Historically Service 417 has was operated by Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) between Worcester, Cradley, Bosbury and Ledbury, with certain journeys extended to or from Hereford before the 1960s. By the time Midland “Red” ceased trading in September 1981, Service 417 had been shortened to run only between Worcester, Cradley and Maton.
Midland Red (West) Limited took over operation of Service 417 on Sunday 6th September 1981 following the closure of Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited. Soon after, probably around March 1982, the Cradley to Mathon section of the route was withdrawn so the route now only ran between Worcester and Cradley, running in a loop clockwise via Cradley Village, Finchers Corner, Prestons Cross and Stiffords Bridge, before returning to Worcester.
During this period the route and timetable for Service 417 remained largely unchanged, except for some journeys being extended to start and/or finish in Newport Street Bus Station before or after calling at Angel Place.
In the run up to regularisation in 1986, Midland Red (West) Limited gave notice to withdraw an evening return journey. Operation of this journey was won under tender by Smiths Motors (Ledbury) Limited, and was operated by them from Monday 2nd June 1986 to Friday 26th May 1989.
|Spring||1983||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
|June||1986||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
After privatisation, Midland Red West Limited operated the route with “Midland Express” branded Leyland Leopard coaches for a number of years. These were quite unsuitable for the narrow lanes around Cradley and were not really required as passenger numbers were low, but later they were replaced with Mercedes-Benz L608D minibuses were used which were much more suitable.
From Saturday 27th May 1989, additional journeys were operated with funding from Hereford & Worcester County Council. These journeys had previously been operated by Smiths Motors (Ledbury) Limited, and were won by Midland Red West Limited under the tendering process. Between Saturday 5th January 1991 and Saturday 28th December 1991, additional journeys were operated on Saturday afternoons by Rover Coaches (Bromsgrove) Limited.
On Sunday 25th October 1998, Service 417 was extended to serve Bosbury and Ledbury at the request of Herefordshire Council. Three return journeys were operated over the extended route between Worcester, Cradley and Ledbury, with the aid of subsidies from Herefordshire Council, with additional short-working journeys running only between Worcester and Cradley which were subsidised by Worcestershire County Council.
|February||1987||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
|April||1987||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
|April||1989||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
|May||1989||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
|January||1990||Halesowen ↔ Blackheath||Withdrawn Apr 1991|
|January||1990||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
|August||1992||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
|February||1996||Worcester ↔ Cradley|
|October||1998||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury|
|February||1999||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury|
In 1997, Midland Red West Limited became part of FirstBus and renamed to First Midland Red Buses Limited on Friday 26th March 1999. Initially First Midland Red ran Service 417 to the same timetable as operated by Midland Red West, but this arrangement didn't last long and under the tendering process First Midland Red lost part the contract to operate the service to Bromyard Omnibus Company Limited. From Monday 6th September 1999, First Midland Red only operated two return journeys each day, Monday to Friday, between Worcester and Ledbury, with Bromyard Omnibus Company operating journeys at other times and all journeys on Saturdays.
From Sunday 1st April 2001, the remainder of the contract passed to Bromyard Omnibus Company, who operated all journeys from that date.
|September||1999||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury||Withdrawn Apr 2001|
After five months of being operated solely by Bromyard Omnibus Company Limited, a single short-working journey between Worcester and Cradley was introduced by First Midland Red Buses Limited on Sunday 2nd September 2001. This journey departed Worcester Bus Station at 17:45 on Mondays to Fridays and terminated at Cradley (Buryfields) at 18:15. There was no journey in the other direction and no service on Saturdays or Sundays.
From Monday 24th March 2003, First Midland Red Buses Limited started operating additional Service 417 journeys alongside Bromyard Omnibus. The five-year contact to operate all Service 417 journeys was regained by First Midland Red Buses Limited on Monday 6th September 2004, and from that time four return journeys between Worcester and Ledbury ran each day, plus two short journeys between Worcester and Cradley.
Initially Worcester depot were unable to operate the new contract because of staff shortages so all journeys were worked by Hereford depot, and this continued for about two years before the service moved to Worcester depot.
One journey each day diverted to run via Wellington Heath between Bosbury and Ledbury. This section of the route was seldom used and withdrawn on Sunday 31st August 2008, with all journeys running direct along the B4214 from this time. On Saturday 5th September 2009 the contract for Service 417 passed to Astons Coaches.
1 During c. 2007, certain journeys via Fromes Hill, omitting Bosbury.
|New September||2001||Worcester → Cradley|
|January||2005||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury|
|May||2009||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury||Withdrawn Sep 2009|
In May 2017, Herefordshire County Council invited operators to submit tenders to operate Service 417 and other services in the Ledbury area. First Midland Red Buses Limited won this contract, which also included local Ledbury Service 600, Service 675 running between Ledbury, Colwall, West Malvern and Great Malvern, and Service 676 which runs as a variation to Service 675 omitting Ledbury Railway Station and Wellington Heath.
Service 417 was previously operated by Astons Coaches of Kempsey with three full return journeys and four short-working journeys each day, but this timetable was simplified for the new contract to eliminate the short-working journeys and give an overall reduction in service. The contract started on Monday 4th September 2017, which was the date for the start of the new school term, and is for a period of seven years with the option of a review after three and five years.
On Monday 14th May 2018, First introduced a number a changes to route operated as part of the Herefordshire contract. From this time, Service 417 had a new timetable with most journeys running about 10-minutes later. In addition, new Service 418 was introduced as a variation to Service 417, running on Summer Saturdays only direct between Cradley, Finchers Corner, and Worcester. This new route is to accommodate large numbers of Seasonal Workers using the bus on their day off, and is operated with a double-deck vehicle.
|New September||2017||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury|
|January||2018||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury|
|May||2018||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury|
|June||2018||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury|
|October||2018||Worcester ↔ Cradley ↔ Ledbury|