I have not been able to establish exactly when the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) first introduced bus services between Worcester and Ledbury, but by 1923 there were BMMO services running between Worcester and Cradley and between Ledbury and Bosbury as Service 91A on Tuesdays for Ledbury Market Day.
By August 1924, the Worcester to Cradley service had been extended to Ledbury on Wednesdays as Service 126, with connecting buses in Ledbury to Hereford for Market Day.
By 1929, the Worcester to Ledbury services had been extended to Hereford, St. Peter’s Square (Shire Hall), running via Lugwardine, Bartestree, and Tarrington along the road which is now the A438. The service number 417 was allocated to the route at this time, this extended Hereford’s new local numbering sequence that had been introduced on Saturday 11th February 1928, starting with Service 422, when BMMO renumbered all of their service numbers into groups depending on the area of operation.
Service 417 buses ran between Worcester and Storridge via Bransford and Leigh Sinton much the same as the buses on the 417 route run today, but then ran via Stiffords Bridge, Prestons Cross and Finchers Corner between Storridge and Bosbury, with the village of Cradley not being served. Later, certain journeys turned at Finchers Corner and ran to Mathon (Coddington Turn), which was also the terminus on some short journeys.
Timetables from the late 1920s and early 1930s were quite complex, with each day of the week having a different, unique set of running times. Buses on Thursdays, for example, did not run between Ledbury and Worcester at all, while certain journeys on Tuesdays ran as Service 473, via Colwall and Ham Green, and certain journeys on Wednesdays ran as Service 410 via Ashperton.
On Thursday 1st July 1937, BMMO acquired the operations of H.F. Taylor and with it a service that ran between Ridgeway Cross, Finchers Corner, Prestons Cross, Stiffords Bridge, Leigh Sinton and Belmont. BMMO operated this route as Service 376 until Friday 27th May 1938, when it was withdrawn and replaced with additional journeys on Service 417, which were timed to connect at Leigh Sinton with Service 377 (Worcester–Leigh Sinton–Malvern) to provide a through service to Malvern. Service 377 was withdrawn on the outbreak of the Second World War and was not replace after the war finished, as the post-war Service 377 ran over a different route and did not serve Leigh Sinton.
By the 1950s, many Service 417 journeys ran between Hereford and Ledbury only, or between Worcester and Mathon only, with only a very small number of peak time journeys running the whole route between Worcester and Hereford. Also, from the early 1950s, a small number of market day journeys ran between Cradley and Ledbury, these Tuesdays only journeys were operated by Malvern depot, and were withdrawn in 1972.
By 1960, Service 417 had been shortened to run only between Worcester and Ledbury, and the Ledbury to Hereford section was replaced by extra journeys on Service 477 which ran between Great Malvern, Ledbury, and Hereford. This change was probably introduced because of the introduction of one-man operations at Hereford depot in 1956. Splitting the route at Ledbury would ensure that all journeys between Hereford and Ledbury could be operated solely by Hereford depot, and thus be completely converted to one-man operations.
1 During the 1940s and 1950s, very few journeys ran the whole route between Worcester and Hereford. Many journeys ran either between Worcester and Prestons Cross (or by the mid-1950s, Mathon) only, or between Ledbury and Hereford only.
2 Only certain journeys ran to Mathon, other journeys ran direct between Finchers Corner and Bosbury.
|417||BMMO||December||1930||Worcester • Cradley • Ledbury • Hereford|
|September||1946||Worcester • Cradley • Ledbury • Hereford|
|May||1960||Worcester • Cradley • Ledbury|
|March||1972||Worcester • Cradley • Ledbury|
On Saturday 11th March 1978, Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited introduced the “Wandaward” MAP area scheme in the Hereford area. At this time the timetable was just as chaotic as before, with only Monday and Friday running the same schedule. The Cradley to Ledbury section of the route was withdrawn on Saturdays and only ran with one or two journeys on weekdays. Service 418 was introduced as a variation running via Coddington Turn on Tuesdays only, partly replacing the Service 419.
The timetable issued at the “Wandaward” MAP launch stated that ”these services are at present under review”, and soon after, possibly with the “Severnlink” MAP scheme, the Cradley to Ledbury section was withdrawn on all days.
Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited ceased trading as a bus and coach operator at the end of services on Saturday 5th September 1981, and Service 417 passed to the newly formed Midland Red (West) Limited from the following day.
1 Only certain journeys ran to Mathon, other journeys ran direct between Finchers Corner and Bosbury.
|417||MROC||March||1978||Worcester • Cradley • Ledbury|