Basil Salty & Snowel Gallagher: Manchester’s funniest gritter names & how to track them as snow & ice forecast

Gritters will be tackling priority roads across Manchester in the current cold snap - and with a legion of funny names for the vehicles.

Gritters have been out and about in Greater Manchester this week with sub-zero temperatures causing tricky travel conditions for commuters.

Manchester city centre plus parts of Salford and Oldham saw a light skiff of snowflakes on Thursday evening and many woke up to a thick frost on Friday. The Met has issued a yellow weather warning for ice and sleet in the city-region which lasts til Sunday and is warning people to take care if making essential journeys.

The city council says it regularly grits about half of highways, prioritising bus routes, busy commuter routes and other busy roads that serve hospitals, schools, the airport, plus large employment and industrial areas. They also salt about 30 miles of pavements when the forecast is for prolonged spells of ice. You can check which streets are covered on the council’s website here.

It’s a tough job in icy conditions for the staff at the gritters’ wheel - but thanks to a public competition to name Manchester’s specialist vehicles two years ago, there is a little bit of humour at least when they jump into their machines. Here for a bit of fun, we look at some of the best gritter names.

Gritter names and how to track gritters in Manchester

When Manchester city council ran a contest on 2020 to ask folk to choose names for its gritters, it got more than 2,000 replies. The top ones were put out to a poll on social media and the wacky winners were inspired by sports people, comedians and even an eco campaigner.

The winners were Basil Salty, in a nod to John Cleese’s hapless Faulty Towers character; Grit Astley inspired by 80s hit-master Rick; Gritter Thunberg, in testament to the climate change activitist; Slushay Away in a nod to RuPaul; Snowbi-Gone Kenobi in honour of the Star Wars icon; Snowel Gallagher after the Oasis songsmith; and finally in honour of two Freddies - Spreaddie Flintoff and Spreaddie Mercury.

You can track where the gritters are in tour local area by following this online map on the council’s website.

Advice for driving in ice and snow

John Wilmot of LeaseLoco offered this advice to motorists to stay safe on the roads during the winter months, when road conditions are more treacherous.

  • Check your car lights. Defective lights present a greater hazard once the clocks change. Blown light bulbs can make it harder for other road users to work out how wide your car is. Make sure your headlights, indicators, brake lights and reverse lights are working.
  • Be alert, and take your time. Take your time, even when driving familiar routes. Be more aware of pedestrians and other road users in the gloom. Give cyclists a wide berth, as wet leaves and other debris on the road increase the chances of wheels slipping.
  • Check tyres and fluid levels. Check tyre pressure and make sure your tread depths are at least 3mm to be safe for winter conditions. Top up screenwash, antifreeze and oil levels if they’re low.
  • A clear field of vision. Ensure your windscreen is clean, and de-mist before setting off by turning up the heating and opening a window. Consider anti-fog products, to prevent moisture clinging to the windscreen. Check your wiper blades don’t leave any smears.
  • Night vision. Darker evenings enhance the glare of dazzling lights from oncoming traffic, and remember to dip your headlights when you meet other vehicles. It’s worth having your eyesight tested - which you should do regularly - as night driving puts extra strain on eyes.
  • Emergency kit. Pack an emergency kit in the back of the car with essentials, such as an ice scraper, de-icer spray, torch, first-aid kit, warm blankets, jump leads, and even a small shovel.