Old Bus Photos

Midland Red – BMMO D9 – EHA 415D – 5415

Midland Red - BMMO D9 - EHA 415D - 5415

Midland Red (Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co)
BMMO/Willowbrook H40/32RD

EHA 415D has the unmistakable outline of a Midland Red D9. She has the operator’s own H72RD body, built in collaboration with Willowbrook. Does this mean one designed it and the other built it, or one built the frames and the other added the panels? We see it, newly withdrawn from service and still in full NBC livery (sorry!), in the Southsea rally on 8 June 1980.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

10/11/16 – 07:07

I wasn’t aware that Willowbrook had any involvement in the bodywork of the D9, but I am open to correction if evidence is offered. My understanding is that the bodies were built in the Midland Red Carlyle Works on MetSec frames, and incorporated aluminium alloy and glass fibre panelling, as employed previously in the single deck S14 design.

Roger Cox

10/11/16 – 07:08

It’s come back! Its no good- I have lived in the Midlands in my youth, but I still cannot get fond of Midland Red. I don’t know what it is- that all over red (It was, want it?), or I can still see those single skin fibreglass domes (is that right- how much more was single skin?) or what seemed rather drab uniform interiors… or I could never get used to that sort of "Billy’s bus" front end: but steady, I’m sure they had many virtues: perhaps they were an engineer’s bus…?


10/11/16 – 09:05

Roger, The PSVC lists might be wrong: they say that the D9 has a BMMO/Willowbrook body, with H40/32RD seating, but both Jenkinson and the old "Ian Allan" BBF listings do not mention Willowbrook. BLOTW, however, mentions only Willowbrook as building the bodies. Ah, well . . .
And the ‘captcha’ code for this comment ends in D9 !!!

Pete Davies

10/11/16 – 09:05

According to ‘Midland Red’ A history of 1940 – 1970 it states "5401-45 bodies completed by Willowbrook"


10/11/16 – 13:54

The D9 was an integral vehicle, the only double decker so constructed apart from the London Transport Routemaster, which was actually semi-integral. Production of the D9 came in several batches with the following fleet nos:-
4773 : prototype 1958
4849 – 4952 : 1958 to 1961
4945 – 5044 : 1962 to 1963
5296 – 5445 : 1963 to 1966
I confess to being previously unaware of it, though a closer look at my copy of ‘Midland Red Buses’ by M.W. Greenwood confirms that the 45 "tail end charlies" were finished off by Willowbrook, possibly in part because by this time, even before the BET sell out to NBC, BMMO in house production was winding down. Certainly, the D9 design itself owed nothing to the Willowbrook company.

Roger Cox

10/11/16 – 14:37

I have looked at Steve Richards’ book on the D9/D10 classes, titled "More Room on Top". He states that all the D9s were built at Central Works, except some of the final batch. However by the mid-sixties there was a severe skilled labour shortage at Central Works. The emphasis there was on single-deckers construction, and the final 45 D9s had only reached the part-panelled stage. It was this group which were completed by Willowbrook. They were virtually indistinguishable from the fully Carlyle-built D9s. Steve Richards records that the side lamps were positioned slightly lower, and the small "Midland" display above the destination screens was slightly different. The first four [5401-5404] were delivered in December 1965, the rest followed in 1966, finally being completed in November that year. I would say from this account that these particular ones should be described as "BMMO/Willowbrook" rather than being attributed wholly to the Loughborough company.

Michael Hampton

10/11/16 – 14:38

Although at the time I had little interest in the detail construction of buses, I do know that when I had the pleasure to drive D9’s in service in 1967 from Redditch and Digbeth garages I found them to be far superior in steering, semi-automatic gear changing, engine power, superb disc braking and general driver friendliness than anything I had driven on BCT. One slight problem I remember them to be very light and bouncy in the ride especially when empty. I certainly class them in the 3 finest double deckers to drive in my 50yrs experience with PSV’s, with the Routemaster and Neoplan Skyliner

