Harper Bros (Heath Hayes) Ltd
AEC Regal III
I do not have much information on Harper Bros but Heath Hayes is approximately 3kms east of Cannock, Staffordshire. If you have any information and would like to share it please leave a comment. From what I have come up with they were taken over by Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC) in September 1974, the depot at Heath Hayes was closed and the buses were moved to a new Midland Red depot at Cannock.
I am not sure who built the body for the above coach but if I had to guess Duple would be fairly high on the list. This style of body was called an half canopy as there was no roof over the bonnet and nearside mudguard as apposed to an half cab which did. The Harper Bros livery was a light grey green with white mudguards and in the case of this coach a white roof not sure if the white roof was standard for all the fleet.
Is there anybody who can explain the difference if there is one between Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO) and Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC). If you know please leave a comment.
You are spot on, TRE 251 has a Burlingham C33F body as had sister vehicle TRE 241. Both new in 1950. TRE 251 was scrapped in Nov 1968, TRE241 not traced. Harper Bros had 9 AEC double deck buses & 6 AEC coaches from 1930 to the mid 1960s. If anyone requires information on Harper Bros I will gladly try to answer any queries.
The Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co Ltd (BMMO) was established on 26 November 1904. BMMO was commonly known as Midland Red & used the fleet name Midland on its distinctive red buses. After losing Birmingham services to the new West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE) BMMO was renamed to the Midland Red Omnibus Co Ltd (MRO) on 29 March 1974. MRO lasted until 6 September 1981 when it was divided into six independent companies: Midland Red (North) etc. Enthusiasts can learn all this & much more at Adam Harber’s excellent www.midlandred.net website.
24/03/11 – 08:38
Hi I am seeking fleet list of Harpers from there start to BMMO sell out. Any costs will be met.
07/07/11 – 06:38
I now live in Cheshire and have done since 1960, I was born in Walsall Wood during the war. I remember Harpers bus service very well and used it till it was taken over, sad day. It was in my mind the best bus service I have ever known, I wish I had kept some of the early tickets which were about 3 inches by 2, all different colours and individual. The half fare for me was tuppence from Streets corner to Aldridge, If I came out of the house late and did not get to the bus stop they would pick me up, I remember in 1965 getting the bus to Aldridge and my girl friend getting on in Aldridge and she was late, John Morson the driver would shout don’t get off Jim we will wait for her. I know this is not much but you may draw something from it.
07/07/11 – 08:09
What a lovely romantic story, Jimmie – the driver knew what romance was all about! Were that service was like that today!
08/07/11 – 06:19
Thanks Chris, I have very little to offer but one thing stays in my mind, they had a double decker that was different to the others, when you went upstairs the aisle did not go down the centre with twin seats either side but went down the off side of the upper deck with seats on the left which seated 4. does that make sense. If I can think of any more useless info I will let you know.
09/07/11 – 07:05
Hi Jimmie the double decker you refer to is what was classed as a Low Bridge Decker by having the aisle along the offside meant the roofline could be lower, the normal height would be 14’6 a low bridge if I remember correctly was around 13’6. I stand corrected but I think the fleet number was 3, if you remember you had to step up from the aisle into the seats and downstairs you had to mind your head if you sat by the offside window. I used to work for Harpers for a few years from 1964 both part time and full time conducting and driving (happy days) so if their is anything that you want to know and I can give you the answer I will
09/12/11 – 08:33
Jimmie you have brought back a lot of memories. I to was born in Walsall Wood and remember Harper Bros with affection both for Bus services… Cannock through Brownhills to Kingstanding; Saturday Football Coaches to Villa, WBA and Wolves, and Saturday Holiday Coaches to North Wales resorts, New Brighton, Southport and Blackpool. In school holidays worked at their Aldridge Garage taking Holiday and Day Trip bookings. Most reliable and considerate firm out, our annual trip to Colwyn Bay would never have been the same, especially as coach hardly made the big hills at times, or had to pull in and wait to cool off. Still have a model Guy Arab in their colours, prized possession.
01/04/12 – 08:36
Has John Hellewell managed to acquire a Harper Bros fleet list yet, as I could supply him with one if required.
15/04/12 – 07:35
I think Jimmie’s referring to KRE 849, Harper’s fleet no. 24, a Burlingham lowbridge bodied Guy.
