ON THE BUSES

The earliest method of regular local transport would have been a stagecoach from the Cross-Hands Inn in the 1700s.

Electric trams from the town centre never reached the Hesters Way area. The first bus service reached the new St Marks estate in 1923. The operating company was 'Red and White' of Chepstow from 1939 until nationalisation regulations in 1950 put operations in the hands of 'Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company'. Older readers may recall the enamel bus stop signs stating 'local buses stop here', replaced in 1959. Closely following deregulation in 1986, most town buses were replaced by metro minibuses, soon afterwards acquired by 'Stagecoach'.

Essentially three routes have operated within our area:-

1: Coronation Square - Tennyson Road - Gloucester Road - St George's Road - Town Centre - London Road - Lyfield Road - Bradley Road (Charlton Kings).

This was Route No. 2, from 1923 reaching as far as Tennyson Road. It was complemented by Route No. 4 from 1933, which reached town via Queens Road and continued to Ryeworth Road in Charlton Kings. By 1941 this was extended sometimes to Arle Court for the benefit of Dowty workers. The service first reached Coronation Square in 1961. By 1972 these routes were renumbered 588 and 589 on the county system. By 1985 they were numbered 90 and 90A, and there was a limited service to Gloucester from Coronation Square. The nearest modern Route J does not reach the Hesters Way area, but continues from St Marks to Benhall.

2: Hesters Way Road - Village Road - Tewkesbury Road - Lower High Street - Town Centre - Pittville Gates - Whaddon Road - Priors Road (Oakley) - Lynworth Exchange.

The above was Route No. 5 from 1962. It was renumbered by 1972 as No. 594 starting from Springbank Road and No. 595 from Coronation Square. These were renumbered again as 94 and 94A until 1986. Then Metro Route C took over the section of the route from Fiddlers Green to the town, taking in Springbank Way.

3: Coronation Square - Orchard Way - Arle Road - St George's Road - Town Centre - Bath Road - Leckhampton.

This was Route No. 5 from the mid-1930s, terminating then at the junction of Arle Road and Brooklyn Road, and extending to Sandy Lane in Charlton Kings. In 1953, Route No. 3 from Leckhampton Road to the Town Centre was extended via Lower High Street to Princess Elizabeth Way.

During the war, fourteen London buses had been brought to Cheltenham to provide a link between War Office buildings at Benhall and at Oakley (via the Queens Hotel). The buses returned to London in 1945. This appears to be the inspiration for the above routes which, as Hesters Way developed around 1952/1953, apparently terminated first at the Umbrella Inn and later at Lechmere Road for the benefit of GCHQ workers.

In 1962 Routes 5 and 3 became Routes 3 and 3A respectively, both to Coronation Square. By 1972 these had been renumbered 590 and 591. After deregulation in 1986, only one daily service remained in Cheltenham with a numbered route and not using minibuses. This is the No. 2, which still operates the above route from Coronation Square to the Town Centre, and then picks up the Lynworth route described previously. It was recently renamed Route A and extended to Benhall roundabout.

Acknowledgement: 'Cheltenham's Trams and Buses Remembered' by John B. Appelby, 1972.

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