John Greenwood (1788–1851) was the keeper of a toll-gate in Pendleton on the Manchester to Liverpool turnpike.[1] 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 £22.90 as at 2020.[a]Using average earnings of workers in 1824 compared with 2020.[2] 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.[3]

Greenwood’s carriages were said to be “little more than boxes on wheels”,[4] able to carry only eight or nine passengers inside,[5] and three or four sitting outside with the driver.[3] He offered three scheduled trips into the city and back each day: morning, noon, and evening.[3] The omnibus proved to be very popular; by 1850 Greenwood and his son– also called John – were operating sixty-four services in and around Manchester.[4]