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Midland Red Early Days


master brummie
Re the Mayrow all-steel body (BB262) -
I think this was a product of James Jacob Mayrow (who may have been Russian) and who held patents for motor vehicle and aircraft body construction in metal, and who was proprietor of the Aircraft Steel Construction Company, London, formed October 1917. It is thought the body was not used, recorded as delivered in 1920 and returned in 1921.
All-metal bodies were tried experimentally later, BB1952 was a Metro-Cammell body was built for 'IM' type chassis in 1932, and some of the Brush bodies for REDD type double deckers (possibly including some of the lowbridge ones for Potteries Motor traction, with offside sunken gangways to the upper saloon) had experimental metal frames as well as the batch bodied by Metro Cammell (one of which miraculously survives).


master brummie
(I’ve been having problems with the internet timing out. So I’ve been saving this up!)

James Jacob Mayrow sounds like our maker of BB262. Interesting that he was Russian (I wonder what's the Russian version of his name). Thanks Lloyd.

That precious surviving REDD (or DD(RE) as Midland Red Volume 1 prefers) you mentioned is fleet number 1418 (reg HA8047). A worthy project by the Black Country Museum Transport Group (https://www.bcmtg.co.uk/). And here (https://bmmo.fotopic.net/p15610538.html) is a nice picture illustrating the challenge. But we can see the battered old number plate as a symbol of hope (and it’s rather a nice shot of the engine).

It'll be great to see it restored to glory one day. The Wythall Museum must have all the technical specs for the REDD and there are numerous pictures to go by. I wonder if there’s any chance of it gaining MoT and going on the road?

Am I right in assuming that there is no surviving FEDD? If not it would be a personal grief as I can well remember travelling on FEDDs on service 107 Birmingham – Sutton (early 1960s - I cherished old buses even then!). I’m too young to have seen a REDD so that is somehow exotic! (Well actually I was three when the last REDD was withdrawn so I might have seen one but I don’t remember).

Now what about Hayward & Co (Wolverhampton) who downsized 17 double-deck bodies to B30F in 1929 which were (with one earlier converted at Carlyle Works) mounted on SOS type FS chassis (reg HA3513-3530 - previously with Davidson charabanc bodies) and reclassified OD type.

[Enthusiasts will be aware that there is an unfortunate confusion of nomenclature here. The Tilling-Stevens TS3 with BMMO double-deck body (1922-1924) was referred to as type FS. Then in 1926 BMMO produced an FS chassis designed for a B34F body. Both FS types were on the road in the period 1926-1928. If "FS" indeed meant "forward steering" then at least that was a feature shared by these otherwise quite different buses (I wonder what staff called them). Then in 1929 eighteen of the newer FS chassis were fitted with cut-down versions of the older FS bodies! Becoming double-FS!?!?!? OD indeed!]

Is anything known about about this Hayward & Co? I suspect it was William Hayward & Co but I can only find reference to an iron fence made by them. I presume they were capable of cutting down bus bodies under the careful guidance of Mr Shire.


master brummie
There’s another surviving vintage double-decker that served Midland Red during World War 2. That’s 1930 London Transport (ex-Thomas Tilling) AEC Regent ST-661 fleet number ST922 (reg GJ2098). This venerable H27/25RO (open staircase) bus graced the streets of Birmingham and the Midlands between December 1941 and October 1944 (already in honorable retirement with LT it was hired by BMMO to cope with wartime conditions).

It is preserved (fully restored and operational) by the London Bus Preservation Trust Ltd at the Cobham Bus Museum (https://www.lbpt.org/st922.html). With almost three years service in the Midlands it must have been a frequent but remarkable sight in (presumably) LT livery. Peter W has posted memories of these buses on another thread (https://forum.birminghamhistory.co.uk/showthread.php?t=3152) where he remembers one of them as reg GJ2026 (which officially was on hire to Harper Brothers between December 1941 and September 1944 – but no doubt these vehicles were fairly freely exchanged). I would love to see ST922 back on the streets of Birmingham (on the 107 or further afield on the 144 for that matter). A wonderful way to enhance a WW2 commemoration or re-enactment.

