. The track gauge for the line was 4 ft
8½ in (1,435 mm). The
first tram left Rylands Street for Latchford at 7.40 a.m. on 21 April.
Leyland Olympian ONLXB (H517 RWX) between services on Winwick Street, 6 March 2009.
of the Sankey Bridges route did not start for another two days until enough
trams were available for the service, thus a through service between the two lines
commenced on 23 April. Eight open-top double-deck trams built by G.F. Milnes of
Birkenhead were purchased for the opening, with a further 13 arriving later in
the year to operate the other three lines. The total length of the combined
tramways was 6.84 miles. The five routes operated were as follows:
|Latchford||21 April, 1902||28 August, 1935|
|Sankey Bridges||23 April, 1902||27 March, 1935|
|Wilderspool||4 October, 1902 (Extended to Stockton Heath from 7 July, 1905)||17 September, 1931|
|Cemetery||22 November, 1902||27 March, 1935|
|Longford||29 November, 1902||31 December, 1931|
Photo © D Garner
| D Garner has sent me this photo of
a relic from
the tramway era. It is the cover to the manhole (or inspection chamber
as the PC brigade would have us call it), which gave access to the
power supply for the tram route, which ran from Bridge Street to Stockton
Heath between 1902 and 1935. It is located on the Stockton Heath side of
the swing bridge (known officially as Northwich Road Bridge).
Have you ever wondered how they maintained power to each side of the bridge, especially when the bridge was open? Well, they used a tunnel under the canal with the electricity cable running through it.
The lower image is a view of the bridge from Stockton Heath with Greenall Whitley offices in the distance. The manhole cover is at the bottom left of this view.
If you want to read more about the tram route, Ron Phillips has written a fabulous book called Stockton Heath By Tram. It is available for loan from Warrington Library in Museum Street. The Library has a superb archive which you can use to conduct your own research, as well as gaining access to computers and the Internet. The Museum is contained in the same building.
The line south along Wilderspool Causeway initially operated to a terminus at Stafford Road, just north of the Manchester Ship Canal. This was the boundary between Lancashire and Cheshire - before the Ship Canal was built, the River Mersey was the boundary. The tramway was later extended to Stockton Heath village, and the name of the company was changed to "Warrington Corporation Tramways & Stockton Heath Light Railways". There was an ambitious plan to extend the line to Northwich, but nothing came of it.
As the line crossed the canal on a swing bridge, special precautions had to be made to ensure that trams did not end up in the canal whilst the bridge was out. Catch points were provided on the southern side of the canal, whilst the current in the vicinity was cut as soon as the bridge swung out of its closed position, leaving a neutral section in the overhead wires until the bridge swung back into position.
|As I wasn't around in the era of the trams in Warrington (I was only born 28 years after they stopped running), I do not have any personal photos of the trams. So the nearest I can get for now is to show you this view, taken in 2002, when one of the buses was decorated with some of the old vehicles for the centenary celebrations of Warrington Borough Transport. The first part of the artwork features No 16 tram which was part of a series used on the Longford route and built by Brush. The middle bus is a Tilling-Stevens TTA2 type, powered by a 40 hp petrol engine. The third vehicle is a Foden PFD6, registration no FED 592, seen here decorated for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The modern vehicle decked out in the artwork is a Dennis Dart SLF, T201 AFM, new in March 1999, and running as vehicle no 1 in the fleet.|
|The Longford route was constructed with the intention that there would be an onward line built by the private company, South Lancashire Tramways (SLT), to Newton-le-Willows and beyond. SLT held powers to build such a route as part of the South Lancashire Tramways Act 1901 (1 Edw. VII cap. cclvii), the Act also authorising SLT to enter into agreements concerning running powers with the Corporation. In the meantime, the line was not expected to be viable by itself, due to the sparsely populated nature of the outer end.|
Volvo DAF SB120 (DE04 YNC) at Golborne St bus station on 6 May 2005.
SLT got into serious financial difficulties in 1904, which led to its restructuring in 1906. As a result of concentrating on building new tramways to connect with lines in other areas, the powers to build the connection to the Longford line lapsed.
|The Longford route thus became rather a liability to the Corporation, and efforts were made to reduce the losses caused by the line. In 1910, Tram No. 18 was converted to a single-deck one-man-operated vehicle. The route still made substantial losses so was later put back into its original open-top condition, along with No. 19 and No. 21, due to restricted headroom caused by two railway bridges along the route.|
The tram shown here is part of the Birkenhead Tramway and Wirral Transport Museum, photographed in 2008, with the layout of a the cab shown right.
Lancashire United Tramways (LUT), the parent company of SLT, started running buses from Golborne to the Longford tram terminus via Newton-le-Willows in 1920. It approached the Corporation in April 1921 about extending the service through to Central Station over the tram route. The Corporation agreed, but stipulated that LUT must pay them an amount equal to the tram fare for every passenger carried over this section of the route. Similar agreements were later made with Crosville and North Western over other tramway routes.
box" is a name applied to boxes, about 3 feet high, 2 feet
wide and about 18 inches deep, often found on pavements throughout
|They were also used and as part of the general electricity supply network and for telephone purposes. One of Warrington Corporation tram routes was from Central Station to Longford along Winwick Road. The Lucy Group of companies started in 1803 and specialise in electrical equipment and is still based in Oxford. The one featured here at Towns End (as this area of Warrington was once known) was made by Hardy and Padmore Limited of Worcester and dates back to the 1930s. In 2010 It was given had a makeover.|
Warrington Borough Council Town Centre Wardens were the guys who cleaned
up the electric feeder box. The following five photos
details, check out the following links:
Warrington's trams entered service with open-tops, the majority were rebuilt
with canopies and new staircases. Six new trams from Brush Electrical
Engineering Company were purchased in 1919, allowing frequencies and operating
hours to be increased to meet demand. The Corporation also started operating its
own bus services, complementing the existing tram network.
