OB­JECT OF WEEK

Glossop Advertiser - - News - Sean Bag­ga­ley

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.

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