Old Bus Photos

Midland Red – BMMO S15 – 5056 HA – 5056

Z TopMidland 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


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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


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Midland Red – BMMO D10 – 943 KHA – 4943

Midland Red - BMMO D10 - 943 KHA - 4943

Midland Red - BMMO D10 - 943 KHA - 4943

Midland Red (Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co)

This fascinating vehicle was the first of two prototype underfloor-engined double deckers built by Midland Red in 1960/61. AEC had shown such a layout was possible, with its Crossley-bodied Regent IV underfloor-engined decker prototype of 1950, which conformed to minimum gangway headroom requirements, while remaining within vehicle maximum height limits. The AEC had a rear platform however, whereas the Midland Red D10 design took this one step further in having the entrance alongside the driver. As was expected of Midland Red, advanced features were to the fore and the D10 sported chassisless construction, power steering, semi-automatic transmission, disc brakes and ‘Metalastik’ rubber suspension. However, the most interesting feature was the offsetting of the midships-mounted BMMO 10.5 litre horizontal Diesel engine to the nearside of the vehicle. In order to avoid raising the lower deck floor level more than necessary, the highest parts of the engine, the flywheel and housing, were thus positioned to the side of the gangway (under nearside seats) rather than being directly below it. Consequently the slimmer parts of the engine, the cylinder heads, were beneath the gangway, allowing it to be lower. A second prototype was built in 1961 (4944: 1944 HA), and was originally to a two door / two staircase layout. The front entrance was of normal width but the rear exit was of a narrow design, and 4944 was converted to conventional single door/single staircase layout in 1962. (Intriguing how the HA registration followed the KHA mark, rather than the other way around). No more D10’s were built, but fortunately 4943 has been preserved, and is seen here in Harrogate at a Trans-Pennine Rally in, I think, the mid-70’s.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Brendan Smith

24/10/13 – 08:06

The D10s always appear to me to look quite tall . . . what was the overall height? and how does that compare with a Volvo Citybus or Leyland Lion DD?? Presumably, if BMMO had put the D10 into production "new bus grant" would have subsequently killed-off the under-floor design anyway (even if BMMO hadn’t been forced to cease vehicle production in 1971[?]). But here’s a thought: couldn’t the off-set engine layout have formed the basis for a lower-floor under-floor-engined single-decker – more suited to urban use then contemporary designs, and perhaps an alternative to rear-engined chassis?

Philip Rushworth

24/10/13 – 08:07

The D9 was sometimes called the Birmingham Routemaster, so this could be the Birmingham FRM. No one really mentions that the Q was a design not unlike this – but way before its time. Of course the Volvo D10M or B10DM (depending on age and in which factory it was built) was perhaps the most successful bus of this concept – but don’t forget the Leyland Lion either. Good that 943 is still with us, though.

David Oldfield

24/10/13 – 08:08

And, about 25 – 30 years later, came the Volvo D10M, as used by Southdown. Once again, Midland Red leads the field! Nice views, Brendan. Thanks for posting!

Pete Davies

24/10/13 – 09:29

Do I spy a Wulfrunian lurking in the background of the second shot.

David Oldfield

25/10/13 – 07:54

I think you did, David. Allowing for perspective look at the heights?


25/10/13 – 07:55

Have you noticed that every window bay in the lower deck and every bay except the front in the upper deck has a sliding window included (ok hinged vent in rear upper deck bay). That’s quite unusual. I worked in Stoke when the two D10s were at nearby Stafford yet I never went to look for or travel on them. Can’t believe it!

Ian Wild

25/10/13 – 12:49

Sometimes we could kick ourselves for missed opportunities, Ian.

David Oldfield

26/10/13 – 07:29

As far as I know all BMMO double deckers built from 1950 onwards, D5s through to D10s, had a full set of sliding vents both sides, with the exception of the all Leyland LD8s.

Tony Gallimore

30/10/13 – 11:52

Both of the D10’s ended their days operating from Stafford depot. One day my friend and I caught the train from Manchester to Stafford to spend the day riding on Midland Red buses; we visited Walsall and Wolverhampton. On returning to Stafford we had half an hour to wait for the train, and one of the D10’s was in service. We boarded it and travelled to the first stop, just to say we had ridden on a D10!
If the D10 had entered production, would it have been copied by other bus builders? It might have resulted in a shorter production life for the Atlantean and Fleetline.

Don McKeown

07/11/13 – 08:00

Not sure if I have put this in the correct posting.

May I add some comments on the BMMO underfloor engine? As a Midland Red engineering supervisor at a certain garage operating CM6’s and numerous other types, for many years, there are one or two points that should be mentioned. One is that having worked on these and Leyland Leopards side by side, the huge difference in engine accessibility cannot be ignored. The BMMO engine was surrounded by acres of empty space, every necessary component was easily accessed, often from under the side without need for a pit. The starter motor for example, could be changed in five minutes flat. I know, I did it many times. Alternator, water pump, fuel system etc, ditto. Jobs that would take at least twice as long on a Leopard. And this brings me to point number two: the cooling system. The BMMO system was non-pressurised, it ran cool most of the time, largely due to the large water capacity – I think 17 gal. on S17/CM6 onwards-no cooling fan, and those masses of empty space to allow air in! And a cylinder head design which would tolerate a leaky gasket for days if kept topped up, despite a radiator of oily water.., at least, in local use. A blown head gasket on a Leopard spelled trouble! Usually a cracked cylinder liner unless you were lucky. It was a great shame that the magnificent BMMO 10.44 litre engine wasn’t adopted for a new standard NBC design: I believe a top secret rear engined prototype was built and tested at the beginning of the 1970s, but the Leyland lobby won the day, and we got the dreaded National… thanks for the chance to talk of old times…great times.

