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A transport history of Yardley, by P. L. Hardy


 

This was produced for the Millenary Celebrations in 1972. It is copyright the late Peter Hardy. We thank his widow for permission to include this on our site, and also the Birmingham Transport Historical Group, who commissioned the article.

The Early Days

In very early days there was very little movement of people from one place to another, but, as prosperity and settlement grew during the seventeenth century, public passenger transport emerged in response to a growing demand for some organised means of travel. The idea of a regular service over a defined route at a specified time grew up with the stage coaches and, as Yardley lay across three main roads out of Birmingham, residents could, if they so wished, travel to most parts of the country. The coming of railways resulted in the virtual extinction of the stage coaches, for, although steam was applied successfully to rail transport, and to some extent to goods road transport, it never got beyond the experimental stage when applied to road passenger transport. Nevertheless, Yardley was able to witness at least one of the experimental steam coaches, as Dr. Church's "London and Birmingham Steam Coach" was tested along the Coventry Road on 6th October, 1834.

 

It was as towns began to increase in size, due to the Industrial Revolution, that the public road passenger vehicle began to return in the shape of the short-distance horse omnibus. The first in Birmingham commenced operation on 5th May, 1834, but, by 1869, there were still only about twenty in the whole town, each of the main roads being served by an individual operator. Abraham Whitehouse ran along the Stratford and Warwick roads, while a service along the Coventry Road, "which started at wide intervals and was constantly overcrowded", was provided by Mr. C. Heath.

 

In May, 1869, the Birmingham Omnibus Company was formed by William and Daniel Busby, of Liverpool, and, while none of the company's original routes served Yardley, Heath's service was taken over early in 1870. The Birmingham Omnibus Company was itself taken over in October, 1871, by the Birmingham & District Tramways Company, Ltd., formed to develop street tramways in and around Birmingham, although no lines were proposed to Yardley, as the traffic to this district was not considered heavy enough to be remunerative. The Tramways Company was soon in financial difficulties, the omnibus services were abandoned, and once again the small proprietors took over. Thomas Chapman, Jnr., appeared on the Coventry Road route, while, on 8th May, 1878, the business of Abraham Whitehouse was acquired by Charles Lane. Mr. Lane lived at one time at Billesley Hall, now part of Moseley Golf Course, and used part of the land as a sanatorium for his omnibus horses. In 1913, he went to live at The Beeches, Hall Green, and took an important part in housing developments in Yardley and Hall Green until his death on 31st August, 1933.

 

Rails in the Roads

From the beginning of tramways, Birmingham Corporation resolved to construct the tracks themselves, leasing them to companies for operation, and a line along the Coventry Road, as far as Golden Hillock Lane, was included in the Birmingham Corporation Tramways Order, 1872, but the powers lapsed before this particular line could be laid. Between 1882 and 1886, a large number of tramway schemes were promoted in the Birmingham district. So far as Yardley was concerned, the Birmingham & Suburban Tramways Order, 1882, authorised a line from Birmingham along the Stratford Road to the city boundary, continuing into Yardley as far as Showell Greeen Lane; also a line along the Coventry Road to Small Heath Park, which did not actually penetrate into Yardley proper. The South Birmingham Tramways Order, 1884, authorised lines along the Warwick Road, from the Stratford Road as far as "The Dolphin" at Acocks Green; and the South Birmingham Tramways Order, 1886, authorised a line continuing along the Coventry Road from Small Heath Park to Yardley (Swan). A line along Yardley Road, Sherbourne Road and Dudley Park Road, connecting the Coventry and Warwick roads was also proposed in 1886, but was not sanctioned.

 

The Birmingham Central Tramways Company, Ltd., was formed on 24th January, 1883, to take over the schemes authorised by the Birmingham & Suburban Order and the company of the same name formed on 22nd December, 1881. The Central company commenced construction of the lines outside the city, including those in Stratford Road, Sparkhill, in the summer of 1883. They were complete by the end of the year, but it was not until October, 1884, that work was commenced on the lines in the City of Birmingham, which the Corporation had undertaken to lay. Much of the delay was due to the protracted negotiations on the question of the use of steam as a motive power, but, on 11th May, 1885, steam trams began to run from Showell Green Lane, via Bradford Street, to Smithfield, which was as close to the city centre as the authorities would allow them at that time, though they were eventual1y extended to a Point in Hill Street, near New Street Station, from 20th June, 1885. On 16th January, 1886, the Coventry Road steam tramway route was opened to a terminus near Dora Road.