A Dennis Dart 9M leaves Golborne Street on Route 25 to Gorse Covert on 23 May 2003, closely followed by the Halton Transport Service 62 to Widnes via Moore and Runcorn.
Routes to Bewsey and Orford using motor buses started in 1913, with a further route to Padgate in 1928 operating over part of an unbuilt tramway extension along Padgate Lane to Padgate Bridge. A purpose-built bus garage was constructed on Lower Bank Street, close to the existing tram depot, in 1930.
|Track on both the Cemetery and Sankey Bridges routes was relaid in 1922 and 1923, with a substantial amount of doubling taking place on the formerly single-track line to the Cemetery. Meanwhile, powers had been obtained to lay a new line in the town centre running via Scotland Road, Buttermarket Street, Market Gate and Bridge Street to meet the terminating spur for the Stockton Heath route. This was part of a scheme to enable a through-service between the Cemetery and Stockton Heath lines, and was tried out for a short period after construction was completed in 1922. It became apparent very soon that the poor reliability of the Stockton Heath line was causing knock-on effects on the Cemetery line. The two routes thus reverted back to separate operations again, although both terminating near Market Gate at the heart of the town centre. The line along Scotland Road was not used for normal service after this, serving merely as a connecting line from the depot to the terminus of the Longford route at Central Station.|
tram in Fleetwood,
1929, a proposal was put together to replace trams on the Stockton Heath line
with bus services, as the track had been in use for 25 years and was due for
renewal. The route was duly closed on 17 September, 1931, and was replaced by a
Corporation bus service from Central Station. Nine Leyland TD1s with Brush
bodywork were purchased, and it was not long before the service was extended to
the suburbs of Walton and Grappenhall, illustrating the flexibility of the motor
bus over the fixed infrastructure required for trams.
The Longford route operated for the last time at the end of the year, with LUT paying the Corporation £25 per annum as a condition of being allowed to operate the replacement bus service. Although there were still several years of life in the tracks before renewal was required, the Sankey Bridges and Cemetery routes were replaced by a through bus service on 28 March, 1935, extended at the Cemetery end as far as the junction with the new Kingsway road, near Bruche Bridge.
With the end of the tramway now in sight, the company name was changed to "Warrington Corporation Transport Department" in April 1935.
Metrolink system in
The Latchford route continued in use until 28 August, 1935, the last day of tram operation, with a replacement bus service operating from the following day. The last journey of the day was operated by Tram No. 1, which left Rylands Street carrying 136 passengers as opposed to its nominal capacity of 55. This tram is estimated to have carried a total of 9,652,000 passengers and operated 777,600 miles during its 33 years of service. The total mileage operated by all trams was about 15,000,000, carrying a total of 225,000,000 passengers with only one fatality. Unlike many other tramway systems, a profit had been made in every financial year bar one; all loan charges had been paid off, and additionally over £35,000 of relief in rates was handed over.
expanded rapidly after the Second World War as new housing estates grew in
areas such as Orford and Great Sankey. The conversion of bus routes with
conductors into one-man-operated services began in 1965, as changes in
society, such as home entertainment and the increasing availability of cars,
forced cost savings on all bus operators in the country.
Warrington was designated as a new town in 1968, which led to new housing estates planned in the Birchwood and Westbrook areas of town. As such, Warrington Borough Council Transport Department (as the transport department was then called) began operating new services to these new developments as they started to grow in the 1970s and beyond. The department also began operating new services jointly with Crosville upon the split of the old Stockport-based North Western Road Car Company in 1972.
the deregulation of bus services in the UK, brought about by the
Transport Act of 1985, Warrington
Borough Transport Ltd took over operations as a limited company in 1986, albeit
owned 100% by the council. The company's mission was that if money could be made
by operating services deemed uneconomic by other operators, then WBT should
It also meant that the competition was now open for any bus operator to run services wherever they wished. In Warrington, Crosville, which had a depot near Brian Bevan Island since the 1920s, was passed over to North Western. North Western then began to run rival services in Warrington from 1991, with the intention of putting Warrington Borough Transport (WBT) out of business.
I heard that a figure of £1million was made available to complete the task. For the next 4 or 5 years North Western brought in white buses, and later blue, yellow and red, under the name of Warrington Goldline.
WBT had sections called Mini Lines and Midi Lines, so some customers naturally presumed Goldline was part of WBT. In practice, Goldline services duplicated many of the routes and timetables with buses, competing for passengers, showing similar service numbers - Service 16 was 116 on Goldline. Another company, Liverpool-based MTL, also ran routes in the town, but they withdrew their services in 1995.
In return, WBT ran rival out-of-town services in traditional North
Western areas, including Wigan,
St Helens, Widnes, Runcorn, Chester and Liverpool. They even starting a local
minibus service in Northwich.
WBT kept routes to Prescot and St Helens, whilst giving up operations to the Birchwood area of town in favour of North Western, who later rebranded as Arriva.
After about 18 months it became clear over time that North Western would not succeed in their takeover of Warrington and a compromise was eventually reached. WBT would relinquish some out of town routes and North Western would give up some of its inner-Warrington routes.
Daimler Fleetline in
Arriva took over North Western in 2002, but eventually closed down its Warrington depot off Hawley's Lane for financial reasons, with the effect that WBT took back operation of services to Birchwood, whilst Arriva took control of the St Helens route once again. I personally refused to travel Goldline or any North Western route within the borough during the bus wars as I believed the local area is best served from a local company. Now WBT serves the whole town once again.
