Old Bus Photos

Midland Red – SOS SON – FHA 472 – 472 – 2317

Midland Red - SOS SON - FHA 472 - 472 - 2317
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Midland Red (Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co)
Brush B38F

This uncredited wartime view of Midland Red FHA 472 (472 later 2317) shows it with masked headlamps and reflective mudguards. It was one of a large batch of SON’s built between 1935 and 1940 and is seen wearing its original lined and logo’d livery.
Incredibly, Midland Red then still favoured the use of bulkhead slot-in destination boards, even though the body shell seems to have provision for a small destination screen. These smart but archaic buses were rebuilt in the late 1940s by Hooton, Nudd Bros and Lockyer, but still minus a destination screen, which extended some of their lives until the late 1950s.

FHA 472_cu
Just visible in an enlarged view is the stencilled bulkhead route number X99, which ran from Birmingham to Nottingham via Tamworth and Ashby-de-la-Zouch. This long route, according to a 1962 timetable, needed 2¾ hours to achieve, even as a limited stop service. Was the lack of destination board a wartime security measure? Was this view taken in Birmingham or Nottingham?

Photograph and Copy contributed by Paul Haywood

06/07/12 – 07:25

What was the purpose of the nearside mirror. Certainly at the angle it was set it would have been no use to the driver for looking down the nearside of the bus.
Could it possibly have been for him to look into the saloon to see if there were any passengers wanting to alight whilst the conductor was busy collecting fares and hadn’t given the stop signal?

Eric Bawden

06/07/12 – 07:26

Paul – this shot of FHA 472 was taken in Nottingham. The location is Glasshouse Street and the building in the background is Nottingham Victoria Station.

Michael Elliott

06/07/12 – 14:28

I suspect you’ve answered your own question, Eric, as that would be my guess too; it’s only a guess, though, and there will be people out there who can give us a definitive answer.
It isn’t clear from the photo how much flexibility (if any) there was on the mirror arm: in other words, could it have been turned to give a view of either the nearside of the bus or the platform at the whim of the driver?

Alan Hall

FHA 472_mir

08/07/12 – 07:52

Another "Midland Red" gem!

Pete Davies

08/12/12 – 09:44

I may be repeating information mentioned elsewhere on the site but up until the 1st January 1958 there was no requirement for buses* to have a nearside mirror fitted. Observe bus photos up until the early 50’s, almost all with no nearside mirror! By the same token, there are lots of photos showing buses loading with the vehicle, unsurprisingly, some distance from the kerb. Knowing the delights (!) of driving a Regent II, what with its crash box, minimal power, heavy steering, curious pedal actions and cramped cab, I take my hat off to the guys that used to do a full shift in such a vehicle and all that without the assistance of a nearside mirror either!
*inc Goods vehicles, dual purpose vehicles and passenger carrying vehicle with more than 7 seats.

Berisford Jones

11/12/12 – 16:08

Seeing the SOS single deckers brought back an interesting memory. Just before Christmas 1953, my father drove the family straight six Daimler into the back of one somewhere between Malvern and Worcester. The force of impact disable the emergency door, and the front of the car was wedged under the bus against the back axle. I believe a crane was needed to eventually remove the car from under the bus.
I had two journeys on FEDDs. Once with an old aunt back to Perry Barr – I don’t remember where we had been. Later, a long ride – upstairs at the front from Birmingham to Sutton Coldfield on the No 107. They were still around Smethwick garage until 1960 – just missing being preserved.


12/02/13 – 14:55

Memories!!! I lived twixt the 107 and Birmingham 5a route with the S76 and S67 passing my front door the latter were the buses from the Beggars Bush to Erdington Six Ways, one via Court Lane and one via Goosemoor Lane. All my life until National Service in 1954 they were serviced by AHA’s, CHA’s and DHA’s, nothing newer than that. The mirror was for the driver to see the passenger position generally, my grandad worked at Caryle Road and always commented that the Birmingham idea of a) the mirror in the cab looking back through the small glass window above the b) sliding glass communication window were far better ideas, particularly as he often was criticised by some drivers for moving the mirror when he cleaned the bus. I never thought of them as being ugly apart from the very early double deckers which seemed destined to take me to school in Sutton Coldfield for ever.

Bob Davis


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Midland Red – SOS SLR – CHA 976 – 1994

CHA 976_lr
Copyright Roger Cox

Midland Red (Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Co)
English Electric C30C

Following on from Paul Haywoods posting of a Midland Red Regent II I thought you may be interested in a picture of one of the types of vehicle produced by the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company itself under its SOS manufacturing name, possibly standing for "Shire’s Own Specification" – L. G. Wyndham Shire was the BMMO Chief Engineer – though other interpretations have been suggested. This vehicle is a coach of the SLR type, which stood for "Saloon Low Rolls Royce", indicating a comparison with RR luxury rather than any mechanical involvement of that firm. The SLR coaches, of which fifty examples were produced in 1937, had English Electric C30C bodywork, and were fitted with six cylinder RR2LB petrol engines of 6.373 litres capacity, though these were replaced by Leyland E181 7.4 litre diesels in 1948. All the SLRs were withdrawn in 1955, and, although the spares availability for second hand BMMO manufactured vehicles has always posed problems, some, at least, of these coaches found further work elsewhere, including places like Cyprus and the Canary Islands. This one was photographed in Cambridge in 1959, when it was owned by Sindall, contractors. Unfortunately, on a bright, sunny day, the vehicle was parked with its front end deeply in shade under trees, which rather taxed the limitations of my trusty Brownie 127 of those days.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

