Midland “Red”

Service 48: Service History


Service 48

The first motor omnibus service in the Malvern area was introduced on Monday 29th May 1905 by Morgan & Co., operating from their newly opened garage at Chestnut Villa on Worcester Road, Malvern Link. The service ran using a 22 h.p. Daimler between the Royal Oak Public House, Malvern Link, to Assarts Bank at the far end of Malvern Wells (near junction with Upper Welland Road), with eight return journeys each day except on Sundays as local authorities objected to omnibus operations on the Sabbath. In early 1906, Morgan & Co. were granted an additional licence to operate a motor omnibus service between Great Malvern and West Malvern, but due to the steep gradients on this route the idea was abandoned.

Meanwhile, local authorities granted a licence to Messers W. & B. Woodyatt to operate in competition against Morgans on the Malvern Link to Malvern Wells route, and thus Woodyatt's first motor omnibus service started on Monday 16th April 1906. Competing against Morgans, plus a number of horse brake operators, was not profitable for Woodyatt and the following year they withdrew their omnibus service and turned their efforts to operating tours.

In early December 1910, a motor omnibus operated by Morgan & Co. was badly damaged by fire while working the Malvern Link to Malvern Wells route. By this time the company had started production of their three-wheeler cyclecar, and this new vehicle had attracted great interest at the London Motor Show, so the fire prompted Morgans to abandon their omnibus operations and focus efforts on car manufacturing. The local authorities asked Woodyatts if they could provide a replacement omnibus service and they reluctantly agreed to operate the service for one year, on condition that no other operator would be granted a licence on the same route.

Throughout the following year the local authorities negotiated with a number of other operators to provide an expanded network of omnibus services in the Malvern area, but were unsuccessful. This left Woodyatts in a strong position and in 1912 they negotiated to operate three routes in Malvern. The first was the existing Malvern Link to Malvern Wells route, the second was between Barnards Green and Great Malvern, linking with the third route between Great Malvern, North Malvern and West Malvern. Three new 28 h.p. Dennis motor omnibuses were ordered to operate the routes, and the first two examples were delivered on Tuesday 26th November 1912. Delivery of the third vehicle was delayed, but operation of the Barnards Green, Great Malvern and West Malvern motor omnibus service finally started on Saturday 10th May 1913.

On Saturday 7th June 1913, the Worcester Electric Traction Company Limited started operating a motor omnibus service from Salters' Hall in Droitwich Spa to the Beauchamp Hotel in Great Malvern, via Worcester. This route partly ran over the same route as the Woodyatt’s service between Malvern Link and Malvern Wells, but under the conditions of the licence negotiated by Woodyatts the Worcester company were not permitted to carry local passengers between Malvern Link and Great Malvern. This route passed to the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) on Wednesday 4th November 1914 as their Service 25.

By March 1916, all but one of Woodyatt’s vehicles had been requisitioned by the War Office for troop movement duties during the First World War, but the company continued as best they could, operating all routes with their one remaining vehicle to a heavily reduced timetable. The situation soon came to the attention of Mr O.C. Power, Traffic Manager of the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services), who wrote to the authorities offering to take over Woodyatt’s services. With no objection from Woodyatts, the Barnards Green, Great Malvern and West Malvern service was assumed by BMMO on Saturday 22nd April 1916 as Service 48 in their chaotic route numbering system of the time. From the same date, BMMO replaced Woodyatt’s Malvern Link to Malvern Wells service by extending their existing Birmingham to Great Malvern Service 25 to continue past Great Malvern to Malvern Wells.

Service 48 (1916–1917)

Operated by Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited

Operation of W. & B. Woodyatt's service between Barnards Green, Great Malvern, North Malvern and West Malvern passed to the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) on Saturday 22nd April 1916, as Service 48. All journeys were operated using a one Tilling-Stevens petrol-electric omnibus housed at Worcester (St John's) depot.

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 less than one year after being introduced Service 48 was withdrawn. Service 25 was cut back to run only between Worcester and Malvern Wells at the same time.