Hardy’s BMMO Volume2 (pages 55-57) gives a surprisingly full list of vehicles hired from other operators by Midland Red during WW2. Some of these were sub-let to Stratford Blue or passed quickly on to Coventry (a very needy neighbour!) Does anyone know their allocations, or of any pictures in Midland Red service?


master brummie
2010-03-25 18:46:31

Let’s stick with WW2 for a while (we’re not strictly bound by chronology after all!). Midland Red was a lender as well as a borrower. Suspension of tours and long-distance services at the outbreak of war in 1939 left Midland Red with a number of surplus coaches. The newest ones (31 LRRs and 25 OLRs) were converted to buses (B34F) in 1940-1941. The older coaches (47 RRs and two SRRs) were loaned to “poor relation” Potteries Motor Traction Co Ltd (PMT) in early summer of 1940. Though officially returned in the period 1942-1944 many were in fact broken up or sold by PMT. Just two RRs returned to Midland Red service after the war (on stage carriage work at Evesham). Nine QLC coaches were hired to PMT for the period Oct 1940 to Apr 1943).

Strange to relate, but Midland Red proceeded to hire the entire coach fleet (four 1936 Leyland TSs with Harrington C26F bodies) of Majestic Express Motors Ltd (owned since fairly new in 1933 jointly by BMMO and North Western Road Car Co Ltd (NWRC)) in the period Jun 1941 to 1944/1945. Two of these were sublet to Stratford Blue Motors Ltd and stayed there until returned to NWRC in 1950 (having been rebodied with the others to C32F in 1946).

Here’s a 1933 picture of a Majestic Express poster (https://www.yellowaymuseum.com/other_3.htm) and a photograph of 1933 AEC Regal-662 (reg PJ2300 or PJ2343). [From the excellent Yelloway Museum (https://www.yellowaymuseum.com/).]


master brummie
2010-03-25 20:11:44

On the subject of Robert Walter Cramp (who has become quite well known to us now!). Here’s the text of the "Bank Holiday" notice reproduced on the rear paste-down endpaper of Midland Red Volume 1 ("<" marking end of line):

The Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co Ltd. < (The Birmingham and Midland Tramways Joint Committee.) < BANK HOLIDAY < ON MONDAY, < The First Omnibus will arrive in Town about 9.30 am, and the Last will leave as on Saturdays. < INCREASED SERVICES will run each day from NEW STREET < ON < HAGLEY ROAD for WARLEY WOODS & LIGHTWOODS PARK, < HARBORNE for BOTANICAL GARDENS, and QUEEN’S PARK < EVERY FEW MINUTES. < KING’S HEAD (Bearwood) for QUINTON, < COLLEGE ROAD (Sparkhill) for SHIRLEY, < EVERY TEN MINUTES. < Special Omnibuses will leave Dale End for < EARLSWOOD, < Sunday 2-15, 2-45, 3-15 & 3-45 pm. Monday 10-15 & 11-15 am, 12-15, 12-45, 1-15, 1-45, 2-15, 2-45, 3-15 & 3-45 pm. Saturday, Tuesday & Wednesday 2-15 & 2-45 pm. < STONEBRIDGE, At 2-55 pm. COLESHILL, At 3-5 pm. < Each day (Saturday Excepted). < 1/6 Return Fare 1/6 < The Company’s Well known Four-in-hand Coaches < "TALLY-HO", "MAGNET", "TAN-TIV-Y". < Can be hired for pleasure parties on Moderate Terms. < ALSO SMART CHAR-A-BANCS, PRIVATE OMNIBUSES, &c. < QUOTATIONS CAN BE OBTAINED FROM ANY OF THE COMPANY’S OFFICIALS. < Omnibus Offices – 65, Tennant Street, Off Broad Street. Telephone No. 971 Midland. R. W. CRAMP, General Manager.

How closely can we date this document? Clearly Cramp is signing this notice in his capacity as General Manager of Birmingham & Midland Tramways Co Ltd (BMT) and hence of the Birmingham & Midland Tramways Joint Committee (BMTJC). Now when BMMO began operations on 1 Aug 1905 its affairs were managed by BMTJC (with O C Power as Traffic Manager). The notice seems to be referring to horse omnibus services only (what do you think Lloyd?). So perhaps the notice dates from between 5 Oct 1907 (when Midland Red gave up on motor buses for a while) and June 1911 (when Cramp retired from BMT). O C Power was signing notices as Traffic Manager from very early on (see the "Horse Contract Department" notice on the rear free endpaper of Midland Red Volume 1). So perhaps the "Bank Holiday" notice belongs to the early part of the 1907-1911 period. What do others think?

Do the telephone numbers provide a clue? "971 Midland" on the "Bank Holiday" notice and "2371 Midland" on the "Horse Contract Department" notice.
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master brummie
The Tilling-Stevens TS3 FS types were the first major vehicle constructions under the auspices of Mr. Wyndham Shire, who took the opportunity of buying many TS3 Army lorries from the military sales after WW1.

