One of the most well known and respected residents of Great Witley during the early and mid twentieth century was Mr Arthur Moore.
Mr Moore’s family originally came from Stanford Bridge. Arthur was married to Miss Amy Mills who lived at the Manor Public House in the neighbouring parish of Abberley in 1916.
Mr and Mrs Moore had four children, Terry, Richard, Cherry and Irene.
It is understood that Mr Moore ran his company Teme Valley Motor Services from a property known as ‘The Jaylands’ in the neighbouring village of Abberley prior to his move to Great Witley in 1924.
This undated photograph is believed to be of Mr Moore’s first motor omnibus. The location is not known but appears to be outside the gates of a public park, possibly in Worcester.
After the Witley Court Sale in 1920 he paid £600 for the house now known as The Laurels, next to the Great Witley Post Office in Worcester Road and opened The Central Garage in 1924 on land adjoining his house.
A recently discovered letter head dating from 1928 shows us that Mr Moore was a member of The Motor Trades Association and was the sole district agent for all types of Thorneycroft Goods and Passenger Vehicles.
In addition to stocking tyres of all standard sizes Central Garage could supply Lubricating oils for Tractors and Commercial Vehicles claiming the lowest prices in the trade.
Arthur Moore is perhaps best remembered for his fleet of coaches.
In 1928 his letterhead proclaimed Central Garage to be ‘The Pioneer Motor Services in the District’ with Motor Omnibuses, Char-a-banc’s and cars available for hire with Summer Trips a Speciality.
During the1920’s Arthur Moore bought four Lancia chassis with floating axles. They were 6 wheelers with bodywork built by Rees & Griffiths of Tan Lane, Stourport on Severn. A Lancia based ‘Glider’ is seen here in new condition in Vale Road, Stourport in the days when Vale Road carried two-way traffic.
In the 1930s to meet the increasing demand for coach transport, Mr Moore ventured into building coach body work to his own design.
In October 1931 the well known vehicle builder A.J.Stevens (also known as AJS of motorcycle fame) of Lower Walsall Street Wolverhampton went bankrupt and ceased building commercial vehicles. Records indicate that Mr Moore purchased sufficient component parts from the AJS creditors to build three AJS based chassis onto which Arthur Moore constructed his own bodywork. The coaches were known as Gliders and were registered as with Worcestershire County Council receiving registration marks DAB 341, EWP476 and GWP 20.
Mr Moore provided transport for Great Witley School for many years. In 1921 he provided free transport for school trips to the pantomime at The Theatre Royal in Worcester. During the late 1920s and 1930s pupils were taken by coach to a training centre in Rock to learn handicrafts and cookery.
Many ex-Great Witley school pupils from the 1930s to 1960s era will recall the annual school day trips to such exotic places as Rhyl, Barry Island or Tenby with the coaches often driven by George Jones, Bernard Baldwin or Mr Moore’s sons Richard and Terry.
A recently discovered fleet list shows a total of 37 different coaches were operated by Arthur Moore between 1914 and the early 1970s when Central Garage ceased coach operations.
The following photographs give us a snap shot of the variety of makes models and styles of luxury coaches operated.
Driver Bernard Baldwin stands proudly by his AJS coach DAB 341 whose bodywork was designed and built by Arthur Moore in 1939. The same coach is shown below photographed at Baginton Airport in Coventry (later Coventry Airport) during the early 1950’s attending an air day event.
This Leyland KAB 59 on the left was purchased by Arthur Moore in June 1951.
Leyland GMW 811 of 1950 vintage on the right is pictured on the Hundred House car park at Great Witley in 1965.
Further details and photographs can be found on our Great Witley Filling Station page.
In less prosperous times AJS coach HWP 569 and the 1937 Leyland DNA 591 shown in the two photos below await their appointments with the scrap man in the orchard of Bank Farm Little Witley in the late 1960s.
At the end of its passenger carrying days this 1947 AEC half cab coach was converted during the early 1960s into a boat transporter by Mr Moore’s son Terry.
Two AEC and a Bedford of the Arthur Moore and Sons coach fleet are seen here on the Hundred House car park in the late 1960s. This picture was taken by Martin Perry on the day that Morris’s of Bromyard collected the coaches after their takeover of Moores school bus contracts.
When Terry and Richard took over the business in the 1950’s they no longer built the coaches, but continued to operate school services until the early 1970s.
Judy Henshaw (nee Fortey) who lived next door to Central Garage recalls getting into trouble as a child with Mr Moore’s drivers. ‘’In the late 40’s my brother John & I often went into our attic with his air rifle and shot at the busses parked next door. The pellet made a loud ping as it struck to roof of the parked coaches and one of the workers often George Jones or Bernard Baldwin would come round to the Post Office to tell Mom what was going on. She would say “oh no the children are out” but finally we were caught.
I also recall that when there was a new apprentice at the garage, the old hands sent him to the shop for glass nails, sky hooks or a long weight.’’ (A practical joke probably familiar to many who have served an engineering apprenticeship)
After the Second World War Arthur Moore and Son’s became agents for Volkswagen cars, quite a risk at that time due to people’s attitude towards anything German. Later they were also became agents for Swedish manufacturer Saab.
(More period photographs can be found by visiting our Central Garage page)
When Arthur retired he spent a great deal of time working for the Parish Church which was in a poor state before Mr W.A.M Edwards obtained large grants from Historic Churches Preservation Society etc. Mr Arthur Moore died in April 1977.
The Central Garage as seen from the air in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
In the 1950s two well known local transport pioneer families were joined when Richard Moore married Hazel Owen whose family operated P Owen and Sons garage and coach business in neighbouring Abberley. Photographed outside Great Witley parish Church are (L to R) Mr and Mrs Arthur Moore, sons Terry and Richard Moore, Hazel Owen, Mrs Ivy Owen and Mr Howard Owen.
A 1960 interview with Arthur Moore was recently published in Classic Bus magazine and can be read here.
In 1983 Arthur Moore and Sons Central Garage Great Witley ceased trading bringing to a close almost sixty years of service to both motorists and coach travellers of Great Witley and the surrounding area.
The site was sold and the James Design furniture business ran there for a few years before the site was developed for housing.