 

The Central Tramways Company were determined to control all the public transport in Birmingham and set about purchasing all the opposition omnibus services and the tramway powers held by other companies. On 1st April, 1886, the powers of the South Birmingham Company to Acocks Green and Yardley were purchased and on 1st May, 1886, the bus business of Charles Lane was acquired. This now consisted of routes from High Street, Birmingham, to Bordesley Green and Yardley Road; Small Heath, Yardley and Sheldon; Sparkbrook, Hall Green and Shirley; and Acocks Green.

 

The Central company laid down tram tracks along the Warwick Road as far as Greet Bridge in the summer of 1886, and a service of steam trams was advertised to start on 16th November, 1887, but did not start on that day. Indeed if any service was ever operated, it was between 26th March and 28th April, 1888, during which period the company's route mileage showed a small increase. In any case, the tracks were taken up in 1895, while none of the other South Birmingham lines were ever laid down.

 

The company continued to operate the horse omnibus services in competition with their own steam trams, with alarming financial results. Following a change of the board of directors, the omnibuses to Sparkbrook and Small Heath were withdrawn after 4th June, 1887, and, at the same time, the services to Shirley, Acocks Green and Sheldon were altered to run only to meet the trams at Sparkbrook and Small Heath. Further economies were soon found necessary, and Charles Lane returned to take over the operation of the Bordesley Green, Yardley and Acocks Green routes once more.

 

On 29th September, 1896, a new company, the City of Birmingham Tramways Company, Ltd., was formed to take over the assets of the Central company, with the object of converting the tramways to overhead electric traction. Unfortunately, the Corporation and the company were unable to agree on terms and, on 7th March, 1899, the Corporation resolved to seek Parliamentary powers to work all the tramways within the city themselves on the expiry of the various leases. These powers were included in the Birmingham Corporation Act, 1903.

 

As a result, all lines within the city had been struck out of the City of Birmingham Tramways Act, 1897, which authorised the company to construct, inter alia, an extension of the Stratford Road tramways as far as College Road and an isolated section of line between Yardley (Swan) and the Birmingham boundary on the Coventry Road at Hay Mills Bridge. The Stratford Road extension was opened as a steam tramway in June, 1900 - the last steam tramway extension in the Birmingham district.

 

At various dates from 1897 onwards the British Electric Traction Company, Ltd., had purchased a number of tramway companies in the Birmingham area, and, in June, 1902, a major interest was acquired in the City of Birmingham Tramways Company. An area organisation was set up for the district, with the object of converting all the tramways to overhead electric traction and of combining them under one management.

 

Turning once more to the omnibus services, on 3rd April, 1897, Charles Lane again sold his routes and stock, this time to the Birmingham General Omnibus Company, Ltd., for which firm he acted as managing director. This company also acquired at the same time the Birmingham & District Omnibus Company, Ltd., which, since September, 1895, had maintained a service between Birmingham and Shirley, originally operated by Sumner Bros., of Digbeth. The Birmingham General Company went into liquidation in September, 1899, and the assets were purchased by the British Electric Traction Company, Ltd. On 31st December, 1901, the omnibus business was transferred to the BET-controlled Birmingham & Midland Tramways, Ltd., and finally was amalgamated with the Birmingham Motor Express Company, Ltd., which had pioneered motor omnibuses in Birmingham, as the Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Company, Ltd. The BMMO company commenced operation from 1st June, 1905, and, although giving up motor vehicles after 5th October, 1907, and reverting to horse traction, one of its vehicles, a Milnes-Daimler charabanc (0 2620) was licensed by Yardley Rural District Council (Plate No.30) in March, 1907, for use mainly on Sunday trips to Earlswood and Stonebridge.

 

In 1903, the CBT company entered into an agreement with the Yardley Council whereby the Council waived its right to purchase the tramways in the district until 14th August, 1933. The CBT company were to construct, as an overhead electric tramway, the line along the Coventry Road authorised by the 1897 Act, and Birmingham Corporation were to construct and lease to the company the section between the existing steam car terminus at Small Heath and the city boundary, which had been authorised by the City of Birmingham Tramways Act, 1901. In addition, the Birmingham District Tramways Act, 1903, authorised tramways along the Warwick Road, from the Stratford Road as far as St. Bernard's Road, Olton, and along the Stratford Road, from College Road to Union Lane, Shirley.

