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Bedwas & Machen U.D.C.


1922 - 1974

Bedwas and Machen U.D.C. which was once the smallest municipal bus operator in Britain started operations in 1922


Bedwas and Machen where two typical valley mining villages in Monmouthshire, which until Local Government re-organisation in 1974, were technically in England !  Bedwas could be easily described as being part of Caerphilly as the two were seperated by the River Rhymney and a few hundred yards only.


The first route was operated by two Straker-Squire single-deckers which between Caerphilly and Trethomas on 12 January 1922. In March Caerphilly UDC joined in on this route making it a jointly operated service. The Straker-Squires were joined in 1923 by a Karrier and one year later by another Straker-Squire.


According to archive records, a profit of two hundred and ninety five pounds was made in year one and almost 200,000 passengers were carried. Over the following forty years that annual figure rose steadily peaking in 1964 at just over one millions passengers.


A fleet livery of powder blue and white was chosen for all new vehicles and although the white later became cream the basic colours remained unchanged throughout the life of the undertaking.


In the early years, control of the undertaking fell to the council´s Engineer and surveyors dept. and this situatrion remained until 1950 when Mr. G. Coleman, was appointed General Manager


In 1930, the Caerphilly UDC share of the route from Caerphilly to Trethomas passed to Western Welsh with whom Bedwas and Machen had hoped to run jointly. However, for some reason, the newly created Traffic Commissioners refused the application, and the route was run separately by each concern until 1954, when consent to run jointly was given. During th 1940´s the fleet size was reduced to three vehicles and made Bedwas and Machen the smallest municipal fleet in Britain.


In 1943 the entire three-vehicle fleet was destroyed by a fire at the garage and services had to be maintained by Caerphilly UDC until May 1943, when a fleet of three new Bedford OWB's utility buses resumed the service, joined one year later by a fourth.


Prior to 1947 the fleet had consisted of single-deck vehicles, but in November of that year the first double-deck vehicles, a pair of 17 year old  ex-Wigan Corporation Leyland TD1's, were acquired.  Throughout the 1950's, the area became a favourite with commuters working in nearby Newport and Cardiff, but there was no major change to the Trethomas bus service until 1967, when it was extended to Bargoed, jointly with Western Welsh.


In the late 1960's the development of the new Graig-y-Rhacca housing estate between Bedwas and Machen resulted in the council starting a second route from Caerphilly to Graig-y-Rhacca via Hillside Terrace, Bedwas. This was known locally as the 'back route'. A further service from Graig-y-Rhacca to the Pantglas Industrial Estate in Bedwas was introduced in 1971.

In August 1968, a joint service with Western Welsh, Red & White and Gelligaer UDC between Rhymney Bridge and Newport was inaugurated. A notable addition to the fleet in this year was PAX466F, a  Leyland PD3/4  with Massey L35/33RD. This was the last exposed radiator bus to enter service in South Wales and the last sunken side-gangway lowbridge bus built in Britain.

On the 1st April 1974, under Local Government re-organisation, Bedwas and Machen became part of the Rhymney Valley District Council in the new Welsh County of Gwent. The fleet was subsequently merged with the fleets of the neighbouring municipalities of Caerphilly and Gelligaer UDC's to form the Rhymney Valley District Council fleet, thus marking the end of over 50 years of Bedwas and Machen UDC Omnibus Department.



Bedwas & Machen 6 (PAX466F), a Leyland PD3/4 which was new June 1968 and has a Wigan built -Massey L35/33RD .


©2005 David Griffiths