Tony Morgan

11/11/16 – 05:44

The erroneous idea that Willowbrook constructed, rather than merely completed, the bodies on the final 45 D9s seems to have crept into all sorts of places, even on the Coventry Corporation Transport Society webpages :- //www.cct-society.org.uk/midland/buses_t05.htm 

3002 HA 
Here is a picture of an earlier D9 No.5002 (3002 HA) taken in Birmingham in the late 1960s, when the bus still wore the BET style livery and fleetname. Like its single deck counterpart, the S14, the suspension of the D9 was by Metalastik rubber units, though independent at the front. One curious feature of the D9 was the full hydraulic braking system in which the pump was driven from the output side of the gearbox, giving rather peculiar braking responses at low road speeds. In the Routemaster, the pump was driven at engine speeds. The prototype D9 originally had disc brakes at front and rear, but the first production batch had discs on the front only, with drum brakes on the rear wheels. Even these discs proved troublesome, and all the later D9s were equipped with drum brakes all round, the first batch being retro fitted accordingly. I note Joe’s impassioned plea concerning this operator, so I hope soon to submit a gallery of Midland Red buses to the OBP site for his enjoyment.

Roger Cox

11/11/16 – 08:01

Apparently this vehicle sometime in the seventies carried an all over advertisement for a ‘Do It Yourself Warehouse’ which could have been called ‘Super D’. I think it was in an all over white livery.

EHA 415D_2

Also just above the top front windows a strengthening bar can be seen which was added due to front dome fatigue.


11/11/16 – 08:01

This has been an interesting exchange of views! Thanks for your comments.

Pete Davies

12/11/16 – 07:17


Attached for comparison a side image of 5395 taken in Shrewsbury bus station in 1970.
I enjoyed riding on the D9s particularly on the rural services. An unusual feature was the inward facing front nearside seats downstairs. The book ‘ More room on top ‘ is recommended although I am biased as a friend contributed a number of excellent colour photos.

Keith Newton

12/11/16 – 07:19

I’ve seen the obvious now- that the D9 had a considerable front overhang which gives it its funny look- but as Tony says it’s an Engineer/Driver’s bus… and anything comparable with a Skyliner must be OK. We’ve been here before but compare this overhang & everything else with its contemporary the Wulfrunian and you can see how folk were thinking then, especially if rear-engine to them meant Renault 10!


16/11/16 – 14:45

It was not only D9s that were finished off by Willowbrook. S17s around the same time were and I believe both Willowbrook and Plaxton were used. Serious production difficulties caused by skilled staff shortages. Interestingly outside contractors were not used for the later S21 and S22 types but Plaxton were used for S23 by which time all production was stopping. Although every D9 appears to have been modified and allegedly no two buses were the same, the Willowbrook finished ones are identifiable by the trim above the front wheel arch. MidlandRed.net is a good source of information.

Sam Caunt

01/02/17 – 17:12

I have only just seen the comments re Willowbrook completing D9s. I can remember seeing them in skeletal form travelling along the then A50 towards Coalville. Their destination was confirmed by my father who was based in the divisional traffic office in the 1960s. The drivers would have had to take the scenic route round Ashby in order to avoid two low bridges, hence their appearance in Coalville. I am unable to say which route they used onwards to Loughborough, but the M1 would have been available from November 1965!

Peter Baseley

22/11/17 – 07:31

I must comment on the subject of the BMMO D9 (and BMMO’s in general) as a former Midland Red engineering supervisor of 25 years service.The bodywork of the Willowbrook examples might have been finished by them but the chassis was certainly built at Carlyle works-the works itself did not close.The D9 was of monocoque construction and would have had the outer panel skin added by the coachbuilders.A few more facts:D9’s were NOT disc braked,except the prototype 4773,the rest were all round hydraulic drum braked,unlike the single deckers.4773 by the way still survives,being currently restored from derelict condition.D9’s may or may not have been single skinned but they were sturdy and stable enough,as anyone who compared a ride upstairs on one with a Fleetline (DD11) on the 658 Leicester-Coventry service-the Fleetline swayed about like hell (a well known trait of Fleetlines in crosswinds.) In general BMMO’s WERE an engineer’s bus,easy to work on and reliable,but also a driver’s bus,with excellent roadholding and braking.The 10.5 litre engine (same as CM6) was probably the finest the UK bus industry has produced.
What other PSV diesel engine (in a single decker) could get away with no cooling fan at all?