 

Electricity

CBT electric cars began to run between Yardley and Small Heath on 29th March, 1904. The depot and power station was situated adjacent to the terminus at Yardley and diesel engines were used to generate the electrical energy - an innovation at that time. By now the steam car tracks between Small Heath and Birmingham were in need of reconstruction, and agreement was reached with Birmingham Corporation for the immediate electrification of the Coventry Road steam car route and its future working by the company as a through electric car route from Birmingham to Yardley until the lease expired. The service through to the centre of Birmingham commenced on 23rd February, 1905.

 

The majority of the leases held by the CBT company, including those relating to the Stratford and Coventry roads, were due to expire at the end of 1906, after which Birmingham Corporation proposed to take over operation and, at the same time, to substitute new electric cars for the old steam trams. The last steam tram ran along the Stratford Road on 31st December, 1906, and, on 1st January, 1907, the service to Yardley became jointly operated by the Corporation and the company, the number of cars provided by each being in proportion to the mileage inside and outside the city, while the Stratford Road service was maintained wholly by Birmingham Corporation cars, although the power for the section outside the city was supplied from the power station at Yardley, being carried by underground cable across country by the shortest route. An entirely new tram route, branching off the Stratford Road along Stoney Lane as far as Doris Road, was also opened on 1st January,1907.

 

It was a condition of the omnibus licences issued by the Birmingham Watch Committee that there should be no competition with the Corporation electric cars, and it was the practice to withdraw the horse omnibuses as soon as conveniently possible after the opening of a new Corporation tramway. The omnibus services from Birmingham to Shirley and Acocks Green survived until 5th October, 1907, but, from the following day, the two services operated inwards only as far as the "Mermaid", at the junction of the Stratford and Warwick roads. It was soon found that the Acocks Green section was not paying its way and, from 11th December, 1907, this route was discontinued and the Shirley route further curtailed to operate only between Shirley and the tram terminus at College Road. From 1st October, 1908, however, the Shirley route was joined to an existing route between Moseley, Edgbaston and Handsworth Wood, by an extension along College Road and Wake Green Road.

 

Yardley Swallowed

On 9th November, 1911, the Rural District of Yardley, along with certain other districts, was incorporated into the City of Birmingham and, in order to control the tramways in the whole of the extended city, Birmingham Corporation resolved to purchase the CBT undertaking outright, taking over from 1st January, 1912. The Yardley depot and power station was closed down, the cars and electrical energy henceforth being provided from sources in Birmingham.

 

Plans were immediately prepared for the provision of better facilities between the city and the suburbs, and the Birmingham Corporation Act, 1912, included powers for an extension of the Stratford Road tramway to Fox Hollies Road and a line along the Warwick Road to Westley Road. Extensions of both the Bordesley Green and Washwood Heath tramways to Stechford were omitted from the final draft of the Bill as "the detailed preparations were not sufficiently advanced."

 

A suggestion was made during the negotiations for the purchase of the CBT company that the Corporation might also be interested in purchasing the undertaking of the BMMO company, but, at the time, the Corporation did not possess general powers to operate omnibuses. In 1911, the BMMO company ran only horsed vehicles and their routes were all in the immediate vicinity of Birmingham. In view of later developments, it is a matter for speculation what the effect might have been on road passenger transport in the Midlands if the offer had been accepted at this time.

 

In 1912, the BMMO company reintroduced motor omnibuses, this time with much greater success, and set about "motorising" all the horse omnibus routes. The extension of the Corporation tramways limited the company's scope for expansion in Birmingham, while the Corporation wanted the omnibus routes to complete their monopoly of transport services in the city, so a clash of interests was imminent. This was avoided by an agreement reached in January, 1914, when the Birmingham Council approved the purchase from the BMMO company of thirty double-deck buses and a leasehold interest in a garage at Tennant Street, together with all the services actually in operation wholly within the city. In future, the Corporation was to develop all services entirely within the city, leaving the BMMO company to turn its attention to services from Birmingham to places outside, charging protective fares over the Corporation routes. The agreement has been modified slightly from time to time, but the basic principle remains the same to this day.

