OBJECT OF WEEK
WHEN objects are donated to Gallery Oldham’s collection they frequently arrive with stories, and sometimes this ‘object history’ can lead in surprising directions.
These unremarkable scales were used in a general store and tobacconists in Middleton Road, Oldham, during the Second World War.
However, what makes them interesting is that the shop was the boyhood home of Geoffrey Hilditch.
During the war, to ensure that its fleet of buses was not decimated by a direct hit on one of its garages, Oldham Corporation parked some of its vehicles in streets around the town at night. Middleton Road was one such street, and from seeing the smart, crimson and white double-deckers outside his bedroom window, young Geoffrey developed a life-long interest in buses. He began his career on the railways, but soon transferred to municipal bus companies working as an engineer for Oldham, Coventry, Manchester, Leeds and Halifax Corporations, before becoming the country’s youngest General Manager at Great Yarmouth in 1959.
Hilditch went on to become one of the most respected experts on bus transport in the country and was even invited to advise the Thatcher Government on bus privatisation in the 1980s.
In retirement he wrote extensively on public transport and continued his interest in model railways before his death in 2017 at the age of 91.