Shire’s early patent for bus body design (having the entrance alongside the driver, who was able to see and control boarding and alighting, a central gangway through the bus to the rear, where a door for emergency exit was positioned – a design still often used today) was modified to maximise (paying) passenger capacity. The driving position was moved forward alongside the engine, and replaced by a very compact staircase. The saloon roof was of ‘camel-back’ appearance, the ‘hump’ giving headroom over the gangway and being the support for back-to-back seating above.
These bodies were designed from the outset to be convertible to single deck if required, and as you know this later happened to modify some SOS FS models from charabancs to buses. The rebuilds were considerably different to just removing the upper deck walls and seating, however, and the floor level was higher to the body side, necessitating a new roof, far more domed than any other SOS saloons had.
I don’t know much about Hayward & Co, and assume they were a small-time coachbuilder who had the facilities to dismantle and rebuild the ‘knifeboard’ d/d bodies and rebuild them. I don’t suppose any of the main bodybuilders were interested in the work, or would have charged the same or more than building new. Similarly the company’s body workshop at Carlyle Road was heavily in use constructing new and overhauling existing bodies for the growing fleet.

Tilling-Stevens must have been involved with the redesign of the TS3 to forward control, as they classed such designed vehicles as ‘TS3Z’ or ‘Birmingham Type’ (for obvious reasons) and actually built some themselves.

The similar modification to the first SOS design (itself a modification of the Tilling-Stevens TS3, which tilling referred to as TS4) of moving the driver forward to make room for more passengers was to lead on to a longer version, the Q, and so on through the range of designs over the years. Official designations were the year of design, so staff would know that a ‘1923 SOS’ was a different beast from a ‘1923 TS3’.

Tilling-Stevens built the early SOS chassis for BMMO, and even used some themselves or sold them as TS4s, but only as lorries. BMMO must have held the design patent for bus applications. (Some Thomas Tilling operated TS4s did carry bus bodies, but only at the end of their lives. Previously they had been garage lorries.)


master brummie
Thanks for that great information Lloyd. I'll rejoin the discussion tomorrow (it's getting on for bedtime here).


master brummie
On the subject of AEC Regent ST 922 which ran from Digbeth during the second war, it is amazing that the surviving Birmingham Corporation AEC Regent OV 4486, now at Wythall, was lent to London Transport under a similar arrangement in their time of need!

Sadly there are no remaining FEDD types. One did survive into early preservation, Trent Motor Traction RC 3333, identical to the BMMO ‘BHA’ series, but sadly this was lost when an early preservation group in the east midlands foundered.
That batch of FEDDs was actually intended to be the BHA series, but Trent MT was in desperate need so they were completed in Trent Livery, and replacements sourced for the BMMO ones. A study of the chassis number lists shows this.

Re the bank holiday notice – I believe it to be from the days of reversion to horse operation, after the initial motor experiment failed.


master brummie
My internet has been down for a few days (the whole of Tasmania is affected for some reason) and is still slow.

It's a shame about the complete demise of the FEDD (what a resonant registration RC3333 would be!). But really it's a credit to preservationists that we have so many fine vehicles preserved. Perhaps the two museums could exchange GJ2098 and OV4486 for a while as a reminder of the unusual conditions of WW2!
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master brummie
2010-03-27 10:16:29

Here (https://colingittins8905.fotopic.net/p7776967.html) is a lovely Colin Gittins picture of Trent Motor Traction FEDD fleet number 1011. I can’t quite make out the reg but it may indeed be RC3333. Can you discern it Lloyd? It looks brand spanking new in this shot.

And here (https://www.search.staffspasttrack.org.uk/engine/resource/default.asp?theme=245&originator=%2Fengine%2Ftheme%2Fdefault.asp&page=5&records=97&direction=1&pointer=11481&text=0&resource=737) is a fascinating picture of a Potteries Electric Traction Co Ltd (PET) Standard SOS in a spot of bother in Staffordshire in 1927. The poor little van’s engine has ended up wedged under the engine of the bus, lifting the front of the bus a few inches up off the road! The onlooking “bus spotters” add interest to the picture.

For the enthusiast: it's BMMO fleet number 420 (EH4945 SOS standard chassis on Tilling-Stevens frame number 4025 with Brush B32F body new in 1924). I don’t know the PET fleet number (can anyone tell me?) Although it spent its whole life with PET it was assigned a Midland Red fleet number presumably because the Tilling-Stevens frames for this 1924 batch were logged in to Midland Red “for conversion to SOS”. Hardy’s BMMO Volume 1 records it with Davidson 32-seat charabanc body (number C35) and reg EH5148. I suspect that the chassis was equipped with either body depending on requirements.

