Until the early-1970s, Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) provided bus links between Great Malvern, West Malvern, Wyche Cutting, Colwall Green and Ledbury, and between Ledbury and Wellington Heath, with several different direct routes. West Malvern was served by local Malvern Service M16, with Wyche Cutting and Colwall Green being served by local Malvern Service M27, and also by Service 477 which ran between Great Malvern and Ledbury via Colwall. Ledbury and Wellington Heath were linked by Service 474, and long distance Service X91 linked Great Malvern and Ledbury, running direct via Malvern Wells.
With falling passenger numbers, these routes were reduced and merged in the 1970s. The first change was when Service X91 was diverted to run via Wyche Cutting in October 1974, but more significantly Service M27 was withdrawn in April 1976, leaving only Service 477 serving Colwall Green. When Malvern depot closed in October 1976, Service M16 was withdrawn and replaced by diverting certain Service 477 journeys to run via West Malvern as variation Service 478, which also continued to Malvern Wells to partly replace the withdrawn section of Service 144.
With the introduction of “SevernLink” MAP Scheme on Saturday 13th January 1979, Service 477 and Service 478 were renumbered to Service M7 and Service M8, operated using 27-seat Shortened Ford R192 and R1014 (type code M2 and M3) vehicles. These were not successful and operation quickly changed to more conventional Leyland National single-deck buses.
When Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC) ceased trading as a bus and coach operator at the end of services on Saturday 5th September 1981, operation of these routes passed to the newly formed Midland Red (West) Limited. The new company did not like the use of the “M”-prefix route numbers so the routes were renumbered to Service 347 and Service 348 as part of a general revision of service starting on Saturday 20th March 1982. The Malvern Wells to Great Malvern section of Service M8 was withdrawn at this time.
The two routes were last operated by Midland Red (West) Limited on Saturday 31st May 1986 when they were withdrawn, probably in preparation to deregulation of the bus industry later that year. They were replaced by Service 675 operated by Newbury Coaches (Powell) of Ledbury, starting on Monday 2nd June 1986. Newbury Coaches’s Service 675 ran over the same route as Service 348, but the new route number bought it into line with the company’s existing routes in the Ledbury area. Certain journeys omitted West Malvern and followed the old Service 347 route but these journeys still carried the route number 675.
From Monday 22nd September 1986, certain peak-time journeys were rerouted to run via Wellington Heath, and this variation would later become standardised. Further variations to the route while operated by Newbury Coaches that were less successful included extending to Great Malvern Rail Station, and later to Malvern Wells and British Camp. By c. 2010, operation of Service 675 had passed to Astons Coaches of Kempsey.
Service 676 was introduced by First Midland Red Buses Limited between Great Malvern, West Malvern, Colwall and Ledbury, from Monday 4th September 2017, as part of a seven-year contract won from Herefordshire Council to operate bus services in the Ledbury and Bromyard area.
While the majority of journeys between Great Malvern and Ledbury ran as Service 675, and served Wellington Heath between Colwall Green and Ledbury, Service 676 was operated as a direct-working variation direct along the A449 past the Wellington Inn, and thus followed the same route as Midland Red Service 478 that had first been introduced in October 1976 when Malvern depot closed.
Service 676 was operated one return journey on schooldays only calling at John Masefield School, plus one evening journey from Great Malvern to Ledbury. All other journeys operate as Service 675 and operate a combined timetable to give a two-hourly frequency in each direction on six days a week, between Great Malvern, West Malvern, Colwall Green and Ledbury.
From Monday 15th January 2018 for approximately 7-weeks, West Malvern Road (B4232) was closed to allow for essential roadworks. During this period, all journeys on Service 675 and Service 676 were diverted to run direct between Great Malvern and Wyche Cutting, omitting West Malvern. Buses arriving in Great Malvern from Ledbury ran via Church Street, Graham Road and Moorlands Road to a temporary terminus at Link Top Bus Shelter. This was to ensure they were facing the correct way for the return journey to Ledbury. As the diversion route was quite a bit shorter than the normal route, a new temporary timetable was issued with less running time and additional layover time in Ledbury. Worcestershire County Council operated a free connecting minibus service for West Malvern, running a circular route along Cowleigh Road and Old Hollow, and timed to connect with First’s services at Wyche Cutting.
1 Certain journeys start or finish at John Masefield School on schooldays only.
2 Temporary Diversion (approx 7 weeks). All journeys run direct between Wyche Cutting and Great Malvern while West Malvern is closed for road works. Services terminate at Link Top Bus Shelter.
|676||FMR||September||2017||Great Malvern • Colwall Green • Ledbury|
|January||2018||Great Malvern • Colwall Green • Ledbury|
|March||2018||Great Malvern • Colwall Green • LedburyCurrent|