Michael Hunt

20/12/18 – 06:36

These were a suberb bus. the slight setting back of the front axle reduced the wheelbase slightly and I assume this was to make the bus slightly more maneuverable or perhaps the suspension design necessitated it? I think this particular feature did incur some pitching on certain types of road surface but that aside they were excellent and likes by the drivers, which speaks volumes.
I have had the privilege of driving one occasionally and the front suspension certainly irons out road imperfections.It was only the final batches that were finished by Willowbrok just as Plaxton finished some of the saloons from the same period. There are constant references to these buses loosing the power steering if the brakes were applied, the two systems were separate and I can’t see how that could happen.

William Parker

20/12/18 – 08:52

I have 5424 and restored it from the chassis up around 18 years ago. It is a curious mis-match of technologies with extensive use of fibre glass taking weight down to compensate for the very heavy engine. They are basic and built down to a price. Mine lasted 11 years in service and only 5 in preservation before being put off the road. Midland Red had innovative engineers but their lack of resource was found out when the vehicles were in service. Many Midland Red folllowers say the reason they had so many Black Country garages combined with bus stations was to make transfer to another bus easier for the drivers when they put them off the road

Roger Burdett


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Midland Red – BMMO S15 – 5056 HA – 5056

Midland Red - BMMO S15 - 5056 HA - 5056

Midland Red (Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co)

This was one of the second batch of S15s. Broadly similar to the S14 bus, these were designed as dual-purpose vehicles and featured bucket-seats and double rear wheels as well as, on this second batch, some chrome trim. Circa 1969 the batch was relegated to bus work after being repainted into the standard bus livery. While dual-purpose they had black roofs. In this shot 5056 is seen at the Black Country Living Museum in September 2014.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson

25/06/15 – 06:46

I recall 5048 HA (allocated, I think, to Coalville depot) as a regular performer on the Birmingham – Nottingham route X99 in the 1960s. Those bucket seats were pretty comfortable.

Stephen Ford

25/06/15 – 13:34

There’s something in the ‘copy’ which intrigues me, Les, and thanks for posting. There is mention of double rear wheels as if this is something of an innovation. Given the company’s leadership in so many aspects of bus design and operation, were these really the first Midland Reds to have twin wheels at the rear?

Pete Davies

26/06/15 – 05:22

Peter, As I understand it, most of the S14 class were fitted with single rear wheels as part of a desire to produce a light-weight vehicle. Unladen weight was not much over five tons according to M.W. Greenwood’s excellent book – ‘Midland Red Buses’. The S15 was a further development of the class but with modifications, including twin rears, to produce a dual-purpose vehicle.

Les Dickinson

26/06/15 – 05:23

I am no expert on Midland Red, but I suspect that the S14 had single rear wheels as an experiment. Both AEC and Leyland tried this with their underfloor-engined buses, but found that road holding suffered.

David Wragg

26/06/15 – 05:24

I think what Les meant to convey was the fact that the previous S14, built to a lightweight design, had single rear wheels.

Nigel Edwards

27/06/15 – 06:42

Nigel is quite correct regarding single rear wheels on the S14. Although I drove S15s in service (5050, 5055 and 5073 (now preserved)), I never had chance to drive an S14 so I can’t comment on their road holding.

Larry B

27/06/15 – 06:43

Thank you for filling this gap in my knowledge of Midland Red.

Pete Davies

28/06/15 – 05:54

There are 2 S15 in preservation but this one is the only one with original DP seats. It has also been retro-fitted with the 10.5 litre engine. The driving position is not comfortable and requires some getting used to given a tight cab and upright pedals. I sold it after getting a left knee problem and so did the previous owner for the same reason. It is really fast on the road and my claim to fame is 2hrs 40mins from Gateshead to Digbeth some 4 years ago after a Bus Rally.