And finally (for now!) here (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigpicture2008/2622544351/) is a lovely picture of early Midland Red conductor “Grandad James”. I assume it is a conductor’s uniform he’s wearing. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
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master brummie
Yes, Trent 1011 was RC 3333. That bus could be at Wythall now, if only....
'Grandad James' is indeed in early conductor's uniform, complete with straw hat.
Now, EH 4945. Yes, I've seen that view before but never checked on the vehicle's details - now there is a gap in my list of "SOS supplied to PMT" lists, being no 48 (EH 4945) SOS Standard with Brush B32F body, and coach 55 (EH 5148) is listed as 'chassis intended to be no 48'. I also have no chassis details for one of the batch of bus bodies, BB 385/6, 390-8. I suspect 48 (EH 4945) in the picture carried body BB 392 (assuming they were allocated in registration no order) but on which chassis?
Coach body C35 was new 1923, between a batch for BMMO (C24-34) and another for Northern General (C36-41), so what is going on? If the bus was brand new, I could believe it had gone back for chassis rebuild and had returned as a coach instead, but the view is dated 1927 and the registration of the van is in between two batches of IM4s supplied to PMT, VT 5100 and VT 6151 onwards, so the date fits. I'll have to sit down with a clear head and sort through the lists.
PMT did swap bodies around, involving Tilling, SOS and Daimler chassis, so C35 could have sat on a Tilling or Daimler chassis for a while, then been swapped when the chassis of the damaged bus in the picture was rebuilt. Keeping registration numbers with bodies was fairly common before the 1931 traffic act.

Incidentally, you will have noticed that the PSV circle list drawn up by Peter Hardy is in 'A' number order, as these numbers became the fleet numbers after 1944. However, I have made my own lists up in registration no order, and they make far more sense. The lists in the Grey/Keeley/Seale books also follow this order, although are much simplified to save space.


master brummie
2010-03-27 16:24:04

That was very clever of you Lloyd, using the VT registration of the van to pin down the date of the picture of EH4945 (the dates on these “local history” photos are not always very accurate). Hardy states: “A420 was originally allocated registration EH4945 but finally appeared as EH5148” and that chara body C35 (which he dates to 1924) was “delivered direct to Potteries”. I wish he'd said what he meant by "finally". He doesn’t give body allocations for “exported” SOS chassis (except for this 1924 batch). Good luck with your investigations: I would love to clear up yet another mystery!

I agree with you (and Gray/Keeley/Seale) that registration number order makes more sense than the “A” number (which after all originated as Midland Red chief accountant H S Fear’s “asset number”). Especially for these early years. I proved that to myself when I looked into the OD conversions: the “A” numbers are all over the place but the registrations are neatly in sequence. Incidentally, isn’t “Fear” a good name for an accountant?!?!

I love all these arcane details!


master brummie
2010-03-28 09:11:52

The 1924 Batch of SOS Standard.

[Forgive me Lloyd for restating some of your information from previous posts. I’m just trying to clarify a pretty complex situation.]

A total of 62 chassis were made in 1924 by BMMO on Tilling-Stevens frames (T-S frame numbers 4001-4062) for the following operators:

39 for BMMO (reg HA2354-2392);
12 for Potteries (reg EH4940-4945, EH5149-5153, EH5606);
6 for Peterborough Electric Traction Co Ltd (reg FL3948-3949, FL3951-3954);
4 for Llandudno Coaching and Carriage Co Ltd (reg CC4537-4539, CC4816);
1 for Northern General Transport Co Ltd (reg PT3422).

Also in 1924 a total of 68 suitable bodies were made:

62 bus bodies (B32F) by Brush Electrical Engineering Co Ltd (Loughborough) to which BMMO assigned body numbers BB343-404. [Actually 12 of these (BB370-381) were assembled by BMMO from Brush parts.]
6 charabanc bodies (Ch32) by Davidson (who were Davidson and where were they based?) with body numbers C30-35.

These 68 bodies were supplied as follows:

44 to BMMO (BB343-368, BB370-382, C30-34);
13 to Potteries (BB383, BB385-386, BB390-398, C35);
6 to Peterborough (BB399-404);
4 to Llandudno (BB369, BB 384, BB387-388);
1 to Northern (BB389).

Observe that BMMO received 5 more bodies than chassis and Potteries received 1 “extra” body.

Hardy gives full details of the allocation of BMMO bodies to BMMO chassis. This reveals what happened to the 5 “extra” bodies: 4 (BB377, BB379-381) were held back and mounted on chassis from the 1925 batch. And one body (BB358) was not initially allocated to a chassis. [It was soon used but I’m ignoring later body changes in this analysis.] So that accounts completely for the BMMO situation.

