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]


a Using average earnings of workers in 1824 compared with 2020.[2]



Dennis, Richard. English Industrial Cities of the Nineteenth Century: A Social Geography. Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Frangopulo, N. J. Tradition in Action: Historical Evolution of the Greater Manchester County. EP Publishing, 1977.
Manchester Corporation Transport Department. A Hundred Years of Road Passenger Transport in Manchester. 1935,
MeasuringWorth. Five Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a UK Pound Amount, 1270 to Present. 2020,
Williams, Paul. Manchester Buses. Ebook, Amberley Publishing, 2016.