Harding's coaches

Harding's International Coaches started life almost 80 years ago when Ernest Harding, maternal grandfather of John Dyson, brought a sharabang along with his friend Arthur Chinn. They provided a regular service from Redditch to Longbridge for British Leyland (formally the Austin) workers and operated from the original family home in Crabbs Cross - and so it all began -expanding over the years to include Tanners Croft Garage and Workshops with the Offices based in the family home. The business of today (legally known at Tanners Croft Garage Ltd) has very much been created by the purchase and or merging with other coach operators in the area. These businesses included; Dyson Minihire; Everton Coaches of Droitwich in 1983 and Dale Hire of Astwood Bank in February 1997. As well as running a small number of bus services Harding's Coaches specialise in contract continental holidays which means a number of their vehicles carry the liveries of the holiday provider. The Company relocated from the Tanner's Croft site in Crabbs Cross to a purpose built operating centre on a 3-acre plot in Oxleasow Road on the Moans Moat Industrial Estate in Redditch from 1st November 2005. Contractors quickly moved in in early November 2005 to flatten the whole of the former Tanners Croft Garage to make way for the inevitable apartments and houses that are built on many former industrial sites around the country. In 2008 day to day control of the business passed from John Dyson to fleet engineer Malcolm Chance and company accountant, Malcolm Plyford. John Dyson retained a financial interest in the Company and ownership of the new depot on the Moans Moat Industrial Estate.

Following a failure to financially restructure the business after the Company investors withdrew their money the legal entity Tanners Croft Garage Ltd, which traded as Harding’s International Coaches was put into administration on 1st July 2011. The company was unable to pay bills or wages resulting in the 65 staff employed being made redundant. M J Cowlishaw and D L Z Wong were appointed Joint Administrators with many coaches that were being used on holiday contracts having to return from the continent early. Most of the coaches were under mortgage to Barclays Bank who quickly proceed to remove them from the depot and sell them on. John Dyson had retained ownership of the Moans Moat Industrial Estate depot and so this does not form part of the company assets and therefore can not be sold by the Administrators. In a twist in early August 2011 the Dyson Brothers, John and Roger through their company Roger Dyson Group purchased the garage equipment, rights to use the Harding's Coaches name,  and a number of the former company's vehicles. To allow the coach company to start trading again the Roger Dyson Group formed a new company call Hardings Travel Ltd and have applied for a new operator's license in that company name. The intention being to continue to operate a number of continental coach holiday contracts.

The whole company operation re-located to Berry Hill Trading Estate in Droitwich.  In a separate move Hardings Travel have bought Regal Coach Travel of Oldbury from administration. The 3 coaches that were in that fleet were not purchased. The Regal operation moved to run from Droitwich. In January 2020 Hardings Travel cease trading and the business was put into voluntary liquidation. This ended the operation of  this long established company and the last of the original Redditch based coach firms of Renown Coaches, Regent Coaches and Royal Motorways. The latter still exists as a new incarnation following the demise of Dudley's Coaches who had owned the trading name since 1986.

The following services have been or are still operated by Harding’s Coaches since 26th October 1986

Following the purchase of Everton Coaches, Chapel Bridge, Droitwich who traded as Everton Roadliner Hardings gained a network of local bus services in an around Droitwich. Rather strangely the mighty Midland Red never operated much in the way of local services in Droitwich. It wasn’t until deregulation on the 26th October 1986 that Harding’s started to pull out of the town and Midland Red West started running local services. Initially Midland Red West used conventional buses but the services were soon integrated into the nearby Worcester Citibus minibus network especially after Harding's totally pulled out of bus work in the town on 26th January 1987. On 26th October 1986 Midland Red West took over the following services from Harding's: Holt Heath and Droitwich via Ombersley on Fridays only; Hanbury and Droitwich via Hanbury Wharf on Tuesday and Friday only and Cutnall Green and  Droitwich on Tuesdays only.

Droitwich - Oddingley/Earls Common - Tibberton - Crowle - Worcester - Mondays to Saturdays

The service had been operating under the old Road Service Licensing system and was registered as a local bus service 26th October 1986 – Midland Red West Had taken the peak hour service over in June 1986. Service withdrawn 26th January 1987 and taken over by Midland Red West

Droitwich - Earls Common - Stock Green - Himbleton - Crowle - Tibberton Worcester – Wednesdays and Saturdays only

The service had been operating under the old Road Service Licensing system and was registered as a local bus service 26th October 1986. Service withdrawn 26th January 1987 and taken over by Midland Red West

Worcester - Norton - Defford - Eckington – Tewkesbury - Mondays to Saturdays – This is now Easylink service 382

The service had been operating under the old Road Service Licensing system and was registered as a local bus service 26th October 1986. Service withdrawn on 26th January 1987 and taken over by Astons Coaches – This service is now the Easylink service 382

Service 176 Earlswood - Tanworth-in-Arden - Bransons Cross - Mappleborough Green – Redditch -Thursdays only

The service was introduced on 26th April 1990 - partially replacing the withdrawn Midland Red West service 176. It was withdrawn after operation on 27th September 1990.

Redditch Town - Longbridge Works – Subject to works requirements

Service had been operating under the old Road Service Licensing system and was registered as a local bus service 26th October 1986. Service withdrawn after 28th September 1990, being partially replaced by Kingfisher service 946 under contract to Hereford and Worcester County Council.