 

However, the agreement could not be brought into operation until the Corporation had obtained the necessary general omnibus powers, for which it had to wait until 1914, as a Bill promoted in 1913 was rejected by the ratepayers, not through any fault of the Tramways Committee, but due to the fact that it contained a clause inserted by the Parks Department to permit "bands to play and boats to be rowed in Cannon Hill Park and Victoria Park, Small Heath", despite a restriction imposed by the donor, Miss Louisa Anne Ryland. Some people naturally approved of the Sunday restrictions, but many others felt that the Corporation should respect the wishes of its benefactor (sic). On 4th October, 1914, the Corporation commenced operation of the former BMMO services, but none of these entered the Yardley district at the time of the takeover.

 

Midland Red

In the meantime, therefore, the BMMO company continued to develop its motor omnibus business. On 19th April, 1913, the first regular operation of motor omnibuses in the Yardley district was inaugurated when the Edgbaston, Moseley and Shirley horse omnibus service was replaced by a new motor omnibus service starting from New Street, Birmingham, and proceeding via Five Ways, Edgbaston, Moseley and the Stratford Road, to Monkspath (George & Dragon). Open top double-deck buses of Tilling-Stevens manufacture were used, and about the same time similar vehicles came into use on the Sunday trips to Earlswood and Stonebridge. A start was also made with the development of the new type of service permitted by the agreement, with a service from Birmingham to Walsall, commenced on 24th December, 1913. On 28th February, 1914, a service from Birmingham to Coventry, through Yardley, was inaugurated.

 

On Whit Sunday, 31st May, 1914, the tramway extension along the Stratford Road to Fox Hollies Road was opened and the Shirley motor bus services curtailed at College Road, so as noty to compete with the trams. However, from 2nd June, Shirley and Monkspath passengers were catered for by a new BMMO motor omnibus service from Birmingham direct along the Stratford Road, with no local fares over the tram route. On 20th June, 1914, this service was extended to Hockley Heath and Stratford-upon-Avon, and a daily service was provided to Earlswood instead of on Sundays only.

 

A new BMMO service along the Warwick Road was commenced on 20th June, 1914, between Birmingham (Bull Ring) and Knowle, and this was extended to Warwick and Leamington on 5th September, 1914. These basic routes along the main roads through Yardley are still maintained and a number of additional services have been superimposed over the same roads from time to time.

 

As soon as the tramway extension on the Stratford Road had been completed, work was commenced on the new line along the Warwick Road. Owing to wartime difficulties, with acute staff shortages, rising costs and lack of materials, the work took much longer than anticipated, but on 2nd February, 1916, a service was commenced as far as Broad Road. Beyond this point, owing to unforeseen circumstances in connection with road widening, only a single line had been laid instead of a double line, as authorised. This was pointed out by the frontagers, and the Corporation were unable to run through to Acocks Green Village until 9th October, 1922, after the Birmingham Corporation Act, 1922, had authorised the single line.

 

One result of wartime conditions was the introduction of service numbers on the tramcars, as reduced wartime lighting made it impossible for the destination boards and route letters previously used to be seen at night. The Coventry Road services were numbered 13 to 16 and the Stratford Road 17 to 21, the original allocation (1 to 43) being extended from time to time as new services were commenced. The new Acocks Green route became 44, journeys to Hay Mills, on the Coventry Road, 56 and 57, and short workings to Tyseley, on the Warwick Road, 91.

 

The tramway system in the Yardley district was completed by the extension from 2nd April, 1928, on reserved track in the centre of a dual carriageway road, of the Stratford road route to the new city boundary (Services 17 and 18, with short workings 82 and 83 to Fox Hollies road), while the Bordesley Green route was extended beyond the old city boundary to Stuarts Road, Stechford (Services 84 and 90), along a completely new road on which the tramway was built at the same time as the highway proper, from 26th August, 1928.

