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Midland Red at Digbeth

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
I have enjoyed rabbiting on about working on the Midland Red over on another Thread started by teh and feel that us Digbeth blokes hijacked it! teh wanted info on Sutton as well as other stuff unconnected with buses. For this reason I hope it is OK to start this new Thread. Here is a flying start! Well, it felt like flying in a CM5T!
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Thanks Alf, there wasn't much that could pass those in '59 when the M1 opened and many a car engine was blown up trying. We could cruise at 80 and still have some in reserve! Got a pic here of me leaving London with a later CM6T after they were refurbished. That destination box cost us a good 10mph in a strong headwind. (Sorry my scanner has messed up the grille a bit)
 

john70

master brummie
Its been really good as you say rabbiting on about The Red on that other thread Mike, especially with your experiance, memories and photo,s, thats another cracker of you leaving London, wonder how many times you did that?, looking forward to this thread now. Cheers mate. John.
 

Lloyd

master brummie
Here's a few Digbeth photos from my stock - I spent a large chunk of my working life there and collected more than a few for my collection.
Firstly Prototype CM6 5295 which was originally a 36' long version of the C5 complete with 'lantern' windscreen. This coach had a 10.5 litre turbocharged engine and an overdrive gearbox, and when on test at the Road Research Laboratory circuit at Nuneaton recorded 145MPH. At the Transport Ministry's insistence the turbocharger was removed and it could only do 95 MPH afterwards!
Second, CM5T (the T stood for 'Toilet - the rear nearside corner windows are opaque to provide light yet privacy) 4805 leaves Digbeth for London, having just turned right from Mill Lane across the dual carriageway to head south.
Third, S12 3738 prepares to take up service on one of the busy routes operated by this garage.
Finally in 1997 two visiting National Express coaches park on the yard created by the demolition of the former engineers offices and depot canteen (upstairs) on the Rea Street side of the building. The recovery truck, a 1947 ex-army AEC Matador gun tractor bought in the 50s given a new body made of a selection of bus and coach components in 1960 sits alongside. This vehicle now lives at Wythall museum in the colours of its next (after Midland Red) owner, North Birmingham Busways. I drove it once under Midland Red ownership, to assist an engineer who couldn't manage its 'crash' gearbox, and when I worked for NBB I drove it several more times recovering buses a fifth of its age when they broke down!
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Thanks for those Lloyd and to hear from you John. Pity I never kept track of the number of trips I did. My first weekend of Londons over an Easter Bank Holiday nearly put me off doing motorway work straightaway. I went down Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and it rained every day, (nothing new there then) but with the Bank Holiday traffic as well I thought blow this for a game of soldiers but the sun came out on Wednesday and I was back on bus turns until the following weekend, when it didn't seem so bad after all. If you look on the nearside front seat of 5653 it's off duty Conductor Chatteralia returning to Brum from a holiday. He was well named, he used to talk you to death when you had a saloon to work with him, but was a good guard as well.
Before we get off the Motorways, this pic was an official pic from the Midland Red and is the CM5T again. Pity it wasn't in colour. Anyone got the original from the Eagle comic?
 

john70

master brummie
Another good story Mike, thats an interesting pic. of the CM5T, When I was at Digbeth I had to take a S12 up to Carlisle works one day and bring one back, when I got there I was told there were two to go back, an S12 and a CM5, so I jumped in the CM5 and brought that back first, when I landed at Digbeth an old coachman saw me and allmost pulled me out of it saying I had no right to be near one, never mind drive one, in later years of course they were on Whythalls etc. a pic. of me on the track at Marston Green. John.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Nice one John, remember how when you were on a wash showup there was a bus wash showup and a coach wash showup. If there was a coach to go through the wash and the coachman had gone for a tea or wee nothing moved til he got back, unless a parking driver happened to walk by and did it. The coachman wouldn't move a bus through either so as there were more buses than coaches he was on a winner. The coachmen wouldn't sit with busmen in the canteen in the summer but come winter and they were back on buswork they would!
 

john70

master brummie
Hi. Mike. One coachman I could allways get on with was Dicky Bow Fred, he lived if I am correct somewhere in Hall Green, seem to remember picking him up a few times when I was at Yardley Wood on the 91s.
 

