Sites in Worcester
Padmore Street depot, Lowesmoor, Worcester (depot code: WR)
- Until the late 1890s, the site of City Flour Mills between Padmore Street and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, opposite the “Vulcan Ironworks”. Site later redeveloped and used by McKenzie, Clunes & Holland, renamed McKenzie & Holland from 1875, then McKenzie & Holland Limited from 1901, for the manufacturing of railway signalling equipment. Worcester operations of the company closed in 1921. A number of railway branch-lines are used to access the site, some of which can still be seen embedded in Padmore Street to this day.
- Parts of the McKenzie & Holland site on Padmore Street acquired by Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) in 1927, in preparation for the expansion required to operate the new Worcester City local bus area network due to start the following year as part of the “Worcester Agreement”. The purchase included an eight-bay, steel-framed corrugated-iron factory sited between the canal and Padmore Street which was converted for use as a bus depot, and part of former railway sidings from the Vinegar Works branch line to be used for outdoor parking. Work to convert the building included removing the wall that faced onto Padmore Street and replacing it with a series of sliding doors to allow vehicle access. ‘MIDLAND “RED” MOTOR SERVICES.’ was painted in large letters above the doors.
- Worcester (Padmore Street) depot opened by BMMO for the start of the new Worcester City “W”-prefix local services on Friday 1st June 1928, and existing operations in the area transfer from Worcester (East Street) depot, which is now only used for overnight vehicle parking. Initial allocation included a sizable number (approx 30) of new SOS “QL” single-deck buses. All tram operations in Worcester City closed at this time, and the entire tramway system was later dug up.
- Garage extended in 1930 with the addition of two extra bays built over the former railway sidings at the south end of the main building. The new bays are notably wider and unlike the original building could accommodate full-height enclosed double-deck buses. With the extra capacity provided by this and the opening of Malvern (Portland Road) garage earlier in the year, Worcester (East Street) depot becomes non-operational.
- Garage repainted in c. 1937 without the sign writing above the doors. A two-story brick built extension including a new mess room on the first floor is built at the south end of the two-bay extension in June 1938, on top of a disused railway line. A reinforced concrete air raid shelter is included in the extension, and this would later be used as a tyre store until it was demolished in the early 1980s.
- Newport Street Bus Station opened on Monday 15th July 1946.
- Worcester (East Street) depot re-opened in 1949 as an outstation to provide additional capacity.
- One-man operation introduced at Worcester from Saturday 23rd March 1963. This was hugly unpopular amoung staff who had called several one-day strikes in protest during the previous year.
- Large area of land opposite the garage, between Padmore Street and Pheasent Street acquired in the 1960s for building of a new depot to replace both Worcester (Padmore Street) depot and Worcester (East Street) depot. However, this land is marked for a road building scheme by the City Council and the plans are put on hold, with the land used for outdoor parking. Neither the new depot nor the new road were ever built. The railway line alongside the depot was formally taken out of use in April 1965.
- Depot allocation of 91 vehicles* in February 1967, made up of 12 double-deck and 73 single-deck buses with 6 coaches. At about this time, the internal structure of the original building is modified to accommodate double-deck buses in certain areas. This work was presumably done in preparation of the arrival of Daimler Fleetline fleet numbers 6045–6055 in June 1967, when a number of local routes were converted to double-deck operations.
*This allocation also includes vehicles operating from the East Street site.
- Company renamed Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC) on Friday 29th March 1974, with a depot allocation of 78 vehicles and approximately 279 staff at this time.
- At the end of operations on Friday 1st October 1976, Malvern (Spring Lane) depot is closed. At this time a new network of services are introduced in the Malvern area, operated from Worcester (Padmore Street) depot, and Service 144 is fully converted to one-man operation using Leyland National single-deck buses. The final remaining double-deck buses at Worcester are withdrawn or re-allocated soon afterwards, and the depot only operates single-deck buses and coaches from this time.
- Control of Worcester depot passed to the newly formed Midland Red (West) Limited on Sunday 6th September 1981, with an allocation of 50 vehicles, when Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited ceased trading as a bus and coach operator.
- The two-story extension and air raid shelter from 1938 is demolished in the early 1980s, and replaced with a single-story brick built office block. The new building features toilet cleaning facilities for coaches used on National Express “Rapide” services. At the same time, the main part of the building is repainted into standard NBC blue, as used on all of their bus depots, and the whole building is fitted with a new roof and skylights.
- On Monday 22nd December 1986, Midland Red (West) Limited and Midland Red Coaches Limited are privatised and sold by National Bus Campany in a simultaneous bid by the management team from Midland Red (West) Limited led by the General Manager, Mr Ken Mills. The operations and assets of both companies pass to the newly formed Midland Red West Holdings Limited, and the official company name of Midland Red (West) Limited is changed to Midland Red West Limited (without brackets around the word 'West').
- Land used for vehicle parking at the North West corner of the site is sold in the late 1980s, becoming a “Courts” furniture warehouse, and customer car park. Now a supermarket.
- New exit gate leading to Pheasant Street used from Monday 25th July 1988.
- Midland Red West Limited renamed to First Midland Red Buses Limited on Friday 26th March 1999.
- The engineering section (two bays at the south end of the main building built in 1930) is badly damaged by fire on Wednesday 17th March 2004. Re-built from July 2004, and reopened in January 2005.
Vehicles 67320 (Dennis Lance SLF) and 2062 (Leyland Leopard towing truck) were destroyed in the fire, with several other vehicles being damaged and later repaired.
- Disabled access for pedestrians and new vehicle entry doors fitted in December 2005.
- New drains fitted and bus park area totally resurfaced from Monday 27th March 2006. Unused land to the north of the site is cleared and opened for staff parking.
- With a restructuring of FirstBus operations, from Saturday 1st October 2022, all Worcester depot operations come under the control of First West and Wales, with their Headquarters based in Bristol. There are no longer operational ties with First Leicester or First Potteries.