Roger Burdett

25/12/15 – 07:54

I conducted this bus 5056 HA in 1968 and 1969 when I worked my student holidays at the Coalville garage

Wayne Robinson

26/12/15 – 06:56

Roger B- I’ve just seen reference to your record breaking run from Gateshead to Digbeth. Were you trying to recreate the glorious days of the Midland Red Motorway Expresses? Don’t let the rozzers read this, but it would mean an average speed of at least 75 mph start to finish!

Paul Haywood

27/12/15 – 09:02

In hindsight I probably meant 3hrs 40mins. It certainly was a fast trip but we would not have gone over 70. The vehicle is geared for 75 with the gearbox/engine combination.

Roger Burdett

29/12/15 – 10:46

I was ‘taken for a ride’ on the top deck of Roger’s beautiful D9 (5424) around Bewdley at a Meet. I can vouch for his spirited handling and was treated to his own version of the "tilt test"!, afterwards speaking to him he did say "I drive like a bus driver", long may he do so.

Nigel Edwards

30/12/15 – 06:27

I travelled from home from school at Godalming to Guildford back in the ’50s and remember a couple of occasions when a bunch of us managed to get down the hill in time for an earlier bus than the usual one, we all piled up stairs but by the time we were leaving Farncombe the conductor had to come up and tell us to get down stairs because there was an insufficient number of passengers downstairs so the weight in the bus was to high for stability.
He probably didn’t use those exact words but the meaning was clear.

John Lomas

01/01/16 – 11:33

The conclusion submitted by Larry B (above 27/06/15) is quite correct as my memory of working at Redditch Garage in 1968 includes one morning with an S14, in the snow on the hilly terrain the only way to make progress was to place the rear wheels in the gutter and "sidewall" the bus along. The S14 was notorious for poor rear holding even in wet weather.

Tony Morgan

23/05/22 – 06:01

Re the BMMO S14 & S15 (speaking as a former BMMO engineer) the S15 was a slightly modified dual purpose version of the S14 and this included twin rear wheels. There is no suggestion that these were the ‘first BMMO vehicles with twin rear wheels’ as the company had been building buses since 1923 and up till the monocoque generation they had a normal chassis and yes, twin rear wheels. The S14 however was designed with light weight in mind even to the point of single rears on many (miscellaneous) examples and it was so light it was bouncy and rattily but also very light on fuel. However it lent itself to early OMO operation with various cab layouts being tried out,both open and fully enclosed although it didn’t cope well with the rough Leicestershire country roads that these OMOs ran on! Nevertheless many S14’s including OMOs retained their single rears to the end around 1971 and one such was 4714. This feature enabled you to stand in the pit and change the rear pads without removing the wheel! Yes they did slide on wet roads. But they were running almost empty as it was a railway replacement route, the 697 along the route of the former Nuneaton to Ashby/Burton line that had closed to passenger service from 1931 to closure in 1971.

Michael Hunt


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Midland Red – Daimler Fleetline – UHA 225H – 6225

UHA 225H

UHA 225H_engine

Midland Red (Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co)
Daimler Fleetline CRG6LXB
Alexander H45/30D

Midland Red 6225, UHA 225H, is a Daimler Fleetline CRG6LXB with Alexander H45/30D body, and was new in 1969. It has been restored into West Midlands livery and I include a picture of it’s Gardner engine. Both of the shots were taken last weekend at the AMRTM (Aston Manor) running day.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ken Jones

30/03/14 – 13:08

One of the Fleetlines at Southgates Garage was fitted with a Leyland pneumatic Gear change pedestal instead of the usual electric gear shift. This made for much smoother gear changes, I don’t know if it was a one off experiment or not but it was certainly an improvement.

Tony Gallimore

02/04/14 – 16:54

As a Fleetline Fan and driver at Lancashire United in the 70’s, there was absolutely nothing wrong at all with the Fleetlines Daimatic semi automatic gearbox. Had you been a passenger whilst I was driving, you be hard put to tell any of my gear changes, upwards or downwards, apart from the revs changing.
No need to put anything of Leyland origins in any Daimler buses!