 

Corporation Buses

The first Birmingham Corporation motor bus service to enter the Yardley district was inaugurated on 1Sth January, 1923, between Erdington and Acocks Green, via Stechford and Yardley (Service 11) , using small one man operated single-deckers. The route was extended from Acocks Green to Moseley, via Shaftmoor Lane and College Road, on 5th November, 1923, and finally, on 7th April, 1926 diverted from Moseley and altered to form the present Outer Circle At the same time, the section between Acocks Green and Moseley was added to the Moseley, via Edgbaston, route (Service 1). The traffic grew so quickly that double deck buses were soon required and, as a temporary measure, some old London buses were hired for several months.

 

The Inner Circle route also just touches the district of Yardley at Walford Road. This commenced with a single-deck service between Saltley and the Stratford Road on 17th February, 1926, which was extended to Hockley on 16th August, 1926, and, finally, the Circle was completed on 8th August, 1928. Double deck vehicles were introduced on 13th October, 1926.

 

After the war, a number of new housing estates were laid out, one of the first being at Billesley, fronting the Yardley Wood Road. Consideration was given both to the extension of the Stoney Lane tramway and the introduction of trolleybuses, but eventually, on 5th November, 1923, a service of single deck motor buses was established between Stratford Road (Stoney Lane) and Bromwall Road (Service 13). This was extended to run through to the centre of Birmingham, via Showell Green Lane instead of Stoney Lane, using double deck buses, from 1st October, 1925, and, at the outer end, to Haunch Lane on 5th September, 1927; and to Priory Road on 5th June, 1929. An additional service, to Warstock (Service 24), was commenced on 19th November, 1930, and diverted from Pendeen Road and Cleeve Road on to a rebuilt section of Yardley Wood Road on 19th December, 1937. For a very short time, from 8th February to 9th September, 1939, there was also a service between the city and Springfield Road/Billesley Lane, via Yardley Wood Road, Wake Green Road and Billesley Lane (Service 13B).

 

A similar single deck service was commenced on 15th December, 1924, between Coventry Road (Green Lane) and Stechford, via Yardley Green Road (Service 15). The route was cut back to Newbridge Road on the extension of the tramways to Stechford, but extended again to Church Road, Yardley, via Hobmoor Road, on 10th September, 1928. On 5th June, 1929, the service was extended both to Barrows Lane (Service 15A) and through to the city centre, where it was linked with a route to Handsworth Wood (Service 16), to form a cross-city service, double deckers being used throughout. An additional service between the city centre and Garretts Green Lane (Service 15B) was superimposed on 23rd November, 1938, but this did not run through to Handsworth Wood.

 

A further cross-city service, between Highfield Road, Hall Green, and Kingstanding, was commenced on 6th February, 1928. On 4th November, 1934, the route through the city centre was altered to run via the Bull Ring, but journeys by the old route, via Hill Street, were found necessary at peak hours and these were restored on 17th December, 1934 (Service 25). A variation of the route, commencing at Baldwins Lane and reaching the Stratford Road via Springfield Road (Service 29A) was introduced on 1st January, 1936.

 

To serve the first section of the Gospel Farm Estate, a service from the city centre to Olton, via Shaftmoor Lane (Service 30), was commenced on 1st November, 1928, being extended tp Nailstone Crescent, via Gospel Lane (Service 31), on 24th September, 1930. On 1st January, 1936, the route was extended back to the city via Lakey Lane to form a loop. Buses also ran in the reverse direction, out via Lakey Lane and back via Shaftmoor Lane (service 32).

 

The extreme southern suburbs of the city were linked up on 19th November, 1930, when an existing service between Northfield and Kings Norton (Service 18) was extended to Yardley Wood Road (Haunch Lane) on the fringe of the district of Yardley.

 

Yet another single deck service was commenced on 13th December, 1933, between Alum Rock and Stud Lane (Service 14), to tap the Glebe Farm Estate. The route was extended to Swancote Road on 11th April, 1934, and, like its predecessors, ran through to the city centre, with double deck buses, from 13th October, 1937.

 

The Silent Ones

The tramway track along the Coventry Road was now in need of renewal and it was resolved to convert the Yardley tram route to trolleybus operation. Fifty new six-wheeled double deck vehicles were obtained and the changeover took place on 7th January, 1934 Services 92 and 93). An extension to the city boundary at Sheldon  (Arden Oak Road)  (Service 94) was opened on 5th July, 1936, replacing journeys which had been operated by BMMO motor buses under an agreement with the Corporation dated 1st April, 1931, following the inclusion of Sheldon within the City.

