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The Birmingham Built Metrobus


master brummie
There are three things that are disappearing from the streets of Birmingham they are

1 Telephone boxes,
2 Public houses,
3 The Birmingham built M.C.W. Metrobus it is the last item that I wish to talk to you about today

The Metrobus could not be described as beautiful bus it does not have graceful lines as some of its predecessors , Guy Arab, Leyland PD3, just name two, and to some the engine is in the wrong place (at the rear) and the entrance is at the wrong place (at the front) its only saving grace is that it was built in Birmingham at Common Lane just off the Washwood Heath road, at the M.C.W. (Metropolitan Cammwell Weymann) works if I may talk off this works for a moment,

This factory that built in its time a fair number of buses is due in time to be demolished, it is empty at the moment the factory will be knocked down to become a large housing estate, I would love to amble around this building before it is demolished just to take a few photos before this piece of Birmingham industrial history goes for ever but enough of the factory,

When the first Metrobuses came on the scene in Birmingham 1978 They were ran by W.M.P.T.E.(West Midland. Passenger, Transport Executive) then by T.W.M Travel West Midlands ) and now by N.E.W.M. National Express West Midlands ) come back B.C.T. Birmingham City Transport) all is forgiven,
It has been said that there are only about 180 Metrobuses still in service on the roads of Birmingham if you would like to see the type of bus I am talking about then please go to https://my.bus.photos.fotopic.net/c1433945.html

National Express West Midlands have said that the Metrobus will have disappeared by 2010, the Metrobus was manufactured from 1977 until 1989 with over 4.000 example being built, there was the Mk 1 model and the Mk 2 model production of the Mk 1 continued until 1985 for London Transport, a total of 1.440 being built for London Transport, the last Metrobus in London was withdrawn in 2004,

The last Metrobus to be built was for Strathclyde Buses MB70 (G4080GD) it has been said that towards the end the buses were not built as best the production of the Metrobus stopped in 1989 with the financial collapse of MCW

So Birmingham is the last gasp of the Metrobus in any numbers a sad end and how does it rate today in 2008 not to bad some are not looking their best and in need of a repaint this will now not happen as they are all living on borrowed time and at least one a week goes to Barnsley to be scrapped the bits taken from the dead bus will go to keep the present fleet on the road things like glass, seat frames, panels and other bits and pieces,

If one breaks down you do not need a computer to tell you what is wrong with it as you do with the modern buses all you need is a good fitter, if you see a modern bus on the side of the road that is broken down the driver is possibly waiting for it to cool down as when the bus gets excited it will stop and not go on till it has cooled down ,

When the last Metrobus has left Birmingham there will be a number still in service with small independent bus operators, thankfully there are a small number that have been preserved the street of Birmingham will be a little bit sadder for the loss of the Metrobus it is hoped that there will be a last day of the Metrobus in operation day in Birmingham,

When that day dawns and the last Metrobus has gone home this will leave my with a couple of options do I then say that’s it there are no interesting buses left in Birmingham it is time to hang up my camera or do I say carry on photograph them as normal I will of course know on the day

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
Although I have a great affection for the buses I remember in Brum 50 years ago, I can't say I have much for the metrobus, although I suppose it is the last product of the old MCW works.
I can remember London Transport introducing its first Metro Scania in 1975/6 - but this was always regarded as a 'foreign' bus because of its Swedish engine and trasmission. They were not terribly successful and after a few years were sold, but when the MCW Metrobus was launched in 1977/8 LT bought a lot and ran them moreorless to the ground.
What were the differences between the original Metro-Scania and the MCW Metrobus? The body is obviously almost the same. And who provided the engine and transmission (I assume there was no chassis as such)?


master brummie
Seem to remember the Metrobus had the Leyland 500 turbo fixed head rear engine fitted, prone to overheating. Not a patch on the horizontal 680's or the horizontal AEC's.