john70

master brummie
Here's a few Digbeth photos from my stock - I spent a large chunk of my working life there and collected more than a few for my collection.
Firstly Prototype CM6 5295 which was originally a 36' long version of the C5 complete with 'lantern' windscreen. This coach had a 10.5 litre turbocharged engine and an overdrive gearbox, and when on test at the Road Research Laboratory circuit at Nuneaton recorded 145MPH. At the Transport Ministry's insistence the turbocharger was removed and it could only do 95 MPH afterwards!
Second, CM5T (the T stood for 'Toilet - the rear nearside corner windows are opaque to provide light yet privacy) 4805 leaves Digbeth for London, having just turned right from Mill Lane across the dual carriageway to head south.
Third, S12 3738 prepares to take up service on one of the busy routes operated by this garage.
Finally in 1997 two visiting National Express coaches park on the yard created by the demolition of the former engineers offices and depot canteen (upstairs) on the Rea Street side of the building. The recovery truck, a 1947 ex-army AEC Matador gun tractor bought in the 50s given a new body made of a selection of bus and coach components in 1960 sits alongside. This vehicle now lives at Wythall museum in the colours of its next (after Midland Red) owner, North Birmingham Busways. I drove it once under Midland Red ownership, to assist an engineer who couldn't manage its 'crash' gearbox, and when I worked for NBB I drove it several more times recovering buses a fifth of its age when they broke down!
Great picture of the patch Lloyd. thanks. John.
 

Lloyd

master brummie
That's how the patch was when I first went to Digbeth in 1973, John. The house was soon vacated and demolished to extend the patch, then later the new engineering dock was built on the ground. It had been cattle pens fro the market before.
 

gibbo2005

master brummie
Hello To all
I am ex midland red driver assistant foreman from Sutton garage I took a c5 to London empty one night in the early days of the m1 and it was fantastic passing all the cars i was at Sutton until emigrating to Australia in 1970 would love to here from anyone a friend of mine was foreman at Digbeth David Oughton
All the best Allen Gibson
 

Lloyd

master brummie
Hi gibbo2005,
I know 'Diddy' David very well, he came to Digbeth from Sutton, was one of only two engineers who moved on to the 'New' Digbeth, (when we operated from the bull Ring Bus Station), then went to North Birmingham Busways where I rejoined him 6 years later. He's at Green Bus, Oldbury now and I think if he comes to Aussie again he will stay there, he liked it so much when he went on holiday!
Here he and Malcolm Parry work on an engine at Sutton - they were both much younger then of course. Malcolm has retired now but I see them both from time to time at local old bus rallies at Wythall or Witton museums.
 

john70

master brummie
Hi. Lloyd. Thats how the patch was in !964 as well, and as probably taken around then with the LD8s and S12 there, wonder if Mike knows who the bloke is talking to the driver?. bet he does, LOL.
 

motorman-mike

Brum visitor who stayed.
Sorry John, you've got me there! He might have been just before my time going by the service stars on his arm. The coach driver you mentioned was "Old Nick" Nicholson who did live at Hall Green. His gimmick was the wearing of a dicky bow and giving the "chefs" sign with the fingers of his right hand against the glass of his windscreen when passing another Red or Stratford Blue unless it was a thumb down for an inspector about. The bow tie went back to when he beat the panel as a coach driver on the old TV gameshow "What's my Line" - the chefs sign was part of the mime they did to give the panel a clue to the job. It followed a mime of changing gears and holding a steering wheel. After beating the panel, personality Gilbert Harding (no relation to Reg) asked Nick "whats all this finger business about then?" to which Nick replied "well sir, it's the internationally known sign of coach drivers to each other that all is well along the road". Nick would then tell you with a laugh that he had made that up himself! He sank many a pint on that story. Nick went on the PTE in '73 and ended up at Acocks Green on the Outer Circle. I think he may have retired when it went one man.

Meanwhile back on the patch... with Parking Driver Bert Rawlins car ignoring the notice above it as usual!
 

Dave P

master brummie
Thanks Alf, there wasn't much that could pass those in '59 when the M1 opened and many a car engine was blown up trying. We could cruise at 80 and still have some in reserve! Got a pic here of me leaving London with a later CM6T after they were refurbished. That destination box cost us a good 10mph in a strong headwind. (Sorry my scanner has messed up the grille a bit)


According to someone close (hello Dad) he drove an experimental BMMO coach down the M1 in the early 60's and easily topped 100mph! Needless to say Carlisle Works detuned it for production.
Dave P
 

john70

master brummie
Hi. Mike. Thanks for the info about "old Nick", now you have reminded me I do remember him being at Acocks Green, thats the time I was at Yardley Wood, "late73-74". I was on the 90 and 91 sheet and enjoyed it while it was 2 man but not so much when that finished. Your tales about Reg Harding changing bus numbers on the garage allocation sheet to get an LD8 reminds me our kid and me allways had a rubber and pencil with us to change numbers and swop buses if there was a better one in garage. Regards. John.
 
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