 

However, when the Stratford Road and Warwick Road tramway tracks became worked out, it was decided to replace these tram routes by motor buses. This was mainly because there were already seven Corporation bus services along the Stratford Road, but, also, with the use of diesel instead of petrol engines, the running costs of motor buses were now at least comparable with those of trolleybuses. Accordingly, on 6th January, 1937, motor buses (Services 37 and 46) replaced the trams  (Services 17 and 18) to Hall Green, while motor bus service 44 replaced the tram service of the same number to Acocks Green, though, in this case, the route was extended to Olton Boulevard East, a further extension, to Lincoln Road North, being opened on 2nd April, 1939. The Stoney Lane tramway (Service 4) was covered by diverting the Yardley Wood Road bus service (13) back to its original route, via Stoney Lane.

 

Just before the Stratford Road changeover, a new motor bus service was commenced from Birmingham to Stechford  (Service 36), by a somewhat roundabout route serving the Tyseley Estate. To house the motor buses required for all these extensions, new garages were opened in the Yardley district, at Acocks Green on 19th June, 1928, and at Yardley Wood on 9th November, 1938.

 

On the outbreak of war in 1939, there were a number of service curtailments, the majority of which were sooner or later restored. However, on 25th September, 1939, the Yardley Wood Road service (13) was rerouted via Trittiford Road, and this more direct route was retained permanently. On 5th October, 1942, the section of the peak hour service 25 between the city and Hall Green was discontinued, never to be restored. A wartime development resulted from the opening of a new munitions factory in Lode Lane, Solihull. Due to its proximity to the Coventry Road, the Minister of War Transport authorised a short trolleybus extension (Service 96) as the most economical method of catering for the traffic. This was opened on 29th October, 1941, and a regular service was maintained in addition to the works journeys.

 

Night services were introduced on a number of routes on 15th April, 1946, including those to Lea Village (NS.14); Hall Green (NS.37); Acocks Green (Olton Boulevard East) (NS.44); and Sheldon (Wagon Lane) (NS.94A). The Sheldon night service was renumbered NS.58 on the replacement of the trolleybuses by motor buses and the Lea Village route was extended to Tile Cross Road on 14th August, 1955.

 

The War Over

After the war the process of tramway replacement continued, the remaining tramway routes serving the Yardley district, to Stechford (Services 84 and 90) being replaced by buses (Services 54 and 53) on 3rd October, 1948. Birmingham Corporation had now resolved to concentrate on motor buses exclusively and, on 1st July, 1951, it was the turn of the Yardley trolleybuses to go also. The route to Sheldon (94) was replaced exactly by motor buses (Service 58), while a new route to Cranes Park Road  Service 60) was introduced. The Lode Lane trolleybus service (96) was replaced by BMMO buses, in view of the fact that its outer terminus lay in the district of Solihull.

 

The next housing developments were concentrated mainly in the northern part of Yardley and the adjoining district of Sheldon. As a result, motor bus extensions were opened to Sheldon Heath Road (15B) on 23rd January, 1949; to Whittington Oval (15A) on 20th March, 1949; to Tile Cross (Haywood Road) (14) on 29th May, 1949; to Tile Cross Road (14) on 14th August, 1955; to Meadway (17 - renumbered from 15B) on 7th December, 1958; and to Gossey Lane, via Meadway (53) on 27th February, 1966. On 5th February, 1967, part of the Tile Cross service (14) was diverted to a new terminus at Shirestone Road (Service 23), but these journeys were discontinued after 11th November, 1967, and the service along Meadway (53), which had been curtailed at Garretts Green Lane for safety reasons on 25th July, 1967, was extended to Shirestone Road in its place. A new facility, in the shape of a "limited stop" service between Birmingham and Tile Cross Estate, was introduced on 16th February, 1959, but this was discontinued after 15th May, 1959, largely because, due to the traffic congestion at peak hours, when the service was run, the "express" vehicles were, in practice, very little faster than the ordinary stopping buses. To accommodate the extra vehicles required for these extensions, a further new garage was opened at Lea Hall on 17th April, 1955.

