YEOMANS buses have long been a sight in Herefordshire, and many Herefordians have passed through the company's doors over the years.

The business started life as a small family firm in the 1920s, when Canon Pyon man Herbert Yeomans started carrying passengers into Hereford for the Wednesday market in his cider lorry. 

By 1931, the operation had expanded, and the business was running 19 stage carriages.

Hereford Times: The Yeomans fleet in 1935The Yeomans fleet in 1935 (Image: Hereford Times archive)

But an enormous challenge came along in the late 1930s, when the business was called upon by the military to transport thousands of men around the county.

"The whole area was a vast military base, with a huge demand for transportation of local labour, much of it from outlying villages, and after the reopening of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Rotherwas in 1939 and RAF Credenhill in 1940, much of it fell on Yeomans Motors, Herbert "Curly" Vaughan, a nephew of the founder, told the Hereford Times in 1993.

Hereford Times: Yeomans staff reunion, 1983Yeomans staff reunion, 1983 (Image: Hereford Times)

The business found itself having to transport up to 7,000 men at various times in an almost constant service to the city for rest and relaxation.

The situation was unprecedented, and with fuel shortages and the inadequacies of the existing fleet, new buses had to be sourced.

A fleet of second-hand buses was obtained from across the country, overhauled, and put back on the roads.

Skilled drivers were at a premium, but the company managed to scrape together enough to put 15 buses into service by 1941.

The company's buses were painted in grey camouflage, while services expanded to cover more parts of Herefordshire.

Mr Vaughan was a key part of the bid to source more buses, bring them to Herefordshire, and get them back on the roads.

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"Miracles of maintenance were commonplace, not helped by the bureaucratic intrusion of the government inspectors imposing impossible standards," he said in 1993.

Mr Vaughan was also pressed into service as a driver, and well remembered driving a double decker back to Herefordshire from Scotland and putting it into use on the Credenhill run.

"I thought there seemed to be quite a heavy load, and the conductress told me there were around 100 servicemen "strap-hanging" on board," he said.

"This became quite normal at peak times!"

Hereford Times: Philip Clisset of Vincent Greenhous and Yeomans general manager Don Preece in 1983Philip Clisset of Vincent Greenhous and Yeomans general manager Don Preece in 1983 (Image: Hereford Times)

By the end of the war, the company had 54 vehicles of various types and ages in service, including Leylands, Bedfords, and AECs, Yeomans is still running today, now operating both bus services and coach travel.