There was a lot of competition for traffic from Bedlinog in the early days of bus operation with services being provided by Commercial Motor Services (CMS) of Treharris, Gellygaer Urban District Council (as it was called then) and Imperial of Abercynon.
Pontypridd come into the picture with the takeover of CMS, in conjunction with Gellygaer, West Mon and Caerphilly in 1945. At this stage there was a Gellygaer service from Bargoed to Bedlinog, whilst the service from Pontypridd through Nelson to Bedlinog (the subject of this gallery) was now worked jointly by Red & White and the former CMS service partners. The CMS partners only worked alternate journeys and even then only on alternate weeks.
From 7th February 1954 there was some reorganisation of the CMS services in that the Blackwood service ceased to run through Treharris and an additional service was run to Bedlinog (Hylton Terrace) via Treharris. On the original direct route via Nelson the service ran every two hours, co-ordinated with the Gelligaer (as it was called from 1953) service from Bargoed to Bedlinog.
The new service via Treharris was hourly, jointly worked by Red & White and the CMS partners, with the latter’s journeys also serving Taff Merthyr Garden Village. On Saturdays a supplementary service was provided to Treharris giving a 20 minute frequency on that section, the two buses required being one each Red & White and CMS partner. In practice it seems that Gelligaer worked the Bedlinog workings and Pontypridd worked the Saturday extras to Treharris, but it is possible that Pontypridd worked to Bedlinog on Sundays at some stage but no photographs have been found to confirm this and Gelligaer certainly worked the service on Sundays in the late sixties.
By the 1960s the Saturday service to Treharris was reduced to every 30 mins. As this only required one supplementary bus it ended up being provided by Red & White and Pontypridd on alternate weeks. Around the same time Red & White renumbered the services which had previously been 82 direct through Nelson and 81 via Treharris. The numbers were not displayed on vehicles as there was no facility to do so until the first standard Tilling vehicles appeared in the fleet. The new services were renumbered 184 direct and 185 via Treharris and by this time the 184 served George Street at the top of Bedlinog whilst the 185 went to Hylton Terrace, remaining at the bottom of the valley.
Pontypridd’s operation of the service ceased in August 1968 and it is likely that the extra Saturday journeys to Treharris ceased at the same time. During the 1970s the service gradually reduced, with the 184 not running on Sundays by the mid-seventies and 185 journeys alternating between George Street and Hylton Terrace. Rhymney Valley, as successor to Gelligaer, worked the journeys to George Street as they had always done and by this stage usually showed the route number as later vehicles were fitted with three-digit number blinds. At the same period service 184 started to be shown as operating via Taff Merthyr Garden Village, later called Maen Gilfach.
Around 1977/78 Rhymney Valley ceased operation to Bedlinog and some changes took place to the services. The 184 was diverted via Treharris and Pentwyn to Nelson and the journeys between Nelson and Bedlinog on the service from Bargoed were replaced by new service 177 from Merthyr to Bedlinog, which was co-ordinated with the 184 between Treharris and Bedlinog. Maen Gilfach was only served by journeys on the 177 but was also now served by the 185. On Sundays the 185 ran Pontypridd to Hylton Terrace, then to George Street before returning to Pontypridd.
Services changed again from 3rd July 1978 with the 184 returning to its original route and serving Maen Gilfach but travelling in Bedlinog via George Street then Hilton Terrace. It still didn’t operate on Sundays. The 185 was slightly re-timed but otherwise unchanged apart from not serving Maen Gilfach apart from on Sundays.
The service then stabilised through the era of the Market Analysis Project (MAP) which saw National Welsh (into which Red & White was subsumed in 1978) introduce the “Cynon-Dare” local identity for services operated from Aberdare. Services reduced by April 1984 when the main service was the direct 184, the only service through Treharris from Pontypridd being a new 188 which only ran once on weekdays and four trips on a Saturday. This travelled between Nelson and Treharris via Quaker’s Yard and Fiddler’s Elbow.
The 188 service had gone by March 1986 but was replaced on Sundays only by a very unusual single working from Merthyr to Bedlinog via Nelson, returning to Nelson, the unusual feature being that it was worked by Merthyr Borough Transport.
Around the time of deregulation the service from Bedlinog was truncated to Nelson and hence no longer served Pontypridd.
© David Beilby