For “outside” operators Hardy gives a conjectural allocation (except that BB389 clearly went on Northern PT3422 and he assigns BB369 to Llandudno CC4816). He assigns bodies in order of registration numbers for each operator (meticulously marking each such body number with a question mark). The exception is Potteries EH4945 to which he unequivocally allocates C35. To the other 11 Potteries chassis he allocates BB383, BB385-386, BB390-397 (in registration order) leaving BB398 unallocated.

So Potteries has an extra body but we don’t really know which bodies were allocated to which chassis (even which chassis carried the charabanc body). And from what Lloyd discovered Potteries had 13 (not 12) of the 1924 SOS Standards on its books (the 12 registrations given above plus EH5148).

I hope I’ve made things a little clearer (my head’s spinning!). There’s still a mystery as regards Potteries. Over to you Lloyd!!!
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Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
My goodness, we are learning an awful lot on this thread. It is amazing what discussion can do to sort out facts. This is one of the strengths of this forum.
Keep up the good work! Peter


master brummie
Thanks for that Peter W. At least three people are interested in this wonderful subject! It's quite amazing how a photograph can galvanize the grey matter.


master brummie
Right. When I were a lad....(sorry, watched the Monty Python 'four yorkshiremen' sketch again today!)

I agree with all of your notes, which must infer that EH 4945 (the bus in the crash pic) and EH 5148 are the same chassis - except there were no time machines, and the 'bus' version wasn't damaged until c 1927 - so the chara body was either stored by PMT (seems a waste of an asset, so unlikely) or put on a different chassis (Tilling or Daimler Y) until the damaged chassis was rebuilt. What happened to the bus body? It doesn't look damaged, did it go onto a Tilling or Daimler chassis? or was there another chassis not accounted for (Mr Fear is turning in his grave now), un-numbered like the first three SOS ones? Again, unlikely. The 'other chassis' option is the best bet for my money.
Remember that Daimler Y chassis 5363 had been registered HA 1655 (the first HA registration in the fleet) and went to PMT (or PET as they were then, still running trams) with a Tilling body (BB 254), and that SOS S bodies displaced when the new ODD bodies came went onto earlier TS3 chassis, proving that Tilling / SOS / Daimler body changes were possible. (As were Leyland, if we include the Worcestershire Brush B29R bodies, one of which (BB99) went to PMT in 1924 - but this is leading down a different road!)
I used to have a Potteries fleet list, but glory knows where it is now, so I can't check that (above) out.


master brummie
2010-03-28 12:45:32

That's good Lloyd (cardboard box? you were lucky!). I quite agree that Potteries wouldn't have let the Davidson chara body lie idle. It's more likely that one of the bus bodies would be kept as a spare (even that seems a bit wasteful for Potteries - your "other chassis" theory makes a lot of sense). Does anyone out there have a Potteries fleet list (or preferably a detailed fleet history complete with chassis and body numbers) so we can clear this up? Sadly Peter Gould's excellent website (https://www.petergould.co.uk/local_transport_history/) doesn't include Potteries (or any of the companies supplied by Midland Red). However Llandudno (Royal Blue Motor Services) passed to Crosville in 1931 and I've been looking at PG's Crosville fleet list for vehicles of Midland Red origin. More to come.


master brummie
There were spare bodies - more bodies than chassis actually, because they were separated at overhaul and bodies took longer to do than chassis. The 'Peter Hardy' history lists most of the early body changes, by year, but actually more detailled data exists down to months in most cases. Many years ago I manually drew up a BB list and where the bodies went (why wasn't there home computers and spreadsheet programmes available then?) and it proved most interesting to do.

On the subject of SOS chassis, how about this one?


master brummie
Thanks Lloyd. That BB list must have taken you a while. I've got most of the Hardy volumes in tabular form on my computer which is really helpful (I'm constantly cross-checking to discover errors and other anomalies and points of interest). It took ages but was a labour of love. I'm adding references to pictures to my fleet list (I've just finished referencing those in Midland Red Volume 1). It's surprising how many good quality Midland Red pictures are to be found on the internet (not to mention some of decidedly inferior quality - but beggars can't be choosers!).

Your picture of a QLC chassis is fine. Was it taken at Carlyle Works?

There's some interesting stuff in Peter Gould's Crosville fleet list re Llandudno (Royal Blue). Also we should talk some more about that Daimler you mentioned (HA1655). More to come (it's lunchtime!).