The main depot and offices for WBT are located on Wilderspool Causeway (A49) at the junction with Chester Road (A5060), on the southern periphery of the town centre close to the crossing of the Mersey at Bridge Foot. The two main sheds to the rear of the site were originally built in 1943 for Fairey Aviation, and used to assemble wings for their Fulmer Bomber, before being bought by Warrington Corporation in 1947 as a place to park buses. The site eventually became the main operational centre for the buses. In 1964 an extension was built onto the garages, consisting of a reception area and vehicle inspection bays at ground level, with offices above.
The Warrington Borough Transport (WBT) bus depot (left) on Wilderspool Causeway by St James Church. In the old days Crosville operated buses from their depot just across the road from WBT's on Chester Road. The image (right) is what stands there now: Bevan Court - an apartment block. It is called Bevan Court after the Warrington Rugby League legend, Brian Bevan, whose statue stood on the roundabout nearby The statue was moved to the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Mike Gregory Way, the new home of Warrington Wolves Super League club rugby from 2004. Arriva had a depot in Warrington until they moved out a few years back. Their depot was off Hawleys Lane by Winwick Road.
14 March 2006.
The original tram system was operated from an eight-track depot at the junction of Mersey Street and Lower Bank Street. A purpose-built bus garage was constructed on Lower Bank Street in 1930, although buses were also housed in the old tram sheds following the withdrawal of trams.
| Despite the move to the new Wilderspool
garage, the old staff canteen on Lower Bank Street remained in use until the
opening of the new bus station in 1979. The building was demolished in 1981, and
is today the site of a JJB Sports superstore and fitness club.
The current depot's location next to the old Wilderspool Stadium, and close to the town centre, led to interest from developers in redeveloping the site during 2006.
As part of this, a new depot would have been constructed at the nearby Centre Park business park on the other side of the Mersey, but still close to the town centre. Whilst WBT were reported to be seriously considering the proposed relocation, the scheme never moved beyond the drawing board, having failed to gain favour with council planning officers.
Large investments have been made in more recent times to replace the fleet with new low-floor single-deck buses that are wheelchair accessible and more friendly to people with pushchairs. Marketing efforts have seen the introduction of the Metro Map, to highlight the relatively straight-forward nature of the network operated (in an Underground-style format). At Christmas the company operates a park and ride service. It also operates contract services. Work services generally operate in conjunction with large employers or business parks, operate at peak times for pass-holding employees, and are not available to the general public. Services operated include routes to Birchwood Science Park and the O2 site at Preston Brook.
|The Centrelink town centre shuttle service 101 operates in conjunction with Northwest Development Agency and Centre Park. This is not classified as a works service due to it being available to all members of the public as well as operating outside peak hours.|
Here we see two Optare Metroriders, S119 GUB and T233 ELG.
one on the left is photographed in the Centrelink Shuttle livery on 21
July 2005. The second is shown in the previous Warrington Borough
|The original tramway system opened in 1902 with 21 double-deck trams. Six further trams entered service in 1920 to help increase frequencies. The first Corporation bus service started in 1913, but the reliability of early buses was not great, and the trams were still very much the "Senior Service". Tilling Stevens, Leyland SG7 and Leviathans were amongst the first motor vehicles operated. The demise of the tramway saw the first buses subject to the Road Traffic Act 1930 brought into the fleet.|
Vehicle No 148 (BED 729C) is a Leyland 'Titan PD2/40 Special', the company's preserved heritage bus. It was purchased in 1965, and built to a narrow width to cope with Sankey Street in the days before pedestrianization.
Large numbers of front-engined double-deck buses were purchased prior to the Second World War, mainly consisting of Crossley Mancunians and Leyland Titans, with a variety of bodywork, including bodies from the chassis makers themselves, but also from MCCW, English Electric, Brush and Charles Roberts, amongst others.
Specials - Dennis Dart SLFs.
Three buses fitted out in anniversary liveries at the old Golborne Street bus station.
for the 2002 Warrington
12 July 2002.
JLG seen here
Jubilee on 18 July 2002.
JLG promotes 150
years of the Warrington
which began on 9 April 1853
(Photo 15 May 2003).
here is the
centenary bus T201 AFM
in 'network warrington'
livery at Warrington
Interchange on 27 June 2006.
Post-war, more Titans with bodywork by Leyland, Alexander and Bruce Coachworks were ordered, along with Bristol K6Gs. The latter was an unusual vehicle to be operated by a municipal fleet, due to the newly-nationalised Bristol only supplying vehicles to the nationalised Tilling Group, but the Corporation had a prior order placed.
| Another unusual vehicle type in use post-war was the Foden
PVD6, as there were only 61 examples built. Warrington was the largest customer
with a total of 15. Delays in bodywork production also led to several new
chassis receiving the bodywork from withdrawn pre-war vehicles, in contrast to
other operators who were putting new bodywork on old chassis.
Rear-engined vehicles suitable for one person operation started entering the fleet in 1963, with Daimler Fleetlines becoming the standard double-decker bus. Most new vehicles in this era were bodied by East Lancs; from 1954 to 1987, almost all new service buses featured bodywork from East Lancs, the only exceptions being a batch of Bristol REs delivered in 1970.
These featured bodywork by Pennine due to production delays caused by a fire at the East Lancs factory. Single-deck vehicles consisted of Leyland Panther Cubs and Bristol REs, with Bristol now allowed to sell to the open market again. These appeared on less patronised routes, especially those in rural Cheshire.
last Bristol RE was withdrawn in 1999 after 23 years of service in
Warrington. New vehicles due to be delivered in the mid-1970s were subject
to production delays, so many buses from other operators were used on loan
until the first of a large batch of Leyland Atlanteans arrived in 1977.
Dennis Dominators and Leyland Olympians entered the fleet from 1983
onwards. Second-hand vehicles were not common until the 1980s when
expansion required an influx of additional vehicles.
