Motor omnibus services between West Malvern (Post Office), Great Malvern and Barnards Green were first introduced by W. & B. Woodyatt Limited on Saturday 10th May 1913 as an addition to their existing service between Great Malvern and Malvern Wells. Seven return journeys were operated each day on Mondays to Saturdays, some of which continued past Barnards Green to Poolbrook. A Sunday service was not offered as the local authorities objected to vehicles working on the Sabbath.
This service lasted for about three years until all but one of Woodyatt’s vehicles were requisitioned by the War Office for troop movement duties during the First World War. The company continued as best they could, operating both routes with their one remaining vehicle at a heavily reduced timetable. The situation soon came to the attention of Mr. O.C. Power, Traffic Manager of Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services), who wrote to the authorities offering to take over the service. With no objection from Woodyatt, the West Malvern service was assumed by BMMO on Saturday 22nd April 1916 as Service 48, using a vehicle housed at Worcester depot. At the same time, BMMO replaced Woodyatt’s other service by extending their existing Service 25 between Birmingham to Great Malvern, to run past Great Malvern to Malvern Wells.
Although BMMO did not loose any of their vehicles to the war effort, fuel was in short supply and vehicles were being run on a mixture of paraffin and petrol which was less than ideal, and vehicles struggled on the steep hills around Malvern. On Thursday 1st March 1917, fuel rations were again reduced and the Ministry of Munitions ordered operators to abandon all services that were not of national importance, so Service 48 was withdrawn and Service 25 was cut back to run only between Worcester and Malvern Wells.
Service 48 between Great Malvern and West Malvern was reinstated in c. July 1918 on the agreement that the local Council would make improvements to the road, and build a new bus turning point and terminus at West Malvern. The Barnards Green to Great Malvern section of the route was not reinstated because the petrol-electric Tilling-Stevens vehicles used by BMMO during this period struggled to cope with the steep hill, but from September 1918, Barnards Green was linked with Great Malvern by a new local service that ran via Malvern Link.
Although the Great Malvern to West Malvern route was known as Service 48, this was rather misleading as the same route number was allocated to all local Malvern services, and by 1924 several new local Malvern routes had been introduced. Individual route numbers were introduced on local services in 1925, and the West Malvern service became Service 270. From Sunday 2nd August 1925, Sunday journeys were introduced to West Malvern when the local Council gave permission for the service to run on the Sabbath, following a successful introduction of Sunday services on the British Camp service. On Saturday 11th February 1928, BMMO renumbered all of their services and Service 270 then became Service 366.
On Monday 7th January 1935, Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) renumbered local Malvern services with ‘M’-prefix route numbers. At this time, Service 366 running between Great Malvern and West Malvern became new Service M16.
Service M16 continued to operate throughout the Second World War and remained unchanged for many years, other than moving the Great Malvern departure point to opposite the Post Office and later back to Belle Vue Terrace. The number of journeys increased to a peak of three or four an hour during the early 1950s, but from Saturday 29th December 1956 this reduced to a 30-minute frequency during the off-peak period due to falling passenger numbers.
While most journeys were operated from Malvern depot, from Saturday 31st October 1959, the 10:45 departure on weekdays was operated by a vehicle from Hereford depot before it returned to its home City on the 11:45 Service 477. From the same date, vehicles from Hereford depot would operate five return journeys on Service M16 each Saturday, as there was an extended timetable for Service 477 on that day which resulted in a number of Hereford vehicles arriving at Great Malvern with time to kill before returning to Hereford.
On Saturday 2nd May 1970, Malvern depot finally introduced one-man operation, being the last BMMO depot to do so. From this date, certain journeys on Service M16 were one-man operated, but some journeys continued to be crew-operated.
All Sunday journeys on Service M16 were withdrawn after the end of operations on Sunday 16th April 1972, followed by all Sunday journeys on Service 477 after Sunday 1st October 1972, leaving the Wyche, Colwall and West Malvern areas without any buses on Sundays.
|M16||BMMO||January||1935||Great Malvern • West Malvern|
|May||1960||Great Malvern • West Malvern|
On Monday 3rd December 1973, Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) sold a number of depots and their operation in the Birmingham area to West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE), and to reflect this the company renamed to Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC) on Friday 29th March 1974. Other than the name of the operator, this event did not directly impact operation of Service M16, and the service continued unchanged.
The company continued to make large numbers of cuts throughout the 1970s, and Malvern depot depot was closed after the end of operations on Friday 1st October 1976. All local Malvern ‘M’-prefix services were withdrawn at this time and replaced with a new network of services operated by Worcester depot. Service M16 was partly replaced by new Service 478 which ran between Malvern Wells, Great Malvern, West Malvern, Colwall Green and Ledbury.