master brummie
Most Metrobuses had the Gardner 6LXB engine, although a few were fitted with Rolls-Royce diesels instead.
As every new design comes along, we compare them with the buses of the past and say "Not a patch on them", and "They'll never last as long".
Well, they have. Many times the Birmingham municipal bus fleet has had to run vehicles 'well past their best before date', some of the 1930s AEC Regent petrols ran into the late 40s with minimal maintenance because of the war (and the trams would have gone earlier if it hadn't been for Herr Hitler), and the last 'back loaders' similarly slogged on into the ownership of the WMPTE, some clocking up 25+ years service (although the maintenance was far superior in peacetime). New buses are staggeringly expensive, and the older ones have to keep going just through affordability of replacements. The new fleets coming on line year by year seem flimsy compared to 'Standards', Fleetlines and Metrobuses but only time will tell if they manage 20+ years on Birmingham's streets. If the maintenance is good, I think they will.

Remember the 'Tracline' guided busway experiment in Streetley Road? One of the special Metrobuses is now under restoration at Aston Manor Museum.


master brummie
Sorry got mixed up with the single decker. I used to recon the 6LW's for Wolverhampton corporation transport when i worked for Ryland Garage. Used to run forever but then max revs were only 1750. Found the Rolls eagle 250 engine underpowered when used in Scammell Trunkers compared with the Leyland 680.


Brum visitor who stayed.
At the moment Metrobuses are still regularly working all day on the 18 route from Yardley Wood Garage and very reliable they are too, but not so well thought of by passengers who have come to expect kneeling platforms and wheelchair and buggy space. Officially the 18 is still a Metrobus route but for how much longer we wonder. Many of the older drivers regard the Metrobus as what the next gereration Fleetline would have been and are happier with them than the newer stuff.

Heres a Mk I Metrobus at work in New Street.


master brummie
Hi. BaMMot. Its nice to see the Stratford Blue PD2 in the background on your photo of a Metro at Whythall.About 14 years or so ago I was on holiday in South Devon and got chatting to a chap who turned out to be George Cooper who once owned C&G coaches over Leamington way, and he told me he had sold the business but still owned the Stratford Blue now at Whythall, but it had been vandalised and he didnt know what he was going to do with it, I mentioned the transport museum at Whythall to him, which he had never heard of, and not much later I heard he had died, then later I saw it appear at the museum, whether my chat with him was in any way connected with that I dont know, but pleased its in good hands now.


master brummie
It may well be, John, and if so thank you! At the time George Cooper offered the bus to Wythall Museum, he knew he hadn't got long to live and wanted it to survive, I suppose as a memorial to his achievements in this life. It will be restored, but unfortunately it's a short way down the long list of those awaiting 'The treatment' still.
The vandals had smashed every piece of glass in it, but we have acquired some replacements from a group of Yorkshire enthusiasts - the bus was originally a single decker, and rebodied to the same design as some bodies being built for the Yorkshire Woollen District company at the time, and on the frame under a panel we found 'Yorkshire' chalked on a frame member!


Brum visitor who stayed.
Without wishing to go off thread, but talking of G&G buses, has anyone a photo of a G&G Ex Midland Red Leyland LD8 working the Midland Red 159 service as they did during a Red bus shortage in the 60's. Such a photo would fit well in the 'Midland Red at Digbeth Thread'.


New Member
Hello. I worked at MCW from 1987 to the company demise in 1989. I was employed as the first technician apprentice in 16 years and I was the only apprentice in 1987-8. I was fortunate to work on the shop floor for 12 months, worked on the chasis build, engine installation, wiring, spraying, seating, trim, etc - a massive learning experience and I really enjoyed it! I will always look back fondly on MCW. Lots of interesting stories to tell, including the day I went out on a test drive and the driver took a detour home and smashed the upper deck in to a bridge!


proper brummie kid
I worked at Washwood Heath bus garage and we took delivery of prototype Metro fleet No 6831, I think from memory the bloke from MCW was Mick Chattam