Prior to that, six ex-London Transport DMS vehicles with MCW bodywork formed the largest batch of buses that started their lives elsewhere. Post deregulation in 1987, further second-hand vehicles were acquired from a variety of different sources: Fleetlines from Greater Manchester Transport; Atlanteans from Eastbourne, Preston and Blackburn; Dominators from Leicester; and Olympians from Derby and Arriva.
M243 YCM parked
on Winwick Street
on 6 March 2009.
|In the spring and summer of 2009, twelve
new buses were purchased. They have Volvo B7RLE (Euro 5) YV3R6M32 chassis and
Volvo D7E290 six-speed automatic engines with Wright Eclipse Urban 2 B45F bodies
and seating. They have been given the fleet numbers 83 to 94 with video screens
to assist in reversing and the usual low floor with ramp access for wheelchair
One of the new Volvo buses, seen outside The Lord Rodney pub at Towns End on 7 August 2009.
|To coincide with the 2006 opening of the new bus interchange in Warrington town
centre, the front-line fleet has been rebranded in a new red livery with cream
and orange circular detailing, designed by Samantha Beeley. The fleet name
"network warrington" is used, with "warrington borough
transport" appearing underneath in small letters. The original design
contained the strapline "connecting warrington" but this was soon
replaced by "making warrington move". The borough coat of arms was
deliberately left off the sample vehicle, but was added after 92% of respondents
to feedback questionnaires felt it should be included.
company gained Investors in People accreditation in 2004, and attained the
Charter Mark award for customer service in 2005.
were awarded overall winner at The Mayor's Sustainable Business Awards in 2007,
thanks to increasing bus usage by 13.2% in twelve months, with an extra million
journeys being made.
WBT were awarded overall winner at The Mayor's Sustainable Business Awards in 2007, thanks to increasing bus usage by 13.2% in twelve months, with an extra million journeys being made.
|This large rise in patronage and 98% customer satisfaction ratings also helped the company be shortlisted for Shire Operator of the Year at the 2007 UK Bus Awards, whilst the drivers were shortlisted for the Industry People of the Year. The company were runners-up in the Shire Operator of the Year category, behind the highly-regarded Stagecoach Cambridge. The overall winner was Lothian Buses. The company has also won several awards at the Warrington Business Awards, winning the Social Responsibility Award in 2001 and 2007, and the Business Survivor Award in 2003.|
the new Chapelford urban village now open on land once occupied by the
former Burtonwood Air Base, WBT introduced the Chapelford
|Very few physical remains of the tramway infrastructure are left today, with the last remnants of the old depot on Lower Bank Street being demolished in 1981, the location today being the site of a JJB Sports superstore and fitness club. However, one of the original Milnes trams (Tram No. 2) managed to survive as a bowling green shelter in Cuddington until 1977, when it was saved for preservation by Alan Pritchard. After almost thirty years of storage, restoration by the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society began in 2004, located at the Wirral Transport Museum.|
In 2012, Warrington Borough Transport decorated two of their buses to celebrate both 110 years of the bus company and the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. They were both used to transport the VIPs to the official opening of the Orford Park community hub on Jubilee Way.
DK07 EZR is seen in Winwick Street on 16 April 2012 in preparation for its journey to Gorse Covert on route 25C, with DK55 OPM parked up at Jubilee Way after the VIPs had alighted for the Queen's visit. I don't know if the buses will remain in this livery or whether they will be repainted in their normal colours. Liveries are important to a company because the travelling public get used to see a regular colour, so I imagine they will not be kept in this style, which would be a shame.
On 3 June 2002,
Warrington Borough Transport opened up the
views of the old bus station on Golborne Street. The first one, taken
on 12 August
plaque for the
opening of the bus
station on 16 May
1979 by the Mayor
A Monk & Co Ltd
won the contract
to build the facility.
In the 'good old days' there was a bus station at Arpley (right alongside the ABC cinema - now Halo nightclub), but that has long gone. A car park occupies the site these days. Until Golden Square shopping centre came along, all the buses picked up at stops along Bridge Street, Horsemarket Street and Buttermarket Street (mine was outside the original location of the Tesco supermarket on Buttermarket Street). In those days of the 1970s I had a choice of 6 buses to my house (2, 2a, 4, 4a, 9 and 16 - all different now). What was yours? Longford Bus 79, perhaps? Maybe No 1 to Westy or the Grappenhall No 6? Tell me your memories in the Feedback section. Warrington's bus station was opened on 16 May 1979 by the Mayor of Warrington Councillor Arthur Higham, and was linked to Golden Square shopping centre.
Photo © Peter Spilsbury.
site of Arpley Bus
Station, now a car park
(3 Mar 2005).
drivers' canteen (left) and
the pedestrian waiting area
(17 Mar 2005).
From my memories in that year, the year that I left school, it was promoted as futuristic with its underground section on the east side. But I don't think anybody these days would call it futuristic - not with all the fumes that were trapped down there! It was not a nice place to board a bus, and definitely needed an upgrade. Thankfully, that was going to happen, with some of the estimated £7 million funding coming from the government. The new bus interchange adjoins Winwick Street and Scotland Road. Have a look at some shots of the old bus station.
|Walk upstairs, use the escalator or travel in the lift to reach Golden Square (17 Mar 2005).||Night
(16 Mar 2005).
|17 March 2005|
view over the bus station to southwest Warrington would have looked
different once the car park was demolished.
Maybe not quite like the mock up image I have done in the images above, though. It is a series of images of the car park
footbridge on the day it was taken down. It is early morning and the bridge was being taken down at the night time.
I wanted to see what it looked like when taken down so I cut out the bridge (picture 2). My brother asked if I could do
something with the car park. As I couldn't knock it down, picture 3 is what I think should replace the car park!