Service 147 Tanner Croft Garage, Crabbs Cross -  Alcester Schools via Dunnington, Bidford and Broom - Schooldays only and a Warwickshire County Council Contract

Service introduced on 25th September 1995.

Service 854 Kington (near Evesham) - Evesham College via Peopleton, Pinvin, Wyre Piddle, Charlton, Cropthorne, Fladbury, Rous Lench, Church Lench, Harvington and Norton - College Days only and is a Worcestershire County Council Contract

Service became a local bus service from 15th April 1996 and therefore is available to the general public

With the purchase of Dale Hire of Astwood Bank with effect from 1st February 1997 Hardings took over their entire local bus and contract work. The local bus services taken over were:

Service 75 Astwood Bank - High Street - Chestnut Road - Avenue Road- Gorsey Close - Avenue Road - Evesham Road - Retreat Street - Evesham Road - Redditch – Mondays to Fridays

Service 76 Redditch - Beoley Road West via Ipsley Street, Beoley Road West, Grange Road, St Georges Road – Mondays to Fridays

Service 150 Astwood Bank - Feckenham - Bradley Green - Hanbury - Woodgate - Stoke Works - Stoke Prior – Redditch – Wednesdays only

Service 153 Astwood Bank - Broom - Dunnington - Wheethly - Cookhill - New Inn - Sambourne – Redditch – Fridays only

Service 154 Astwood Bank - Holberrow Green - Stock Wood - Bradley Green - Feckenham - Ham Green - Elcocks Brook - Callow Hill – Redditch – Thursdays only

Service 186 Portway - Redditch via Earlswood Common, Tanworth-in-Arden – Fridays only

Using the Government’s new funding for rural bus services, Rural Bus Subsidy Grant, Warwickshire County Council used some of their money to enhance the Service 186 which was extended to start and finish in Solihull and run on a 5 days a week basis from 30th November 1998. Unfortunately, demand for the service did not materialise and it was reduced to three journeys in each direction from 21st February 2000.

Service 187 Mappleborough Green (Dog) – Oldberrow - Wootton Wawen – Ullenhall - Danzey Green - Tanworth-in-Arden - Redditch (Church Green West) – Tuesdays only

Service 50 Town Centre & Batchley & Service 63 Abbeydale & Town Centre

Following award of a contract by Worcestershire County Council Harding took over the operation of services 50 and 63 from First Midland on Monday 9th February 2004. Following re-tendering from 1st September 2008 these routes were withdrawn. Both services 50 and 63 are now operated by Diamond Bus under contract to Worcestershire County Council

Service 60 Town Centre & Matchborough West

Following re-tendering a new service 60 was introduced from 1st September 2008 to both cover the withdrawn service 63 but also re-instate a link to Matchborough West which had been withdrawn a number of years ago. service 60 is now operated by Diamond Bus under contract to Worcestershire County Council

Service 175 Wythall - Solihull via The Maypole - Mondays to Saturdays

Following the untimely death of George Cave the owner of Cave’s Bus Services of Solihull Lodge in June 1999, Hardings took over the Service 175 from Wythall to Solihull on an emergency contract from Worcestershire County Council. The first and last journeys were extended to and from Redditch. Harding’s ran the service until 20th February 2000 by which time the County Council had invited a more substantive contract which was won by Travel West Midlands. Following the withdrawal of the service by Travel West Midlands from 30th June 2003 Harding's regained the service under contract to Worcestershire County Council. Following retendering this service was taken over by Diamond Bus

Service 350 Redditch - Worcester via Inkberrow - Mondays to Saturdays

Working with the Health Authority Worcestershire County Council has introduced a new enhanced network of bus services linking the hospitals at Redditch, Worcester and Kidderminster. This follows the controversially down grading of the Kidderminster Hospital. As part of this network of services Worcestershire County Council were finally able to justify the improvement to service of the Service 350 between Redditch and Worcester via Inkberrow and the A442. Dudley’s Coaches have for many years provided journeys on the corridor mainly linked to school and college journeys. Since the demise of Rover Coaches on 29th January 1996 the company had provided the daytime shoppers journey from Redditch to Worcester. Rural Bus Subsidy had allowed this to be enhanced to 6 days a week. From 25th October 1998, using Rural Bus Subsidy and more recently in partnership with Health Authority a number of additional journeys have been introduced between Redditch and Worcester. Initially, Pete’s Travel operated these journeys but following re-tendering from 20th February 2000, Harding’s Coaches took these journeys over. From 3 September 2006 the Service 350 is rerouted in Worcester to serve County Hall and the Sixth Form College. Following re-tendering Centralconnect were successful in winning the contract for the operation of the service 350 from Monday 26th February 2007.

Service 143 Redditch - Bromsgrove - Mondays to Fridays

On 13 June 2005 First revised their service 143  to just run between Redditch and Catshill in Bromsgrove with the Catshill to Birmingham section being withdrawn. (A number of peak hour journeys are still extended to/from School Lane in Lickey End). To fill a gap in the new Service 143 timetable Hardings Coaches started operating a journey at 0756 from Redditch to Bromsgrove and 0827 from Bromsgrove to Redditch on Mondays to Fridays only. These journeys are under contract to Worcestershire County Council. From 12th June 2006 the 0615 journey on 143 from Lickey End to the Alexandra Hospital was taken over by Harding's from First. The current 0758 from Redditch and 0827 from Bromsgrove journeys operated by Harding's were withdrawn.