Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) first offered a bus service between Worcester and Bromyard in 1915, which was shortly after the company first started operating buses in Worcester. Likewise, a bus service between Hereford and Bromyard started in 1920, about the same time the company first started operating buses in that city. It is not known when these two services were married together, but this would have resulted in the birth of Service 420 which to this day still runs between Worcester, Bromyard, and Hereford, although the Midland “Red” connection has now largely come to an end following the closure of Hereford depot.
Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC) ceased trading as a bus and coach operator at the end of operations on Saturday 5th September 1981, and all bus services and the resources to operate them were divided among four newly formed companies. Both Hereford depot and Worcester depot passed to Midland Red (West) Limited, so the operation of Service 420 and it’s variation Service 419 was assumed by that company when it started trading on the following day.
Initially, the timetable was unchanged from that operated by Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC). All journeys ran direct between Worcester and Broadwas along the Bromyard Road, but from June 1982 the route changed to run via Bransford Road, Rushwick, and Claphill Lane, and journeys towards Hereford were rerouted to call Angel Place after departing Newport Street Bus Station. At the same time, there were minor changes to the timetable with running times being adjusted.
An early morning short-working journey of Service 419 between Newtown and Hereford was soon withdrawn, but otherwise, the number of journeys remained unchanged until privatisation five years later.
On Monday 22nd December 1986, the business and operations of Midland Red (West) Limited and Midland Red Coaches Limited were privatised and sold by the National Bus Company (NBC). The two companies were merged to form Midland Red West Limited (without the brackets around the word “West”). Midland Red West Limited continued to operate Service 419 and Service 420 to the same timetable, but it wasn't long before a number of changes were made.
|420||MRW||September||1981||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|Spring||1983||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|July||1986||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
After privatisation, Service 420 underwent a number of changes as the new company experimented with ways to make improvements and keep the corridor profitable. This included a short-lived variation from Saturday 1st July 1989 to Friday 31st August 1990, which ran via Alfrick and Bransford between Knightwick and Worcester, as Service 421.
All of the full-length journeys between Hereford and Worcester were operated by Hereford depot, with only a few short journeys between Worcester and Bromyard being operated by Worcester depot, and this arrangement remained unchanged for many years.
On Monday 15th September 1997, Yeomans Canyon Travel started operating journeys on Service 420 in direct competition with Midland Red West Limited. Two off-peak journeys were run in each direction between Hereford and Worcester, 10-minutes in front of the Midland Red West bus. Yeomans quickly realised the majority of passengers were to be found on the Hereford to Bromyard section of the route, and on Monday 17th November 1997 they withdrew their Bromyard to Worcester working in order to add more journeys between Hereford and Bromyard. The competition came to an end in October 1999 when Yeomans withdrew their interest in Service 420.
1 Certain journeys run direct via A44 Bromyard Road between Crown East and Worcester.
|420||MRW||July||1989||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|September||1990||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|April||1992||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|October||1994||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|November||1998||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
In 1997, Midland Red West Limited had become part of FirstBus, and the company renamed to First Midland Red Buses Limited on Friday 26th March 1999. Service 420 continued to be operated unchanged by Hereford depot with a small number of short journeys between Worcester and Bromyard being operated by Worcester depot.
From Monday 3rd September 2001 an evening service was offered between Hereford and Bromyard when a new variation to Service 420 was introduced with funding from Herefordshire County Council. The new evening journeys ran as Service 418 from Hereford Country Bus Station via St. Peter’s Square, Ledbury Road, Lugwardine and Bartestree to White Stone, then ran over the same route as Service 420 to Bromyard. Journeys towards Bromyard departed Hereford at 18:45, 20:15, and 22:45 with return journeys departing Bromyard at 19:27 and 20:55.
In 2002, Central Government were allocating money to County Councils for them to expand bus services in their area. Herefordshire County Council used some of this money to partly fund Service 420 and increase the frequency to run once an hour in each direction. Under the same scheme, money was also provided to part-fund low-floor buses to be used on rural routes in Herefordshire and as a result, First Midland Red Buses Limited took delivery of four TransBus Enviro300 single-deck buses in January 2004. The four new vehicles were given fleet numbers 420–423 (soon renumbered to 67601–67604) and entered service at Hereford depot, but the situation did not last and on Sunday 5th September 2004 the contract for the additional journeys ended.
Herefordshire County Council invited tenders for a new contract to operate the journeys that were not run commercially by First and Bromyard operator David Morris (“DRM Bus”) offered to operate some of these on a commercial basis, and thus the frequency of Service 420 operated by First was reduced to run every two hours in each direction. Meanwhile, new rules restricting the maximum length of local bus services to 50 kilometres (approx 31 miles) forced First to shorten the route as it was too long, but only by less than a mile. This was done by moving the terminus in Hereford from St. Peter’s Square (Shire Hall Bus Station) to the Country Bus Station off Commercial Road, and by changing the route at Withington to run via Withies Road, no longer serving White Stone. The Service 419 variation running via Shucknall and Newtown was too long by several miles so this was withdrawn, and as a result of the cuts, one of the new buses bought to offer low-floor vehicles in Herefordshire became surplus to requirement at Hereford depot and moved to Worcester depot.
In September 2013 First Midland Red started operating additional full-length journeys on Saturdays only, and for the first time in many years, these were operated by Worcester depot. To save on the cost of training staff only four drivers at Worcester were given training for the Bromyard to Hereford section of the route, and these four drivers were responsible for all of Worcester’s working on the full route.
1 Certain journeys run direct via A44 Bromyard Road between Crown East and Worcester.
|420||FMR||February||2001||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|September||2002||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|September||2013||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
|August||2014||Worcester • Bromyard • Hereford|
On Monday 29th June 2015, First Midland Red Buses Limited announced the closure of Hereford depot from the end of services on Saturday 5th September 2015, with all FirstGroup services in Hereford being withdrawn. From Monday 7th September 2015 operation of most Service 420 journeys was taken over by DRM (Bromyard) Limited (“DRM Bus”), but First Midland Red continued to operate Service 420 from Worcester depot, but at a vastly reduced timetable, running only two short weekday return journeys between Worcester and Flaggoners Green, Bromyard, in competition with DRM Bus. There was no longer a weekend service offered by First Midland Red.
From Sunday 4th September 2016 DRM Bus withdrew the Bromyard to Worcester section of their first journey in the morning, plus the same section of their lunchtime journey. First Midland Red adjusted the times of their first journey to connect with the DRM Bus service from Hereford and agreed to accept through tickets issued by DRM Bus. In return, DRM Bus agreed to accept First tickets on two of their afternoon journeys. This ticket agreement ended on Sunday 3rd September 2017 when DRM Bus withdrew in protest at loosing the Herefordshire Council contract to operate Service 672, Service 674 and Service 482 to First Midland Red.
1 Certain journeys run direct via Bromyard Bypass and do not serve Bromyard, Pump Street.
2 Certain journeys run direct via the A44 and do not serve Whitbourne Shelter.
|420||FMR||September||2015||Worcester • Bromyard|
|April||2016||Worcester • Bromyard|
|September||2016||Worcester • Bromyard|
|July||2017||Worcester • Bromyard|
|September||2017||Worcester • BromyardCurrent|