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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
27/06/15 – 06:43
Thank you for filling this gap in my knowledge of Midland Red.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.