Michael F

07/11/13 – 09:35

Another sad indictment of NBC and BLMC Michael.

David Oldfield

12/06/14 – 08:24

"Intriguing how the HA registration followed the KHA mark, rather than the other way around."
Smethwick started reversed registrations in September 1955 with 1 AHA. Upon reaching 999 MHA in April 1960, they decided to start issuing 501 HA etc on cars, buses and trucks – the three-letter series continuing only on motorcycles.
They reached 9719 HA before adopting the year suffix system in August 1964.

Des Elmes

12/06/14 – 10:09

Fascinating to read Michael F’s account of the D10’s qualities and of its unfulfilled potential, and until reading Brendan’s piece I hadn’t appreciated how ingeniously the designers had positioned the engine to minimise intrusion. One question: surely such a concentration of weight on the nearside—not only the engine but the gearbox as well—must have caused problems? At least the AEC Q had an offside engine, tending to counteract the road-camber effect.

Ian T

12/06/14 – 14:15

I assume that Cleethorpes did not normally figure on Midland Red destination blinds – not double deckers at any rate?!

Stephen Ford

12/06/14 – 17:29

Ian, the location of the fuel tank on the offside would have surely contributed some weight balance to a degree. Thinking of unbalanced chassis, I wonder if the Bristol VRL might have suffered from handling problems with the concentration of so much weight in the overhung offside rear corner.

Roger Cox

17/06/14 – 06:55

Ian, Peter Nash’s fascinating book ‘Push Once – life in the bus industry’ mentions problems related to the D10’s engine being mounted off centre. Apparently this did cause brake linings and parts of the suspension system to wear unevenly, but the most serious problem appears to have been that "the engine location compromised the integrity of the frame leading to cracks in stress panels in later life". As the vehicles were in effect prototypes, surely this problem could have been overcome with further development? That said, Bristol-ECW encountered a few structural problems over the years with the LS semi-integral design, and eventually the model was replaced by the MW, which reverted to a traditional chassis frame.

Brendan Smith

25/06/14 – 08:27

There must have been some issues with cooling as at some point 4943 had been fitted with an electric fan, presumably thermostatically controlled. I dare say for the majority of time it was not needed, but I expect sitting in traffic queues may have made a difference, not that there were many of those in Stafford.


25/06/14 – 11:12

943 KHA_int_1

943 KHA_int_2

I took these pictures of D10 4943 in 2008. It can be seen the nearside seating was on a shallow platform, with the only real intrusion into the saloon of the mechanicals, in the form of a small ‘hump’ midway down.
Otherwise the floor area was remarkably clutter free.


25/06/14 – 13:11

Thx, Mark, for the photos. The floor is commendably level and clutter-free, with a complete lack of a dwarf-only area at rear of so many current buses! Mention of Stafford brings back memories of English Electric and 16MU RAF Stafford, where I was based until 1959, thus missing seeing this vehicle! I doo recall the sole, grossly-overloaded bus which ran all night on Sunday nights, ferrying returning airmen to camp. Like the King Alfred Regent V healing over, displayed recently, we often wondered if our bus was going to recover from its alarming angle! Standing passengers upstairs does NOT aid stability!

Chris Hebbron

25/06/14 – 13:11

Regarding Cleethorpes on the blind, many Midland Red garages ran summer dated Holiday services to resorts, for example the Eastern/Leicester area garages ran to such places as Skegness, Mablethorpe, etc; these services more often than not were run by Dual Purpose vehicles : the point being the destination blind would be the same one fitted to every type of vehicle (except full coaches which rarely ran on any type of stage carriage). There were also other far flung places on some garages blinds, as again the stock with comfier seating would quite often be used on Associated Motorways work where BMMO would be joint operator of a route, and such places as Bristol, Cheltenham, Glasgow, Manchester etc. would feature.


25/06/14 – 18:09

943 KHA_us

An interesting view of the underside of 4943, showing the deft positioning of the mechanical’s. The engine was placed the opposite way round to the single-deckers ie; cylinder heads towards the centre/crankcase to nearside, thus avoiding raising the floor level. Taken when new in Carlyle works – so ahead of it’s time.

Nigel Edwards

25/06/14 – 18:09

I remember seeing 16MU on the destination blinds of Stafford buses in the 80’s and wondering what it was, now I know!


23/06/15 – 06:39

The bearded gentleman leaning out of the bus is Keith Bodley, and I was probably not far away when this picture was taken.

Tony Martin

943 KHA_01 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

16/10/15 – 05:58

Having driven both D10s at Stafford "1965" I never found any handling problems, however one problem that did occur was with brake failure 4943 this was corrected though very quickly. One interesting point was D7 4162 was fitted with a turbo charger one could always tell the difference as with the engine under power it would have a whistling from the exhaust. Leyland Fleetline deckers were very unstable in windy conditions you were always correcting the direction of travel, also the single decker "Leyland National" would often not go over the slightly raised surface of bus stop laybys when it was raining no problem with any BMMOs though.Having travelled on many service buses throughout the last sixty years I have never found any modern PCV,s that matched the comfort quietness and lack of rattles of BMMOs.

Graham M


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