 

Changes during this period to other routes serving the Yardley district included the extension of the Yardley Wood Road route (13) to Ravenshill Road on 8th May, 1949, and the diversion of part of the same service to a new terminus at Slade Lane (Service 38) on 6th November, 1966. The Stechford, via Tyseley, service (36) was curtailed to operate only between Stechford and Stratford Road (Stoney Lane) from 21st September, 1958, and on 29th November, 1964, the service numbers on the Hall Green to Kingstanding cross-city routes were revised to avoid confusion, 29A becoming 90 northwards and 91 southwards, while 29 became 30 northwards and retained its old number southwards.

 

Mention must also be made of the local services developed by the BMMO company based on Acocks Green and Yardley, which run, for the most part, just outside the southern boundary of the city of Birmingham. On 30th May, 1938, services were commenced from Acocks Green both to Wythall, via Shirley (173), and to Yardley (Swan), via Lyndon Road (174). These were discontinued for the war period after 23rd September, 1939, but resumed on 11th March, 1946 (as Services 172 and 173). Meanwhile, a further service between Acocks Green and Sheldon, through the Ideal Estate (174) was commenced on 1st April, 1941.

 

The BMMO company are also responsible for transport between Birmingham and Chelmsley Wood. Their first service to the new town (163), commenced on 4th November, 1967, ran through Yardley over roads which had not previously carried a BMMO service, from Coventry Road, via Cattell Road, Bordesley Green and Meadway. On 6th December, 1969, another new service (171) was routed from the Coventry Road at Yardley via Rowlands Road, Moat Lane, Barrows Lane and Garretts Green Lane, to Meadway. However, as all the Chelmsley Wood services are restricted as to picking up and setting down within the city boundary, they can hardly be said to contribute greatly to the local transport needs of Yardley.

 

Coming up-to-date

On 1st October, 1969, the Birmingham City Transport undertaking became the South Division of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, but, so far, no sweeping changes have taken place in the transport services of the Yardley district. One man operation is being gradually extended for reasons of economy, and, under Birmingham City Transport auspices, Service 36 to Stechford was converted on 8th October, 1967, followed by Services 1 and 44 to Acocks Green on Sundays only from 12th November, 1967. Since the Executive took over, Service 18 (Northfield to Yardley Wood) was converted on 30th November, 1969, and the Sunday one man operation to Acocks Green on Service 1 only became daily from 7th June, 1971. The Tile Cross service (14) became one man operated as recently as 27th February, 1972, but so far, none of the main trunk routes through Yardley have been converted. However, one change of some importance took place on 28th February, 1971 when the Hall Green services were reorganised. The route between Baldwins Lane and Kingstanding (90/91) remained unchanged, but the Highfield Road to Kingstanding route (29/30) was discontinued and, in its place, the service from Hall Green (City Boundary) to the centre (37) was extended through to Kingstanding as 90 northwards (so that all journeys to Kingstanding bear this number) and 92 southwards. The section of route along Highfield Road, left unserved, was covered by a new one man operated feeder service on weekdays only between Yardley Wood Station and the College Arms (29). This has since been reduced still further and reverted to two man operation from 17th January, 1972.

 

The majority of the BMMO services through Yardley are now also one man operated, and a recent alteration has been the withdrawal of the route between Yardley and Acocks Green, via Lyndon Road (173), and its replacement in part by a new service between Stratford Road (Robin Hood Island) and Wells Green (Marcot Road) via Streetsbrook Road and Solihull (S.57) from 15th April, 1972. The only portion of the route in the old district of Yardley, along Solihull Lane to Streetsbrook Road, had, however, been covered by BMMO services to Solihull and beyond since 10th April,1933.

 

No mention has been made of the long distance motor coach services, as it is felt that they are not really relevant to the story of transport in Yardley. Nevertheless, these were developed from about 1926 onwards and now link Yardley with all parts of the country, either direct or by connections. From the commencement there have always been recognised stopping places in the Yardley district, at Hay Mills Bridge; Yardley (Swan); Sparkhill (Mermaid); Sparkhill (College Arms); Hall Green (School Road); Hall Green (Robin Hood); and Acocks Green. This then is a very brief summary of road passenger transport in Yardley to date. Who knows what changes the future may bring? 

 

Introduction

A transport history of Yardley, by P. L. Hardy

The history of the Birmingham and Warwick Canal 1793 to1972, by John Morris Jones

A short survey of railways in the Manor of Yardley, by Anthony John Lambert

           

   


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