Memories of the early 1990s battles between the former PTE operators in north-west England have been rekindled by the return to Merseyside of one of GM Buses South’s short-lived Birkenhead & District double-deckers.

The competition began when, rather than close Edge Lane works and otherwise reduce its overheads, MTL expanded beyond Merseyside and started operating in Greater Manchester in 1993, prompting GM Buses to register services in Liverpool. GM Buses was split in two in December that year and sold to management/employee buyouts in March 1994.

MTL’s expansion into Stockport prompted GM Buses South to retaliate with services on the Wirral peninsula, using 17 Northern Counties-bodied Leyland Fleetlines branded as Birkenhead & District and painted in a blue and cream livery modelled on that of Birkenhead Corporation. They operated from June 1994 until July 1995 when MTL also withdrew its last services in Greater Manchester.

North West Vehicle Restoration Trust chairman John Cherry has acquired the last of the 17 Fleetlines in service on the final day, 4116 (HDB 116V), in time for an official launch at the trust’s running and open day at Kirkby on June 4. It was new in April 1980 as Greater Manchester Transport 8116 and had been part of the Selnec Preservation Society’s collection.

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