Ticket to Ride

The initial stagecoach service in the Bacup area was operated by Mr. James Howorth from Tunstead. It had the capacity to transport six passengers inside and between ten to twelve outside, pulled by three or four strong horses. In 1864, a new horse-drawn bus service commenced, offering weekly trips from Bacup to Rochdale every Monday, with the journey lasting one hour. The fare was 1 shilling and 6 pence for an inside seat and 1 penny for an outside seat. By 1869, the Whitworth Vale Coach Company provided daily services from outside the Green Man on Yorkshire Street at 9:30 am, 2:00 pm, and 6:45 pm. Come May 1906, a motor bus began operating along Rochdale Road, Bacup, and St James Street, marking the route of the Whitworth Vale Motor Bus Company. In August of the same year, the Rossendale Division Carriage Company introduced a new bus that eventually expanded its service to Burnley.


Until 1909, Bacup maintained complete control over its transportation system, including the steam trams. However, with the advent of electric tram services in 1909, control was transferred to Rawtenstall for a 30-year term. This decision was influenced by Bacup’s significant debt from building the Cowpe reservoir, with hopes that by 1940, the Council would be financially stable enough to reclaim control of the transport system.


The Bacup Tramway, connecting Bacup and Rawtenstall, was established in 1889, initially utilizing steam power. On July 20th, 1889, Bacup buzzed with anticipation for the tramway’s official inspection and public launch. Crowds at Bulls Head Corner eagerly awaited the tram from Rawtenstall. The tram, consisting of a passenger car towed by a steam engine, encountered a hiccup when it derailed on Burnley Road multiple times. After re-railing efforts, it was resolved to set the terminus at the Market Hotel.

Not everyone was pleased with the steam tram, as locals lamented its foul odour and smoke, while Market Street shopkeepers bemoaned decreased foot traffic due to the tram’s convenience. By 1901, trams operated between Bacup, Waterfoot, and Rawtenstall every 20 minutes, or 15 minutes on weekends. The line was electrified in 1909 at £36,000 with connectivity to Rochdale enhanced in 1911 with the Rochdale Light Railway’s inauguration.

In 1932, Rawtenstall launched its inaugural motorized bus service and proposed that Bacup relinquish its 1939 rights to assume control of the service. They also sought an extension of Rawtenstall’s operational authority beyond 1939, offering financial compensation in return. Bacup Council agreed to this arrangement, effectively surrendering any future claims to operate a bus service within Bacup. Subsequently, on July 8, 1957, a novel bus route commenced, serving Thorn, Lodge Meadows, and Mettle Cote. The route connecting Bacup, Todmorden, and Burnley saw the introduction of the first single-decker buses operated by a single person in September 1962, and Bacup witnessed the debut of its first articulated “bendy” bus in March 19821.