Route Summary

  • Apr 1916–Mar 1917
  • Bardards Green
  • Great Malvern
  • North Malvern
  • West Malvern

Service 48 (1918–1925)

Operated by Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited

In a meeting with local authorities held on Monday 1st July 1918, the BMMO Traffic Manager, Mr O.C. Power, agreed to reinstate Service 48 between Great Malvern and West Malvern on condition that safety improvements were made to West Malvern Road at Redan Corner,†and that a suitable bus turning point at West Malvern was provided. The Barnards Green to Great Malvern section of the route was not to be reinstated at this time because the Tilling-Stevens petrol-electric omnibuses used by BMMO struggled to cope with the steep hill at the top of Church Street.

A new turning point was created on West Malvern Road at The Dingle, a site to the south of West Mavern near the junction of Maton Road (now named Harcourt Road), by clearing and resurfacing a disused quarry at the cost of £25 (about £1,000 adjusted for inflation). Later (c. mid-1930s) a brick-built shelter was erected and the site continued to function as a terminus and bus turning point until the withdrawal of Service M16 in October 1976. On Monday 3rd March 1919, changes were made to the other end of the route when the terminus was moved to a former taxi rank outside Rose Bank Public Gardens, and this site continues to serve as the starting point for West Malvern bus services to this day (now provided by First Midland Red Service 675). At the West Malvern end of the route, certain journeys were extended from c. May 1919 to continue to Wyche Cutting, before returning via West Malvern to Great Malvern. The direct route between Wyche Cutting and Great Malvern was not used as it was considered too dangerous for omnibuses at the time.

Over the following years, BMMO expanded their local omnibus network in the Malvern area with a number of new routes, all of which ran as Service 48. The first new route was introduced in June 1919, running between Great Malvern and Malvern Link to provided much needed additional capacity and avoid overloading on Service 25. From September 1919, an additional route was added from Great Malvern to Barnards Green and Poolbrook, operating five return journeys each day, finally replacing the service that had been withdrawn due to fuel rationing over two years before.

BMMO and other operators such as W. & B. Woodyatt ran a number of Summer Season tours from Malvern, starting in 1919, and additional omnibus route to locations outside of Malvern were established, such as BMMO's Service 50 to Tewkesbury from July 1921. However, for the next few years there was very little change to local Malvern Service 48, except for a direct route to Wyche Cutting. This was introduced on Saturday 15th July 1922, and during the Summer Season it was extended along Jubilee Drive to British Camp. From about the same time, the Wyche Cutting extension to the West Malvern route was changed to return to Great Malvern directly via Wyche Road, and became known as the “Round the Hills” route.

The most significant changes to Service 48 came on Saturday 17th May 1924, when two new routes were introduced. The first of these was between Great Malvern Post Office and the junction of Peachfield Road and St Andrew's Road, which BMMO called “Golf Links”. The second new route was between the Unicorn Inn in Great Malvern and the junction of Belmont Road and Somers Park Avenue, with certain journeys continuing to Malvern Link.

From Saturday 16th May 1925, BMMO renumber their entire network with new route numbers based on geographical area. Local Malvern area routes, previous all known as Service 48, were renumbered into the range 270–279.

† Redan Corner is the local name given for the tight bend on West Malvern Road (B4232), situated at the northern most edge of the Malvern Hills. The name was taken from a huge, barrack-like building dating from the 1850s that latterly became The Redan Public House. The building was a well known local landmark, being built on the side of a very steep hill near the bend, but after standing derelict for many years it was demolished in June 1980.

Route Summary

  • Jul 1918–May 1925
  • Great Malvern
  • North Malvern
  • West Malvern
  • Wyche Cutting 1
  • Great Malvern 2
  • Sep 1919–May 1925
  • Great Malvern
  • Barnards Green
  • Poolbrook
  • Jul 1922–May 1925
  • Great Malvern
  • Wyche Cutting
  • British Camp 3
  • May 1924–May 1925
  • Great Malvern
  • Link Top
  • Belmont
  • Malvern Link 4

1  Certain journeys continue to Wyche Cutting from c. May 1919.
2  Certain journeys continue to Great Malvern via Wyche Road from July 1922 as “Round the Hills” route.
3  Certain journeys continue to British Camp during the Summer Season only.
4  Certain journeys continue to Malvern Link.


Timetable Archive

August1924Great Malvern ↔ West MalvernWithdrawn May 1925