Mike Norris

03/04/14 – 07:46

Totally agree, Mike. My experience with the ‘pedestal’ Leyland Pneumocyclic box showed that it was very slow in responding to movement of the gear selector lever. Smooth gear changes required one to anticipate the action of the gearbox. To change gear upwards, one had to move the lever into neutral and only then release the accelerator, pause, then engage the next gear position, and pause again before pressing the accelerator again. Similarly, changing down meant selecting neutral whilst still holding the accelerator, blipping the engine, moving the lever into the next gear down and only then pressing the accelerator again. Lazy drivers not bothered about this would give a snatchy ride and wear out the gearbox brakebands. The SCG gearbox and its licensed versions always gave instantaneous response to gear lever movements.

Roger Cox

05/04/14 – 07:15

I have to agree that uncomfortable and unpleasant gear changes on semi-automatic gear boxes were, assuming the gearbox was properly maintained, almost certainly due to lazy driving techniques and a lack of pride in doing the job to the best of ones ability with management either unaware or uncaring of this habit plus it annoyed those who did do their very best. The Leyland direct air operated gear change did need the technique so accurately described by Roger but was by no means as difficult to master as it may sound and I came to enjoy using it perhaps because it needed that little extra thought to get the best out of it.

Diesel Dave

06/04/14 – 08:32

Midland Red had three classes of Fleetline/Alexanders. The first 50 arrived in 1963 and were classed DD11. During 1966 to 1968 a total of 149 very similar Fleetlines, class DD12. Finally, between 1969 and 1971 came the DD13s – 103 in all, including UHA 225H. The DD13s had centre exits and also Gardner 6LXB engines, which gave a rather better performance than the 6LXs in the other two classes.
Many, possibly most, DD12s were retrofitted with pneumocyclic gearboxes by the early 1970s, as described by Tony Gallimore. I have never found out why. No DD11s or DD13s were so converted as far as I know.
I seem to recall that in the 1980s a handful of Fleetlines that Midland Red South obtained from West Riding had pneumocyclic gearboxes. Was this correct or am I mistaken?

Peter Hale

20/04/14 – 16:07

I, too, liked the pedestal-change conversion on the DD12. It was located by your left hip and encouraged you to sit more upright when driving, doing wonders for back and shoulders! The DD11s were probably excluded due to age, and the DD13s because of the exit door control.
Does anyone remember DD11 5261 when it was powered by a BMMO 10.5 engine? Any facts, particularly from engineering staff, gratefully received.

Allan White

23/04/14 – 05:34

With regards to the comment on DD1 5261 I remember this vehicle during my early teens when I was a Midland Red enthusiast, it was based at Sutton Coldfield and could be seen on the 160 family of services at peak times, in my opinion it out performed the other dd11’s but was extremely noisy in the lower deck, another of my favourite buses was D9 prototype 4773 located to Sheepcote Street ( a regular performer on the above services), really miss those great days, sadly left the Birmingham area in 1967.


06/05/14 – 07:41

Re. Peter Hale 6/IV: Midland Red (South) acquired 4 of the PHL XXXK Northern Counties-bodied Fleetlines from WRAC in 1985. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on the transmission. However, I do remember travelling from Oadby into Leicester in early 1985 aboard one of Midland Fox’s ex-Yorkshire ECW-bodied LHD XXXK Fleetlines: what struck me was that gear selection was by a Leyland pneumocyclic selector, which was mounted to the side of the instrument housing (where you’ld expect to find the smaller SCG selector) . . . and selection was automatic (as the selector lever was left in the same position throughout the journey. (Trent’s Fleetlines DRC536-551J [536-551] had a similar arrangement.) And yes, my memories have been stirred by "Midland Red in NBC Days", (Geenwood/Roberts, Ian Allan,) which I picked up at the weekend.