20/05/12 – 12:02

I’ve never seen one of these before, in the flesh or in a photo and didn’t even know they existed. They would just have gone out of service by the time I was in the RAF in the Midlands. The radiator grill is pure Maudslay SF40 in style and you can see the follow-on post-war, in the superb lines of the C1’s. I also liked the C5’s, too.
Do you recall, Roger, if it was still in BMMO’s livery? It looks like the post-war livery of red/black, but maybe the pre-war one was different.
1937 would have been EE’s period of diversification into coachbuilding – let’s hope the bodies were sounder built than their earlier attempts with bus bodies! The chassis did not receive new bodies, it would seem, so maybe they were, although maybe they were rebuilt! Of course, coaches were often laid up for the duration of the war, or led easier lives as ambulances. Nice photo, overcoming the challenging conditions very well.

Chris Hebbron

It just so happens Chris there is a C1 and a C5 coming shortly


20/05/12 – 16:43

Splendid photo, Roger, of a delightful looking machine. It certainly looks to be in its MR black and red coaching livery as I doubt if a contractor would have "thoiled" the cost of a dual-colour repaint. It amazes me that in 1937 MR were building these almost art-deco coaches when the rest of their huge fleet of single-decker buses were little more than throw-backs to the 1920s, still using slot-in destination boards instead of roller blinds. How things changed after the war.

Paul Haywood

20/05/12 – 17:00

Unfortunately, Chris, at this distance in time, I cannot positively recall the livery, but it certainly looks like the standard post war coaching red/black, which this class certainly received – the book "Midland Red Buses" by M.W. Greenwood has two pictures of these coaches in that livery. The bodies must have proved to be reasonably sound as they lasted for 18 years with Midland Red, and then had several more years in secondhand afterlife.

Roger Cox

21/05/12 – 07:40

After their long service life a number of these old-timers were converted to dual-control and continued in the driver training roll. On leaving the RAF in 1957 I actually had my driving assessment on one at Bearwood prior to my PSV test on a D7 three weeks later. Thanks Roger for the added info I was not aware of. Just to continue the "SLR" interest, came across this interesting snippet- http://www.flickr.com/photos/ -it is amazing to find these old birds still able to give useful service well after their sell-by date. Looking again at Roger’s post I think the fleet number was 2424, I stand to be corrected – or shot . . . .

Nigel Edwards

21/05/12 – 07:42

There’s a photo of one of these in its original finery in my English Electric gallery at: http://davidbeilby.zenfolio.com

David Beilby

21/05/12 – 09:27

Two excellent photos at opposite ends of their lives. Interesting that David’s gleaming one shows the coach with a different grill and stylish art deco SOS badge!
Midland Red’s coaches certainly had style either side of the war.

Chris Hebbron

22/05/12 – 07:51

Nigel, there is a picture of one of these coaches after conversion to a dual control trainer at the following site, which must bring back some memories. http://www.flickr.com/photos/geoffsimages/6925352463/  
On the subject of the fleet number, I do not have a BMMO historical fleet list, and I deduced the number from the text of a picture I saw on the web, but which I cannot now find. However, I have since found these pictures of CHA 965 and 990 on hire to Epsom Races in 1951 at the site below. The fleet numbers are given respectively as 1983 and 2008, which tie in with the postulated number for CHA 976. http://www.na3t.org/road/photo/Hu02677

Roger Cox

23/05/12 – 09:25

I did my National Service in Egypt and then Tripoli. I was amazed to see these lovely old coaches in Tripoli – I think they were conveying US Airmen to and from Wheel US Airbase. The RASC operated a rickety Morris Commercial bus service for British troops. I have always been a Midland Red enthusiast and enjoyed going to Birmingham from Wolverhampton on the top deck of a FEDD – a wonderful experience.

Eric Bannon

Eric there is a FEDD posting in the pipeline.


24/05/12 – 08:11

Roger, thanks for the link – could well have been me (1957), Navigation Street, and in fact many of the city centre streets, were the ‘standard’ route for trainees at this time. Splendid bit of nostalgia especially the ‘Moggy’

Nigel Edwards

18/10/12 – 17:20

David Beilby suggests you follow a link to his site.
I suggest that anyone that has not looked at his GEC collection of Photos has a look, some of the interiors are the best internal shots I have seen.

David Aston

07/04/14 – 08:12

Sindalls had at least ten of these CHA952/968/972/976/977/981/982/985/989/992 In a recent article it was claimed eight of these went to PVD. One in Classic Bus had Sindall Fleet no 268.
Which ones went to PVD and what registration was 268?

David Aston


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