Mary Naylor takes a look at the fascinating history of the old Bolton bus station in Moor Lane, which is now little more than rubble since demolition started.

IT is the end of an era as the rubble piles up in what was Moor Lane Bus Station.

Where the open-sided stands and the cafe used to sit, twisted metal, concrete and bricks now lie in heaps.

Where lines of double-deckers used to wait is now only weeds as the land is cleared.

The depot closed its doors last September to make way for the £48 million Interchange.

Many born and bred in Bolton will remember the station in Moor Lane being rebuilt in 1969 and some the station which stood there before.

There has been a bus station on the site since the 1930s and the steel canopies which were built later were billed as “revolutionary” at the time and were the largest ever created by contractors Conder at 14,500 sq ft.

Not everyone approved of the change though. Rules at the new station prompted 100 bus drivers and conductors or “clippies” of Ribble bus company to go on strike because they were prevented from using the new toilets which were reserved for office staff.

That same year saw the first driver-only bus operate, the 15 to Wigan where passengers had to “pay as you enter”.

In 1970 women took the wheel for the first time. Kathleen Bleazard, aged 40, Marjorie Corley, aged 25 and Jean Barnes, also 40, were the first ladies to complete the driver training.

But the history of buses in Bolton predates Moor Lane though as an experimental service began running in the town in 1903 with one of the first routes running between Darcy Lever and Brownlow Fold. The first permanent bus routes were set up on December 29, 1923.

The curtain on the bus station of the past closed on September 3, 2017 when the last bus left Stand K ­— the 12.10am 524 service to Bury.

Driven by 33-year-old Lulama Cobo, from Birmingham. As the single-decker pulled away into Black Horse Street, he gave a hearty ‘bon voyage’ out the window and disappeared into the night.

The new Interchange in Great Moor Street opened that day.

The Moor Lane station has mostly been deserted since then.

During the Ironman UK weekend in July the plot was used for storage and contractors J Freeley Demolition moved in almost three weeks ago to lay waste to the bus station that has served the town faithfully for almost 90 years.

The demolition project is costing around £200,000 and the go ahead was given for it by the council in May.

The work is expected to be completed in time for Bolton Food and Drink Festival on August 24 and the final clean of the site will have to be conducted by hand with contractors sweeping the site clear of dust and debris.