Warrington in the good old days! The 4th is a shot of all three. Shame really, because it probably looked something like
this in centuries past - but a little bit flatter! The first image is the original view.
Wednesday, 20 July 2005, was the last day of operation for the old bus station...
The final day of the old bus station. The very last journey was performed by the 40 year old Leyland PD2 at the top of this page.
...the day after looks a bit quieter.
The old bus station has now closed. These images were taken the day after when it looked like a ghost town.
Warrington Interchange, as the new bus station is called, is in the style of an airport departure lounge in a bright and cheerful atmosphere. A state-of-the-art departure board incorporating the existing Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) system, currently fitted to Warrington Borough Transport buses, will give passengers up to date satellite information on bus locations.
Unlike the old bus station, buses drive into departure bays and reverse out, with a safety feature preventing doors from opening until the bus arrives at the bay. I have seen this in action in other towns and it works very well, which is reassuring for parents with toddlers. This new layout should help to cut down on the type of congestion seen in the first image, below. The plan was to build a temporary bus station on land adjacent to Golborne Street and Winwick Road. When this opened, the old bus station would be demolished, while work continued in the background on the main concourse of the new, permanent, bus interchange. Work started on Monday 27 February 2004 with the clearance of the land by Winwick Street.
The original plan was for retail units to be incorporated into the Interchange. This didn't happen straight away, but BHS has now opened a café and a newsagent took up residence in 2009. A drop-off point for taxis and private vehicles is located at the entrance near Scotland Road. This is close to Bay No. 1, used by National Express and other coaches, and means travellers don't have to carry heavy suitcases too far. I am also informed that the Armitage and Rigby chimney top from the old Cockhedge Mill will be re-housed somewhere in the town centre. It originally stood at the top of Golborne Street by Winwick Street. I think the large open space outside then main entrance to the Interchange would be the perfect spot for it to remind people of our industrial past.
See how the Interchange was built in
the following views of the bus station construction site (in chronological
A temporary bus station would be built, with the permanent Interchange opening on the same site later.
|9 May 2003||23 Feb 2004||27 Sep 2004||26 Jan 2005|
|5 Feb 2005||7 Mar 2005||14 Mar 2005||16 Mar 2005|
|26 Apr 2005||12 May 2005||2 Jun 2005||20 Jun 2005|
|7 Jul 2005||14 Jul 2005||14 Jul 2005||14 Jul 2005|
|Old Bus Station Demolition August - September 2005.|
|30 Aug 2005||30 Aug 2005||31 Aug 2005||1 Sep 2005|
|12 Sep 2005||12 Sep 2005||13 Sep 2005||13 Sep 2005|
|13 Sep 2005||13 Sep 2005||13 Sep 2005||14 Sep 2005|
|14 Sep 2005||14 Sep 2005||15 Sep 2005||15 Sep 2005|
|15 Sep 2005||15 Sep 2005||19 Sep 2005||29 Sep 2005|
mural designed by pupils at Penketh High School was safely removed.
The school had rung up to
ask of its condition. I am pleased to say it has been reinstalled in the new bus interchange near
the Hop Pole pub entrance. The industrial art works shown on the Golden Square page were also
covered up to protect them while the new bus interchange was constructed. Sadly, not all of
them would be visible when the bus interchange opened.
says no buses for 1 hour.
14 Sep 2005
|And here they are... all at once!|
|31 Aug 2005||13 Sep 2005||19 Sep 2005||23 Sep 2005|
|29 Sep 2005||29 Sep 2005||29 Sep 2005|
|6 Oct 2005||18 Nov 2005||18 Nov 2005|
from Scotland Road footbridge
|22 Dec 2005||25
January to 6 July 2006
|27 Jan 2006||2 Mar 2006||2 Mar 2006||13 Mar 2006|
|13 Mar 2006||13 Mar 2006||13 Mar 2006||13 Mar 2006|
|19 Apr 2006||19 Apr 2006||15 June 2006||15 June 2006|
|6 July 2006||6 July 2006||6 July 2006||6 July 2006|
Inspector's office, information point
and toilets are all at ground level.
driver's canteen facilities are upstairs in the
Interchange. This is the view from their balcony.
was invited inside
is bright and
are in place,
with escalators too.
in the old place.
pull up to
|Scotland Road view.||Two
views from Midland Way. The second
is taken from near the car park entrance.
two views are from the onsite
visit to Golden Square on Wednesday.
DJKenny provides the final set of images from the
temporary bus station.
|Photos Copyright © DJKenny|
|10.00 a.m. from Midland Way. A widescreen view of the whole Interchange.|
from Hop Pole
pub. The entrance is
bright, spacious and
The Tourist Information
Centre will move onto
the concourse in
the near future.
High School art
work takes pride of place
in the main entrance hall,
having been removed from
the old bus station.
It was designed
in 2002 and depicts the
history of Warrington.
give details of the next
buses from each bay.
on large information
view from the balcony
at the Golden Square
entrance to the
|And two views at ground level from the same area.||Each
bay has its own
are brightly lit.
large information screen
is positioned at the
Golden Square entrance.
are located in
the centre of the
waiting area, including
a disabled facility
with a hoist.
lifts are available,
giving a smooth, quiet
ride, with escalators
through the gap
crews have their own rest area upstairs,
featuring kitchen, canteen and toilet facilities.
The photo on the right was sent in by "Bungle"
(WBT driver) and shows it from the inside.
Thanks for that.
now. The doors are designed NOT to open until a
bus arrives to trigger the sensor. In reality, if somebody
is already outside and walking around, the sensors
will be activated. It is safer to wait inside (and drier
when it rains!) Bay numbers are large and bright.
time and the place is quiet. It is now after 9.00 p.m.
The pace is slower and fewer passengers are out and about.
