Old Bus Photos

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 All the SLRs were withdrawn in 1955, and, although the spares availability for second hand BMMO manufactured vehicles has always posed problems, some, at least, of these coaches found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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