By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
Midland Red were a major bus group here in the UK serving the Midlands from 1905 until 1981. It was one of the largest groups in the UK covering a territory from Gloucester in the south-west to Derby to its North West and encompassing the industrial west and east midlands. It’s buses and coaches were a well known sight even in the cities where municipal operators dominated local services as Midland Red provided almost all the inter-urban routes and most of the local routes in smaller towns in the area.
One curious feature of Midland Red is that it made its own buses between 1923 and 1969 when it was swallowed by the National Bus Company. The combination of the solid red livery and its uniquely styled BMMO buses made Midland Red services stand out.
The BMMO D9 was introduced in the late 1950s and served the company well with the final examples leaving the works in the mid 1960s and being in service until the wholesale replacement with Leyland Nationals during the ownership of MIdland Red by the National Bus Company. It was early to provide electric closing doors and disk brakes all round, though later models had drums fitted and these were also retro fitted to the earlier buses. This was because though the disks worked well the pads wore out extremely quickly and were worn before the standard service interval was completed. In other ways the D9 was the end of an era with its half cab for the driver and conductor operation at a time when municipal fleets were introducing one man operation and rear engined Leyland Atlantians and Daimler Fleetlines.
The model shown in this article is a model from the Atlas Great British Buses series sold in the UK which has now ended and surplus stock has now ended up in the hands of wholesalers. The base has Corgi printed on it which shows that Atlas had it made for them from Corgi dies. Corgi produced this model in their Original Omnibus range in Midland Red and West Midlands Public Transport Executive colours, WMPTE took over many Midland Red routes in the Black Country to the west of Birmingham when the new West Midlands county was formed. The Corgi Midland Red buses were on service D9 to Dudley, X35 Hereford to Ludlow, and the WMPTE one on service 130 Stourbridge to Halesowen. When Atlas had their model made made they moved over to the over side of the MIdland Red operation with the 658 service to Leicester via Nuneaton which started its journey in Coventry at Pool Meadow Bus Station.
The Atlas model is fundamentally the same as the Corgi one and includes all the wing mirrors , blind winding handles, and grab handles that were used on the OOC versions. It is a good model though the plastic front panel insert used to portray the BMMO radiator is not a complete colour match and tends to slide in its setting more than it should. The alloy framed windows are nicely printed and the rear sliding doors well made. The printed adverts are nice period touches too. All in all it captures well the buses that I saw when young sitting at Pool Meadow ready for the journey to Leicester surrounded by Coventry Transport Daimler Fleetlines doing the local journeys.
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