And no, I haven't been here all day - I came back later to do these shots!
one passenger to go
at the moment (can you see
him right at the back?).
screens give the now
and next three departures.
a larger display over
the exit doors.
the art work under
the display. There are seven
of these, but sadly some o
them are now hidden by
the lifts. To see what they
look like, go to the
Golden Square page.
|And so to bed.|
The general feeling among travellers is that the Interchange is much better than the old bus station. A number of people said they would feel safer in this area. The main concourse is wide and bright, the toilets are clean and well lit and the lifts are quiet and smooth. Two new escalators are also available to Golden Square shopping centre. One or two people said they didn't like the interchange but wouldn't give a reason. I suppose one thing that was inevitable was finding your way to your new bay, but at least you don't have to queue up in the rain on Scotland Road anymore. One or two did mention the floor, feeling that it was a bit slippy. Whether that is because it is new, well, the jury is still out on that one, but I do know it has been given anti-slip treatment. In the end, safety is important, so if that's what needed, then so be it. Some questioned the cost and delays. Draw your own conclusions. Whatever your view, I'll leave you with this comment from one person connected with the Interchange, "At least we finished before Wembley did!" (The official "handing over of the keys" ceremony for Wembley was 9 March 2007 - 3 YEARS LATE!)
For cyclists, there are facilities to lock up your bikes outside the bus interchange and Warrington Central Station and at other points around the town centre.
Shortly after the bus interchange opened, I was approached by Warrington Borough Council Transport department, who wished to show a series of photos depicting the town's three bus stations. Thirty-six images were selected and displayed in the Interchange by the new information centre. The image, left, is a combined photo of that display, which also promoted the mywarrington website. The display brought back memories from townsfolk who have used the town's bus stations, Arpley, Golborne Street and now the Interchange. Some of those images are now displayed here in On The Buses. Incidentally, the name On The Buses is taken from a 1970s ITV sitcom in which the late Reg Varney starred as mischievous bus driver Stan Butler. He, along with his conductor Jack, gave Inspector Blake a hard time. I 'ate you, Butler! The show is repeated regularly on ITV3.
The official opening of Warrington Interchange took place on Thursday 12 July 2007. Members of Warrington Borough Council and Warrington Borough Transport (Network Warrington) attended the event, including the Mayor and Consort, Cllr Celia Jordan MBE B.Ed. The event was also used to introduce the first of the Warrington Guardian 'worthies' by naming a bus after each of them.
|The official unveiling of a commemorative plaque.|
would like to express my special thanks to Chloe's mum for permission
to feature her
photograph on the website. Chloe is the granddaughter of the longest serving bus driver.
newly-named low-floor buses form part of Network Warrington's
featuring security cameras with video recording and space for wheelchairs and buggies.
by Padgate High Steel Band.
|Some of the old buses used by Warrington Corporation have been saved for preservation. And you don't have to travel far to see some of them. The Northwest Museum of Road Transport is on Hall Street in St Helens, two minutes walk from the bus station. I visited the museum on 20 April 2013 and the volunteers gave me permission to photograph the vehicles and to present them here on mywarrington. I will also showcase some of their other vehicles - not all of them - you'll have to visit the museum to see the rest! Later on in this feature I will give you some information on the history of the museum. But first, Warrington's story...|
I will begin with two examples from the 1960s.
|The buses here are Leyland
PD2/40 Specials. They were built with a 7 feet 6 inches wide body to
cope with the narrow section of Sankey Street near Market Gate, and they
were 28 feet 5 inches long. Their bodies have East Lancs bodies with front
entrances and had seating for 64 passengers, 34 upstairs and 30
Warrington No 50 (BED 731C) was taken out of service in 1981 and was purchased for preservation in the same year. After many years of storage at the museum in St Helens it was restored to its present condition by a group of enthusiasts in 1997. It passed its first MOT for 17 years with flying colours and went to the Llandudno show in May 1998 and the trip was completed trouble-free. It is a museum-owned vehicle.
|The second bus, Warrington No. 51 (BED 732C), entered service at Warrington Corporation in May 1965 and was again designed for the narrow Sankey Street section that passed the Co-op, Marks & Spencer and Woolworths, and the plan was for two buses to pass side by side. However, the street was made into a one-way street and later pedestrianized, and has remained that way ever since. BED 732C was sold to Weardale Motor Services Ltd of Stanhope, County Durham, in 1981 and its narrow width was suitable for operating the various stage and school services in the narrow country roads throughout the Dale. It was thought to be the last 7 feet 6 inch-wide double-deck bus in regular passenger service when it was withdrawn in 1995 and was immediately purchased by the present owner for preservation.|
It was restored in Weardale livery as it operated as long in County Durham as it did in Warrington. It received many modifications during its lifetime in Weardale, including moquette seating. The vehicle is privately-owned.
The next vehicle was built in 1984 as a demonstration vehicle for Dennis Motors Ltd. It is a Duple Caribbean-bodied Dennis Dorchester with 53 seats and a toilet.
Warrington Borough Transport bought it in 1985 and painted it in the red and white colour scheme it now carries. It was later painted in blue and yellow CoachLines livery, and re-registered CIW 708. It was sold in 1992 and then had a succession of owners until it was sold to a Barnsley dealer in 2009 with some body damage at the rear.
It was rescued from scrapping at the 11th hour, just as the engine was about to be cut out, by an enthusiast who by chance was visiting the yard. He realised it was a particularly rare coach, one of only five of this combination. He stored it until 2010 when it was bought by the present owner and sent away for bodywork restoration.
This was done by Blackpool Coach Services, next door to the site of the Duple works where it was first built. The work included replacing the rear light panels, boot framing and floor, replacing the side locker doors and a full repaint.
The address (right) shows that it was owned by Warrington Borough Council, who still own the bus company to this day and operates as Warrington Borough Transport/Network Warrington.
