John Greenwood (1788–1851) was the keeper of a toll-gate in Pendleton on the Manchester to Liverpool turnpike. In 1824 he inaugurated the United Kingdom’s first omnibus service, between Pendleton and Market Street in Manchester, for which he charged 6d, equivalent to £21.50 in 2017.[a] Although expensive, and thus restricted to wealthy patrons, Greenwood’s omnibus was relatively cheap when compared to the alternative of hiring a hackney coach for the same journey.
Greenwood’s carriages were said to be “little more than boxes on wheels”, able to carry only eight or nine passengers inside and three or four sitting outside with the driver. He offered three scheduled trips into the city and back each day: morning, noon, and evening. The omnibus proved to be very popular; by 1850 Greenwood and his son– also called John– were operating sixty-four services in the Manchester area.
- Using average earnings of workers in 1824 compared with 2017