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The People of Cheadle 


James Telford (Scotch Bob)


by Ian O'Brien

James Telford, or Scotch Bob as he was better known, was a familier figure around Cheadle,  he didn't originate from the local area, but from the small village of Canonbie, Dumfriesshire, south western Scotland. He was born in 1857 and by the age of 14, had already travelled the 141 miles from his home town to settle down in Stockport. He married Harriet Jane Harrison in 1876 who came from Bollington. By 1879, he was driving a large red horse-drawn bus owned by the Manchester Carriage Company. The carriage would typically be made from iron, wood and leather. 

By 1881, (according to the census) Scotch Bob was living on Back Lime Grove, Cheadle, with his wife and children James-John, William and Mary, and by 1911, they had moved to larger premises at number 8 Gatley Road. By this time, his son James-John and daughter Mary had moved away from home but he and wife Harriet settled down with William and another son named Matthew. His official occupation was that of a horse-bus driver. 


He sometimes drove three horses abreast, quoting Robbie Burns as he went. He knew most people along the way and his whip was constantly raised in greeting, come rain or shine.

By the year 1913, at the age of 56, the larger than life horse drawn bus driver, with his round red face and grey beard (who has been compared with the more modern "Captain Birdseye") had achieved a staggering, record breaking 937,000 miles travelling the one route between Cheadle and Manchester.

Fletcher Moss in his “ History of Cheadle " (published 1894) describes the early days of the Cheadle omnibus in the following words :— " When the stage coach business was at its best, in the earlier half of the 19th century, most of the coaches
going south to Manchester passed through Cheadle, as the roads were better and less hilly than those of Buxton.

 

There was a lot of history with horse-drawn carriage bus driving long before Scotch Bob was on the scene though! Manchester to Wilmslow was a 12-miles stage. When the railway was opened these coaches were not used, and Cheadle was left isolated until  some enterprising individual started one to run to Manchester and back, the fare being half-a-crown either way.

 

Perhaps 40 years since (1854) another was started, having more the character of an omnibus and the fare was reduced to a shilling. More buses were run and the fares were continually being reduced until everybody connected with them was ruined
In 1875 the sale of the Cheadle Omnibus Company to the Manchester Carriage Company was negotiated for £800 goodwill, and the stock at valuation. In 1876 (3 years before Scotch Bob started) the coaching mania was rather prevalent about London and extended even to the neighbourhood of Cheadle, for a coach was bought and run from the ‘ White Hart,' Cheadle, at 8-30 every morning, arriving at the ‘ Spread Eagle' Hotel, Manchester, at 9-15 and leaving at 5-00p.m., arriving at the ‘ White Hart' at 5-45 p.m. This journey of seven-and-a-half miles was punctually performed in the 45 minutes during the four summers of 1876-9 and very pleasant was the company."

 

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