And now a look at a Bristol RE bus.
|LED 73P, with an East Lancs body, entered service in December 1975, and was the last of 25 such Bristols bought by Warrington Corporation Transport. It was one of a batch of four (Nos. 70-73) with Gardner engines - all the others had Leyland engines. The Leyland versions were sold in the early 1980s, but the four with Gardner engines were kept in service. They were used on local services in Warrington and on rural routes to Altrincham and Northwich.|
Originally these buses had two doors and 41 seats, with the centre doors being removed in 1984 and the seating capacity increased to 44. In 1999 Nos. 70-73 were believed to be the last Bristol RE's still running in service on the UK mainland with their original operator. To mark this occasion Warrington Borough Transport held a running day on 23 May 1999 using these buses. They were removed from service a few months later and sold for preservation.
The bus route shown on the front was one of two running to Leigh - it went via Newton-le-Willows and Pennington Flash Country Park. This route is no longer operational, but there are still two services to Leigh: the 19 via Winwick, Croft, Culcheth and Glazebury and the 28/28A via Manchester Road, Padgate, Birchwood, Risley, Culcheth and Glazebury.
DED 797 is a Leyland Titan PD1 which was purchased new by Warrington Corporation Transport in November 1946. Its chassis number is 461006 and it has an Alexander body.
It is described as a highbridge double-deck bus, i.e. one with centre gangways on each deck, irrespective of overall height, with 30 seats in the upper deck and 26 downstairs and the entrance at the rear.
|Leyland Logo||Driver's cab||Lower deck seating|
It was one of 11 buses purchased at the time - three of them featured half-drop opening windows, whilst the remainder, including this one, had sliding windows and in service it ran as fleet numbers 16 and 18.
It was withdrawn from service in 1962 and was purchased by John P Robinson and four other enthusiasts in August 1987 with a plan to restore it to former glory with red and white livery. It is seen here at the Northwest Museum of Road Transport in St Helens on 20 April 2013 awaiting restoration.
The idea for a transport museum in St Helens came about in 1971 when a group of enthusiasts calling themselves the "St Helens Trolleybus and Transport Society" (STATS) successfully raised the funds to buy Bradford 799, an ex St Helens trolleybus (BDJ 87).
|The trolleybus was restored over a three year
period, but in as many different places, since the group did not have a
permanent home for its vehicles. The lack of a permanent home hampered
progress and much of the area's transport history was slipping into
That fact that STATS could not go it alone was obvious, so it brought together like-minded groups in the region, and founded the North West Transport Museum Society (NWTMS), which was incorporated as the North West Museum of Transport Limited (NWMOT) in 1981.
|The name reflected the wider interests of the
groups involved, and the much stronger NWTMS was able to gain use of an
old hangar at RAF Burtonwood, and this enabled a fine collection to be
built up. However, based in an old hangar, this extensive collection could
only be displayed to the public once or twice each year.
Having its origins in the St Helens area, the NWMOT approached St Helens Council with the idea of opening a transport museum, appropriately, in the former St Helens Corporation Transport bus depot in Hall Street. The Council saw the opportunities for the town that the transport museum could bring, and agreed to our proposals.
|The building at Hall Street dates to 1881 and
was used to house the original horse-drawn trams.
With the progression to electric trams the building was modified and extended in 1899 and was used by the St Helens Transport Corporation until its demise in 1974. The building became a museum in 1985, established by the late Ray Henton and Mervin Ashton, and was originally called the St Helens Transport Museum. It opened to the public in 1986 when vehicles owned by private individuals and other local transport groups were moved in.
The Museum opened to the public on a regular basis for the first time in 1991 after benefiting from Urban Challenge funding which enabled the creation of visitor facilities.
In 1990 the roof was declared unsafe and the museum was closed to the public. In 1994 the roof collapsed. After various funding applications, the museum finally reopened in September 2006, and is now open every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays between 12 noon and 4 pm and run by volunteers.
|The images seen here in this combined photograph (and the three individual ones above) are painted on the three garage doors on the front of the museum, and each one features a bus that has served the Warrington area. They are services 14 (Penketh Circular), 329 (St Helens to Warrington) and 10 (Manchester to Warrington).|
Today, only the 329 serves the town with its original services number, but operated by Arriva. The Manchester bus is now the 100 service operated by the First Group. The Penketh Circular still runs, but the area is served by four circular buses, 30, 31, 32 and 32A, all run by Network Warrington (Warrington Borough Transport).
|Link to the Northwest Museum of Road Transport website to read more and even get involved.|
|Earlier I said I would showcase some of the other vehicles at the museum.|
The bus here is a Leyland PD2/1 (KTD 768).
|The chassis was built in 1948
and was delivered to Leigh Corporation, but due to the shortage of
materials after the Second World War, it didn't receive a body until
The body was built by the Lydney company and it entered service in 1950 seating a total of 53 passengers as fleet no. 16. Leigh Corporation buses were all of low bridge design and this vehicle is no exception, hence the sunken gangway on the upper deck.
have been restored
from the front
of the top deck
It remained in service in Leigh until the 1968 Transport Act when Leigh Corporation Transport was absorbed into South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire (SELNEC) Passenger Transport Executive on 1 November 1969.
It was repainted orange and white and renumbered 6916.