Philip Rushworth

25/06/14 – 08:29

A lot of the D12 class Fleetlines had the Leyland style pedestal changes, but not all. It’s never been quite clear if it was a Midland Red modification. Regardless of gear selector type, the gearbox remained the same.
The fierceness or otherwise of the gearchanges is down to the setting of a valve which regulates the pressure of the air being supplied to the gearbox, via the EP Valve.(the pedestal changes had the EP valve built in). This regulator valve was adjustable, and they were frequently set wrongly :in those days companies overhauled their own units, valves etc, and when the regulator valves were assembled, the adjuster screw would just be screwed in and locked in any old position. A test rig would have been needed to set the pressure correctly, and nobody was going to build one for something like this.
So valves were fitted to buses and the pressure would often be set too high causing fierce changes. Likewise no-one was going to go to the trouble of fitting a pressure gauge into the line on the bus to get the pressure right, so it was down to trial and error, if anybody could be bothered.
I remember when WMPTE Stourbridge Garage closed and Oldbury inherited their National 2’s – they used to leap in the air almost the gearchanges were so bad. Once they were all adjusted the difference was remarkable and it was impossible to get a bad change then, no matter how you tried.

I’ve just noticed that the engine shot of 6225 reveals it has been retro-fitted with an air accelerator, using the same make of rear cylinder as found on National 1 (510), prototype Metrobus, and others. No doubt this has been done because of a stiff throttle: the most common cause of this was the accelerator pedal heel/hinge becoming dry and seizing up over time. Seems a lot of trouble to go to, especially as you don’t have the same amount of control as with the hydraulic system normally fitted.


25/06/14 – 18:04

The comment about the transmission on the ex.Yorkshire Woollen ECW bodied Fleetlines at Midland Fox surprised me. They must have had their transmissions altered by their new owners because when they were at YWD they had normal four speed gearboxes with a 5th position on the gear lever to open the entrance door.

Philip Carlton

27/09/14 – 07:07

I am of an age where I remember the DD12 & DD13 buses running with Midland Red (later Midland Red East and Midland Fox) in Leicester. Three buses of these types that spring to mind that regularly worked my local routes were GHA 429D, SHA 870G & UHA 207H. They were nice buses but rattled well from what I can recall.

Kieron Willans

29/09/14 – 07:37

Re. Philip Carlton 25/06 (and sorry to have taken so long to have replied – I must have missed the post): it was how unusual this feature (direct pneumocyclic selection) was that struck me – I must have used vehicles from this batch once or twice in Yorkshire, but never noticed that . . . so I suspect Philip is right, that Yorkshire’s LHD XXXK Fleetlines were modified after arrival at Midland Fox. Why? it seems an awful lot of expense on already long-in-the-tooth hardware.

Philip Rushworth

01/03/17 – 06:32

Having both being a conductor and a driver for BMMO in the 60s I have driven most of the buses used during this period D9 buses I found to be very stable much more than the Leyland that were purchased, these were terrible in windy conditions especially when winds were blowing between houses, you could often be on the wrong side of the road. The Leyland National also difficult to pull onto bus laybys when there was a line of raised "bricks"/kerbstones when the road was wet no such trouble with BMMO. Having the front wheels set back as the D9s were meant a much smaller turning circle. Disc brakes fitted in 1959 for C5s etc how advanced can you get most cars of that era did not have these.4943/4 both at Stafford at the end of there life another innovation engine under the floor better balance than rear engines of Leyland F Fleetline which were very light at the front.

Graham Millard

01/03/17 – 12:07

Moving away from the transmission to the bodywork, when Alexander initially designed the A style body back in 1962, it incorporated the windshield and upper deck front windows that were supplied on the Y series coach body as windshield and rear window respectively. I can understand why BMMO specified the easily fitted split windscreen as replacement of the original after damage could be costly, but why go to the trouble and expense of redesigning the upper deck window arrangement? No other BET company operating the Alexander body seemed to have trouble with that the upper deck window and none to my knowledge either followed the BMMO redesign or made changes of their own.

Phil Blinkhorn


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