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Miller St the last bus to dpart was...


master brummie

A day in the life of a Bus Garage, or
The Last Bus to Depart...

If the former Tram and Bus garage in Miller St could talk what tales would it tell? Miller street tram garage opened up in 1904 as a tram depot, now history does not tell us the fleet number of the first tram to go into Miller street or the name of the driver of the tram , what is known is the fleet number of the last bus ever to depart the building and the drivers name, more of which later,

What we do know is that before the tram depot was built in 1900 there were the following businesses for that year were in Miller St,

beer retailers 3
dress maker 1
lamp manufacturer 1
draper 1
shopkeepers 5
printer 1
rubber stamp maker 1
newsagent 1
coal dealers 2
frame maker 1
dairy man 2
grocer 1

What was Miller St st like when the tram depot opened, the road was a lot longer for a start, sometime in the recent past the road was shortened to make way for the Aston Distress-way, and is now about one third shorter than it original

In a 1905 directory there were in Miller Street,

shopkeepers 5
beer retailers 4
Straw dealer 1
apartments 2
lamp manufactures 1
Drapers 1
dress maker 1
green grocers 3
painters 1
builders 1
newsagents 1
coal dealers 1
tobacconists 1
eating houses 1
milliners 1
furniture removers 1

In the early 1940,s the permanent Way department
appears in the directorys in Miller St this was opposite the tram sheds and today is the driver training department
and other offices,

On Saturday 6th July 1953 the tram depot was 49 years old, tram car 616 was the last Birmingham tram to run on normal service it would appear that there was a crowd of people to see the last tram as it was the end of the tram era at Miller St and a new one for the omnibus, and that era was to last for another 55 years, when the building was then sold on to new owners,

One of the problem when converting a tram depot to a bus garage is that the tram depot was not designed for the Omnibus, I do not not know if fans were ever fitted at Miller St to clear the fumes when the buses started up in the morning one of the problem at miller St is that there is no through draft so that any smoke or fumes tend to hang in the air, when a tram starts up to go out on route the fumes from it would have been at a minimum the same cannot be said for the omnibus I did witness this when a small number of Metrobuses were started up in readiness to be moved out of the former tram shed to be driven to the former Permanant Way yard it can decribed as a blue fog just sitting there taking a long time to disperse,

It has been said that when Coventry road tram and trolley bus garage was converted to the buses the canteen was which was on an upper level but had to be moved to a lower level because of the fumes from the buses just the thing you do not need a bacon sanwich with deisel fumes when the trams and the trolley buses were there, there were no fumes,

Over the years the the neighbours in miller St had changed a check in the 1955 directory shows that there were this is at a time when the trams had finished and there were buses at the garage in Miller street were the following businesses,

Shopkeepers 4
public houses 1
electric engineers 1
midwife's 2
mill 1
gas fitting makers 1
beer retailers 2
newsagents 1
drapers 1
grocer 1
press workers 1
tubler steel furniture makers 1
haulage contractors 1

what can be seen is the the small
business are moving out and the larger bushiness were moving in to Miller St,

In 1965 there was in common with a large number of streets and roads in the inner city suburbs a decrease in the number of businesses and residents this was caused demolishing large part of the city slums I do not know if Miller Street was a slum? area or just down at heel in any case there were fewer businesses in the street and of course fewer residences,

There were the following businesses in 1965

beer retailer 1
shopkeepers 5
newsagents 1
draper 1
press workers 1
haulage contractors 1
shop fitters 1
electrical conduit maker 1
midwife 1
tap and die maker 1 (still there in 2012)

In the 1974 directory it shows that life in Miller St had changed again there were now only,

press workers 1
haulage contractor 1
tap and die works one (still there is 2012)

It was in the former Permanent Way depot towards the end of the Metrobus era in one of the sheds that many a Metrobus would be parted with its engine the remains of the bus would be dragged out and any useful parts like seat frames, panels, glass, or any other parts would be taken from the bus to help keep the remainder of the Metrobus fleet on the road, the end of its working life was unceremonious,

