AFTER 18 years of providing transport for pupils from Redditch to Studley, the owner of a historic Worcestershire coach company has decided to retire and close the firm.

Chris Dudley made the “difficult decision” to retire and “bow out gracefully” after over 50 years in the business.

Dudley’s Coaches was based in Radford, near Inkberrow, and closed for good earlier this month.

In 1938, Chris’s father Ernie Dudley, opened a garage in Worcestershire selling fuel and repairing agricultural vehicles.

Chris left school in 1968 and joined the family business, by which time coach operation was a significant part of the company business.

By the late 1980’s Dudley’s stopped selling fuel and concentrated solely on transportation.

In 2002, the firm was approached by Worcestershire County Council to run a commercial bus service from Redditch to Studley High School.

The S85 service that has been transporting Studley High pupils to and from school for 18 years and will made its final journey at the end of the term.

Chris said: “The current crisis has had a detrimental effect on the business and with significant changes to legislation regarding vehicle access rights, requiring substantial investment.

“I made the difficult decision to retire.

“I am fast approaching 70, so it is time to bow out gracefully.”

Chris is now set on travelling around the world once the country returns to some normality.

The Studley High School to Redditch school bus service will be taken over by Johnson’s of Henley in the new year.

Lee Gray, CEO Shires Multi Academy Trust, said: “Dudley’s have been an essential part of our school community.

“For 18 years they have ensured that students are able to access our school provision.

“They have continually worked with the school which has been incredibly difficult in these last months.

“Chris and his team are utter professionals who have always had the welfare of the children at the centre of what they do.

“We offer them our thanks and best wishes.”