The traditional place for the entrance on a double decker bus, stretching right back into Victorian times and horse-drawn omnibuses, was at the rear using an open platform. It was cheap, and people could get on and off quickly.
But this also had drawbacks: it was cold in winter and more worryingly, ‘platform accidents’ were a constant problem with serious injuries or occasionally fatalities caused by people falling off the opening. As well as the human cost, this made a big difference to insurance premiums for the bus companies. So in the 1950s, there was an increase in interest in moving to a ‘forward’ entrance, by the front wheel, with doors controlled by the driver or conductor.
Wigan Corporation was one of those that adopted the new style, and bus number 57 was built with this type of entrance in 1961. It was very much a local product: the chassis was built by Leyland just up the A49 road, and the coachwork was constructed by Wigan firm Massey Brothers.
Number 57 became quite a ‘pet’ at Wigan, probably because of the Heinz factory at Kitt Green – Heinz is famous for its ’57 varieties’ slogan. So after it passed with the Wigan Corporation Transport Department Department to Greater Manchester Transport in 1974, number 57 never received GMT orange but instead it was kept in clean condition in its Wigan colours. Eventually when it came out of service it entered a new life at the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester, in whose collection it remains today.
If you’d like to know more about the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester and its collection of vintage buses, go to www.motgm.uk.
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Tagged: , Museum , Transport , Cheetham , Manchester , www.gmts.co.uk , GMTS , bus , buses , Museum of Transport , GMTS collection , Greater Manchester Transport Society , Boyle Street , Cheetham Hill , M8 8UW , Leyland , PD3 , Titan , Massey , Wigan , Corporation , 57 , HEK705