A towing lorry would back up to the bus lift the front of the bus, its tyres would then be changed for a slave set that the scrap man had brought with him the towing lorry would then tow the bus away from Miller St up to a Barnsley scrap yard, a sad end to many a Metrobus it was always sad to see a bus being towed away from Miller St in such a way,
many of the Metrobuses still had a life left in them, a number of them were sold on to independent operators to be used again in service, and a small number were were sold on to preservationist,

When the building was 105 years old in October 2009 a For Sale banner was erected it would not take long for the building to be sold, I do not know what the original life expectation of the building was but considering that the building has seen two world wars, and a lot of changes in the area, and is the only original building still standing from 1904 has to seen as a survivor,

It also has to be said that other two former bus garages in the Birmingham area have not survived as well as Miller St, as both building have had their roofs removed, their future is not known over the years I have attended a small number of what can be called “the last day of” sometimes there have been a large affairs with a large crowd in attendance as in the case of the last day of the Routemaster on the 159 route in London in December 2005 or there have been a very small attendance so for the last day of the Metrobus on the 24 route 30 May 2009 the only one there was me and my camera,

It was sad to see the former tram and bus garage slowly being emptied of buses, and the flotsam and jetsam that had gravitated to the garage over the years I did note during this time a couple of industrial skips that left the building, as well as a skip with a small number of traffic bollards in it as well as a pallet with destination number blinds on it, as well as the usual desks and chairs soon the day of the last bus to depart came,

As previously noted on the last day of the trams in Birmingham there was a crowd to say their goodbyes to the tram was there a crowd to say goodbye to the garage... nope it was just me and my camera and I was only there by luck, it would have been nice to have say have a representative from NXWM there to say its farewell to the building the lord mayor then would have made his/her speech saying goodbye, and that it was the end of a transport era, but of course that was just in my head and did not happen what actually happened was,

On the 27.Nov.2009 was a busy day in Miller St in that Metrobus C904FON fleet number 2904 arrived on trade plates 2904 had come from West Brom garage its arrival meant that it life in service had now finished, the bus made its way into the yard, towards the back of the yard were two Metrobuses, if you were to walk up Moorsom Street you would have seen F82XOF (3082 and F49XOF (3049) in the yard, both buses were about to depart Miller St and Birmingham for the last time, both buses appear to have been intact it was the norm to see a bus being towed from Miller St missing glass or seats, both vehicles were about to be towed by PVS they would have had their tyres changed for set of slave tyres that PVS would have on the back of the towing lorry,

while this was happening in the former tram and bus garage another towing lorry this time from a firm called Mansfield was preparing to assist the penultimate bus to depart the former bus garage a Plaxton Pointer single decker registration number M117XSR fleet number 117 because 117 had and air? problem an air hose was connect to the bus from the towing lorry, it was while I watching this (from the pavement) Metrobus 3082 was towed from the yard and in to Miller St seconds later it was followed by Metrobus 3049 both buses passed Metrobus D929NDA now a training bus, this bus is a double decker but had the stairway removed and look an odd thing indeed. both F82XOF and F49XOF then were towed to barnsley were they would have been broken up,

shortly after M117XSR the bus was driven from the garage following the towing lorry, the next and last bus to depart was a Plaxton Pointer registration M118XSR fleet number 118 again a air hose had to be attached to the bus and the towing lorry,

As it took time for the air hose to be connected to 118 and because I have health issues I decided to wait in my car to rest and recover the thought was that the bus would pass me I would then get a photo of 118 sadly while I was recovering in my car the towing lorry and 118 came out of the garage and then made its way up Moorsom St insted of going up Miller St leaving me very little time to get a shot of the bus I did get a shot of the bus sadly it is of a poor quality
so who has the honour? of being the driver of the last bus to depart the former tram and bus garage I can only call him Mr B as I do not wish to embarass him,

What is not known at this time is what the last double decker to depart the garage was, all that is known it would have been a Metrobus, and so the garage was empty of any road vehicle for the first time in many years there was very little left in the former garage a fuel tank, gas canisters a small wooden pallet a few leaves a few pieces of paper,