It was withdrawn from service in 1971 and purchased for preservation. It is now in its original Leigh Corporation colours and is owned by the museum.
deck seating and the sunken
gangway on the right instead of in the centre
Next we see Gordon, the fastest milkman in the north-west!
|This is an electric milk float (DDM 820C) and a regular feature on our streets until the onslaught of that newfangled idea they called the supermarket. This example was built by Wales and Edwards of Shrewsbury in 1965. Many of this particular design were used by the United Dairies (later Unigate) and in the early years by Express Dairies.|
I think they might have been used by the Co-op on Knutsford Road in Warrington. See more examples of Wales and Edwards milk floats here. And who can forget Norman Wisdom in the classic 1965 film The Early Bird where he and his boss, Mr Grimsdale (Edward Chapman), take on the might of Consolidated Dairies.
|RML 2452 (JJD 452D) is a Routemaster, designed by London Transport and built by the Associated Equipment Company (AEC). Some 2,760 Routemasters operated for London Transport, together with 65 more for British European Airways and 50 for Northern General. The majority of the Routemasters were withdrawn by 2005, though 15 still operate in London on routes 9 and 15. The vehicle here was one of 100 that worked in areas such as Windsor, Northfleet, Godstone and Chelsham. It was withdrawn by London County in 1980 and repurchased by London Transport, painted red and sent first to New Cross garage and then to Putney garage.|
After being fitted with an Iveco engine (due to AEC spares becoming unavailable), RML 2452 was renovated by South Yorkshire Transport at Rotherham and repainted in Kentish Bus maroon and primrose livery for route 19. It initially worked from Nine Elms and later from a yard in Battersea. After Kentish Bus was taken over by Arriva South London, the bus became red once again. By now working out of a second yard in Battersea, RML 2452 operated route 19 for a final tour of 12 years, becoming Arriva's 'show' bus. purchased by its present owners for preservation in 2005, the bus has had a number of its original 1966 external fittings refitted and its interior restored to largely-original condition, though it retains its later Iveco engine.
|Also on display at the Northwest Museum of Road Transport are collectors model vehicles. The three main ones featured here are, from left to right, a Blackpool tram, a Warrington Borough Transport Daimler Fleetline (LJA 480P) and a St Helens Corporation Leyland PD2/20 (LDJ 982).|
And when you do visit the Northwest Museum of Road Transport you will see a replica of the railway engine Rocket - made out of matchsticks.
My thanks to the museum for a great day out, and also for permission to photograph the vehicles and to reproduce them here on mywarrington.
operate the service
to Liverpool via Penketh
and Sankey (2 July 2002).
Arriva bus, this time
the 110 to Runcorn via
Penketh and Sankey
(2 July 2002).
Service 100 to Manchester
(2 July 2002).
coach firm Bennett's
operate some of the school
runs as well as regular
services (18 July 2002).
based company, operate
school runs in Warrington.
They took over the old
Warrington coach company
Barry Cooper. The bus is
seen here on Battersby
Lane passing the location
of the Rylands Wire offices
which had recently been
demolished (photo taken
17 March 2004).
Transport Ltd has no
connection with Warrington
Borough Transport. They
operate one of the school
runs, and this bus is parked
in Golborne Street on
2 February 2005.
library operates this
mobile bus library on
different days of the week
across the town. It is seen
here travelling under the
Cantilever bridge in
Stockton Heath on
23 July 2004.
the year of Liverpool's
hosting of the European
Capital of Culture 2008,
this bus toured the region to
promote the event. It is seen
here on Bridge Street on
18 January 2008.
view of Golborne
Street on 21 May 2004
shows one of the new bus
stops featuring electronic
screens displaying real-time
born since 1996
might be puzzled by the
name The Old Brewery on
this bus stop on Winwick
Road by Tesco. It refers to
the Tetley Walker Brewery
which closed in that year.
The bus stop now has
Tesco printed on it.
Photo taken 17 June 2003.
is a photo of one of
the out-of-town bus stops.
It is on Warrington Road
in Culcheth and was
taken on 22 August 2008.
of Golden Square shopping
centre's extension, this
bus stop sign remained
in place long after
Golborne Street closed
to traffic. The photo was
taken on 4 April 2005.
is a view of Golborne
Street from the footbridge
to Cockhedge Shopping
Park on Scotland Road,
taken on 23 February 2004.
would eventually occupy
the same spot.
bus company has support vehicles of one kind
or another. Here we see a van to transport items
around the network. On this day it was used during
the final days of construction of Warrington
Interchange on 17 August 2006. The Foden recovery
vehicle is photographed outside the Wilderspool
Causeway depot on 7 August 2008. A new recovery
vehicle was delivered in 2009.
as seen on the night
of 16 February 2007.
This is a photo of the upstairs of a Dennis Dominator taken on 23 June 2003. It reminds me of something I witnessed on a journey some years. A guy got on the bus at the hospital on crutches. He then decided he wanted to sit upstairs and struggled up the flight one step at a time. The driver waited for him to shout down to say he was seated, and then THUD - he fell off his seat and nearly ended up falling down stairs! Everybody looked at each other in disbelief. And he was only going about four stops. Of course, you can't do that much on the hospital run these days because most of the buses are the new low floor single-deckers, although they do still send double-deckers on the hospital run, or the single-deckers with steps.
Did you ever wonder where the benches from the old bus station went to? Well here are two of them at Bridge Foot along the walkway near the former Mr Smiths nightclub in 2007. Thanks DJKenny for the photo. Visit his website www.djkennylive.me.uk. He also has a radio spot on Radio Warrington, the online radio station for the town. Check out the site on www.radiowarrington.co.uk.
|This is a view of Warrington Interchange on 27 June 2010. Nothing exciting there. The time is 9:26 pm and not a bus in sight. Why? Well, this is the first day that Sunday evening services by Warrington Borough Transport do not run due to cutbacks in council funding as part of a wider review of budgets. In the 18 April 2013 edition of the Warrington Guardian it was reported that the bus company received a cash bailout said to be a six figure sum in a deal struck behind closed doors at the Town Hall on 15 April 2013.|
See more photos of Warrington's buses in Peter's Gallery
Link to Warrington Borough Transport/Network Warrington here.