Old Bus Photos

Harper Bros – AEC Regal III – TRE 251 – 42

Harper Bros - AEC Regal III - TRE 251 - 42
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Harper Bros (Heath Hayes) Ltd
Burlingham C33F

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.

Mick Bullock

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.

Peter Walford

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.

John Hellewell

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.

Jimmie Charles

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!

Chris Hebbron

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.

Jimmie Charles

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

Phil Burton

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.

Ken Paskin

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.

Mick Bullock

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?

Graeme Fisher

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.

Keith Harley

17/07/12 – 07:11

Phil and Jimmie
The lowbridge double decker was fleet number 24, KRE 849 with Burlingham bodywork.

Graeme Fisher

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.

Phil Burton

23/07/12 – 07:53

I would also be interested in a Harpers fleet list.

Alan Nicholls

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.

David Call

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.

Tony Martin

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.

Carol Jones

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.

Phil Burton

09/06/13 – 11:38

I remember Harpers well through my childhood and youth. They had a garage and small booking office at the corner of New Penkridge Road Cannock with Dartmouth Avenue. One of their renowned drivers was named Jim Brown and he lived nearby in New Penkridge Road and I was at school with his son Emlyn.
My Aunt at Wedges Mills used to organise coach trips with Harpers through many summers late 40s early 50s – Rhyl, Blackpool, New Brighton, Evesham at blossom and fruit times and London all being popular Sunday destinations leaving happy memories. My Aunt was a nervous passenger and was always more nervous when Jim drove the coach as she considered him a "speed mad driver" and she often used to say " He will kill us all" – in truth he was a good driver and she was just suffering from nervousness.
Also recall that on Saturdays when Wolves were playing at home at 2pm a single deck and a double deck Harpers would pass through packed with supporters to the game.
In the late 50s my method of transport to my first job was via Harpers single decker from Cannock (Rosas Cafe) to Brewood via Hatherton, Calf Heath and Four Ashes a life line for those places at that time..

Tony Bibb

10/03/14 – 14:53

I too used to travel on Harpers buses 1948-1964
I lived in Hatherton Village, Cannock.
Yes the bus drivers used to know every ones ‘habits’ and would wait for any of their usual passengers if they were late. Conductors helped you on and off the bus with any luggage.
I remember going to school one very deep snowy morning in Brewood, and the bus got stuck in a drift on Somerford corner, so the driver Harry, locked up the bus and actually marched us all round to our school in a line. Then went back to sort his bus out.
Nothing was too much trouble for any of the drivers or conductors.
One of the drivers I remember by name was Levi, and the guy that wore the brown overall, was he the Inspector Mr Cardman or something close to that name.
Oh what memorable, pleasant happy days.
Service with a smile always. It was a grand company.

Carole Mears

19/03/14 – 07:33

Hi Carole I think the names you are thinking about are possibly Levi Humphries and Athy Carden. Like you say pleasant happy days.

Phil Burton

11/08/14 – 09:54

It’s been a couple of years since I have been on this site, I am amazed how much has been added since then, I found the picture of the tickets interesting & remember them, however before those tickets which rolled out of a small machine when the handle was turned, the conductor & I do remember Jack if it’s the same man had a kind of wooden clip board which he took the individual tickets out & punched a hole in them, does anyone remember those wonderful different coloured tickets? Why didn’t I keep some. Also, after reading your articles I felt a warmth which you don’t get these days, also, I remember the day trips to Wales, a real treat for ordinary kids who had very little & there were plenty of us. How lucky we were.

Jimmie Charles

11/06/16 – 05:31

As a lad of 13 during the late 60s l went on many day trips with Harpers during the school holidays. My late mother and father would book the tickets for us from a little office in Park Road Sutton Coldfield,close to where we lived. We would meet the coach at a place called Harman Road and the adventure would start. We had no car and limited amounts of money, but Harpers helped to create some of the happiest memory’s of my life, l will never forget them and their ‘family ‘of friendly drivers.

John Starkey

19/06/16 – 05:55

I worked for Harper Bros in their Heath Hayes office from 1962-1974,then Midland Red 1974-1978. I did a short period of working at the ‘Gloria De Luxe Office in Sutton Coldfield, before moving to Head Office. Best time of my working life.

Pam Harris (Nee Dodd)

08/11/17 – 06:24

I remember Harpers Buses fondly from my early days. We lived in Stonnall and my Nan lived in Commonside Brownhills so we either got a bus to Streets Corner or the Brownhills bus to Freezeland Lane.
We then moved to Aldridge and continued to use Harpers buses.
Even our Bruce dog used them – he was a pretty savvy Corgi-Collie cross. He’d always gone on the buses with Mom and Dad and knew enough to hop on a bus at the corner of Leighswood Ave and Northgate, get under the seat and then get off at Streets Corner and go to my Great Grandad’s house and then, having found no one in, trot off round to Nan’s. He did a similar trick but went back to our old house in Main St Stonnall before going down to my Gran’s in Cartersfield Lane. He got away with this because the conductor, Levy who many will remember, knew him.

Chris Smith

TRE 251_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

07/03/20 – 07:25

As a lad of 17 I lived in Clacton-on-Sea and often took one of Suttons Coaches to London to visit my Grandfather.
I very clearly recall the delivery in 1947 of New Leyland Tigers and AEC Regal III’s. A couple of times I travelled on the inaugural trip of one of these vehicles.
While I am almost 90 I still recall those trips very clearly. I have trawled the web looking for pictures of these and my only find was A Tiger LVX 679 and LVX 680. I have found info on AEC Regal OTW 50 but no pictures. Do you have any ideas about places to look.

David Hawksworth

09/03/20 – 06:39

David if you use the search facility on the "Bus lists on the web" site it will bring up results from the "flickr" photo sharing site of OTW 50.

Stephen Howarth

09/03/20 – 06:40

A gentleman called David Troughton wrote a book on Suttons of Clacton a few years ago. I have a copy but can’t find a supplier on the internet.

Nigel Turner


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