Sometime after this day the new owners would have taken charge of the building so what state was the building in 2009, not very well is about the only way I would describe it when the building was sold one of the first things the owner did was to get rid of was a couple of small trees or bushes that was growing on the roof, next was to get rid of what can only be described as pigeon and sea gull bird .... on the roof, I do know that there was a great deal of shovelling to be done before it could be declared free from bird ...., there was a this time a large ? hole in the roof that the new owner would have to repair, the pits were filled in, amongst the thing that helped the building was that the walls were painted white this took the building to a new level, before the building was sold and was being used to store buses, trying to see what buses were in there in the dark was painful to the eyes, a steam cleaner was put to good use on the floor of the former tram and bus garage were road markings, on the floor could be seen for the first time in many years and the electric and water were reconnected there were other thigs done to help the building to many to name ,

during this time two more Metrobuses departed for Barnsley on the 4th Dec 2011 they were G122GJW (3122) and B861DOM (2861) it was always sad to see buses being towed away from the former permanent Way yard from the perspective of the PVS driver towing a bus he would have to drive through a entrance way that has its history with the trams and not double deck buses as he made his way through the what I think as a narrow entrance/exit he would hope that there was not a car parked up on the other side of the road, if this was clear he would turn to his left making certain that the bus he was towing made it was clear of the gates, having cleared the gates it would be just a case of making his way to Barnsley,

And what happened to 118 was the bus preserved for the future with a plaque saying that it was the last bus to depart Miller St bus garage, sadly this was not to be as far as I am aware the bus remained in the former permanent way yard for some months and is thought to have been towed away to a scrapyard in the black country,

A few months ago I noticed the a part of the asphalt on the roadway was worn away revealing for the first time in many years the original set or cobble stones these set stone would have first seen the horse and cart, then solid tyre vehicles and of course the pneumatic tyre vehicles, further down the road at the same time there were workmen digging a hole so I just had to look down the hole in the vain hope to see a section of tram track, the original tram track had long since been lifted but I did see tram track in Birmingham tram track was used as a sleeper or cross member and that is what I saw was couple of cross members,

So what of Miller St at the present day for many years no one has lived in Miller St, and the business have changed of the years the former tram and bus garage has now been split into units in first unit is a small engineering firm apart from making a great deal of noise I do not know what the make the second one is firm that puts new bodies on to new lorry chassis, I have not seen the doors open on the last parts, so for the foreseeable future the building will continue to be used if not for its original use, so in 2012 the building is 108 years old all I can say is happy Birthday


How can I be certain that there will not be anymore buses/trams/trolleybuses in the former tram and bus garage it was part of the agreement when the building was sold to its new owners that it could not be used as a bus garage, it would have made an ideal transport museum or is that just me thinks that?.


aston lad

master brummie
Very interesting post horsencart, I can tell you that if you look up towards Newtown Row, the building on the right hand side is still being used by National Express for their trim shop and reserve fleet, until recent days the offices were being used for the purchasing and accounts department, both have now moved out to Digbeth, as far as I know there are no plans to sell that part of the NXWM as yet, there was a rumour doing the rounds a few years back that NXWM had purchased all of Miller Street and intended to move the Perry Barr garage there, the sticking block was the factory at the top of Miller Street, couldn't find a suitable site for them or the cost of moving them, NXWM don't like to spend money,


master brummie
Thanks for posting the Miller Street History. My father worked out of the "Overhead Dept" which was next to the permanent way, opposite the tram Depot. He drove the "Tower Wagons" and Heavy Lifting Lorry, for many years before, during and after the war.
Regards ,Reg


master brummie
I used to use Miller Street Garage to catch the London Liner in the days before National Distress took over and stopped the service as I was allowed to park my car in the garage whilst I went to London.


gone but not forgotten
thanks for teling us when the last trm left miller street i was only thinking of the day the other day when you put it on ; as i found out my grand father was a tram conductor down at millr street as he lived in parliment street in his younger days as i found out on a document i received for him ;
this was before he set a bussiness for the rest of his life ; best wishes astonian ;;


Brummie babby
I remember the tram sheds being bombed during the war my brother and myself walked down there the next dayand saw ell the damaged trams there


Staff member
thanks for your post etc and welcome to the forum...

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