SIGHTS AND SOUNDS THAT THE BEE IS BUZZING AWAY

DVDs

Title: Greater Manchester Buses – City & Heritage

Producer: Independent Transport videos

Running time: 72min

Price: £16 UK, £18 rest of world

Title: Greater Manchester Buses – Around Manchester

Producer: Independent Transport videos

Running time: 110min

Price: £16 UK, £18 rest of world

These two videos —one shot within the city, the other across its surrounding population centres —are a record of Greater Manchester’s buses before franchising which, depending on your point of view, either brought order in place of chaos or bland uniformity in place of colourful variety.

Denis Strange’s productions offer no judgment of whether the Bee Network is to be welcomed or mourned. They come without any commentary, leaving viewers to savour the sounds of buses’ engines, gearboxes, air brakes, starter motors, horns and reverse alarms. These are interspersed with the different tone of Metrolink trams’ horns and the grinding of their steel wheels on steel rails, a public clock chiming the hour, the chirping of birds and occasional snatches of fragmented spoken words, like the off-camera voice of a man in Wigan saying something about “different buses”. The absence of commentary requires viewers to identify what they see on the screen, but for those who do there is a feast of sights to behold, taken between 2014 and 2023, years when routes and operators changed hands, fleets were updated and liveries changed. First shrinks while Go North West and Diamond step in, the former drafting newer vehicles in from other group companies and applying a range of route-specific liveries, Diamond investing heavily in new Wright StreetDecks.

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