Mick – any chance of a copy of your fleet list, please?
04/07/12 – 05:14
I remember Harpers with great fondness as a young lad from the 1960′s when a bus conductor called Jack used to let me ring the bell on journeys between Hednesford and Aldridge. I am always on the look out for photos from this period and as someone has mentioned I also would love a fleet list. If anyone can.
17/07/12 – 07:11
Phil and Jimmie
The lowbridge double decker was fleet number 24, KRE 849 with Burlingham bodywork.
21/07/12 – 07:43
Thanks for the confirmation, I wasn’t sure of the fleet number as I was only a child when I used to ride on it from Cannock to Kingstanding on Saturday afternoons with my dad who used to conduct it as well as other buses in the fleet, happy memories. When I worked for Harpers it was long gone.
23/07/12 – 07:53
I would also be interested in a Harpers fleet list.
22/09/12 – 06:57
The depot at Heath Hayes wasn’t closed when Harpers were taken over, I think Midland Red used it for 3/4 years before opening the new depot at Cannock.
When Midland Red lost a significant proportion of its operating area (and depots) to WMPTE, it found itself short of depot capacity and therefore reopened a depot at Cradley Heath which had closed some time earlier. When the Cannock depot was opened, both Heath Hayes and Cradley Heath depots closed. (Yes, I know Cradley Heath is nowhere near Cannock, there must have been a bit of a swap about of routes). I believe that some of the staff from Cradley Heath actually transferred to Cannock, which must have been something of a hike for them.
Incidentally, after the loss of routes to WMPTE Midland Red publicly stated that it was on the acquisition trail – so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when, before too long, it had bought not only Harpers but also Green Bus of Rugeley.
02/10/12 – 15:22
I remember the Cannock garage, My uncle drove for Harpers and lived in the house next to the garage. I’m no sure if the house an garage are still there. Does anyone have any photos of Harpers Garage in Cannock?
27/10/12 – 05:57
Harper’s garage at Heath Hayes was demolished some time ago and replaced by housing. Their small garage at Aldridge survives as a carpet shop. As others have said, they were a special operator in their day and sold out because Albert Harper wished to retire and no other family member was interested.
07/02/13 – 06:42
I have very fond memories of Harpers of Heath Hayes as my father, the late Joe Martin was a driver for them during my childhood in the 1950′s and 60′s. I can remember a couple of other drivers, Jack Slater, Ernie ??? We lived in the village too, so I was always going on trips during school holidays with the Labour Club, The Cons Club etc. I have a photo of my dad pictured at a reunion of drivers and staff some years ago, which I will dig out and place here. I also have some black and white photos of a couple of trips with all the children, mothers and even Nurse Girdlestone assembled (a local Heath Hayes character from the 50′s and 60′s!) They show just how many people were transported to lovely places for the day by several drivers on the same day. It was like a coach convoy!
My friend’s late mother also worked in the office at the Harpers garage on the Stafford Road in Cannock, her name was Vera Sherratt and we still often talk about this great local company, who served this area of the Midlands very well. My parents originally met on my dad’s bus too on the route to Chapel Ash. In later years he gave up his job as a driver for Harpers before Midland Red took over, to work in my mothers grocery shop in Mill Street, Cannock – he always said he felt like his driving wings had been clipped!
Sorry that my account is not too bus related, but this lovely company was always held in high regard by everyone that travelled with them.
20/02/13 – 16:55
Hi Carol, I remember your late father both as a child, when my late father Cyril Burton worked different shifts with him as his conductor & some Saturdays I would have a ride to Kingstanding have a cup of tea in the billiard hall with Joe & my dad then ride back, also when your father would be the driver of an excursion to the seaside we would be going on, no motorways then. Also when I started part time with Harpers as a conductor I worked with him a few times but he did mainly excursions & private hire work then. Other drivers who would have worked for this iconic company at the time Joe was there & he would probably bring up in conversation would be George Brown, Jack Poiser, Joe Scott, Norman Mills, Eric Thacker, Les King, Ray Wilce, Tommy Owen, George & Bill Elsmore to name but a few. The people who were served by Harpers Buses & crews had no idea what a great reliable service they had until 1974 when they lost it, I bet they wish they had Harpers now.