WHEELS / Midland Red Coaches
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Weddings and Partnerships, Funeral Services, Bus Driver Experiences
(updated 12th April 2013)
Our Unique Charabanc Bus in New BBC Drama "The Village"
A new historic drama series starts on BBC1 on Easter Sunday at 9pm. "The Village" is about the life, antics, and gossip of the working class in a classic Derbyshire village - it's full of excitement, sadness and the unexpected. It begins with the young lads of the village being taken away to fight in World War One, and follows the families through their lives and ensuing decades. The scripts are terrific and are written by Bafta-winning Peter Moffat. The story is based on the memories of the village's eldest inhabitant Bert Middleton, that are played out through the series.
It is expected to be a long-running drama, and has some well known actors including John Simm and Maxine Peake. It is sure to be on your Sunday night viewing list from Easter Sunday!
Our unique Charabanc bus features in a number of episodes so keep an eye open for it! Watch a short video clip by clicking the image on the right.
The theme tune is sung by Beck Goldsmith, and you can listen to it and view the current TV trailer for the series on her website.
You can find out more about the series on the BBC's "The Village" web site, and there are more details in this article in the Independent newspaper, and also this Guardian article.
URGENT - Anything "Midland Red" on cine film WANTED.
Anyone with cine film of any format showing any aspect of Midland Red - their buses and coaches, the garages or works, the staff, the Midland Red Orchestra or Choir, in fact anything Midland Red - Please get in touch !
We have assembled the basis of a new documentary which will show many aspects of The friendly Midland Red and the people who made it the most exciting and second-largest bus company in the UK.
We would also like to talk to / interview any ex Midland Red staff of any rank, who started work for the company up until 1980. We will arrange to come to your area to talk to you and record your memories at a convenient time. We have an opportunity to record the memories of the last generation of Midland Red workers - please help us to keep the memories of Midland Red for future generations to enjoy.
We particularly want to speak with Engineers; any workers from Central Works, Midland House, or Bearwood; Motorway Express Coach Drivers, and members of the Midland Red Concert Orchestra.
Please email Ashley or George on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02476 633624 or 077 3388 4914
What do you know about The Midland Red? We can talk to your Group.
Midland Red - Bigger than you ever imagined! It was once the largest bus company in the country outside of London. Midland Red not only operated buses and coaches over a large area of the country, but they designed and built their own vehicles from the floor up. They were always the talk of the other manufacturers as the Midland Red designs were so advanced.
They were also a very large employer (8000), and had a big family feel, and an even wider social side with inter-garage sports events. Rather like the old Cadbury factory in Birmingham, everyone really felt part of the "Midland Red" family. There were 3 Hostels with Matrons, garages had good canteen facilities, and there were Staff Officers too - it was run along Military lines so everyone knew where the boundaries were!
The manufacturing plant in Birmingham was one of the most advanced in Europe, yet the Research and Development was rather primitive - but worked perfectly well. Midland Red developed and built the fastest coaches, and built their buses and coaches since the early 1950s without chassis and with one-peice fibreglass roofs and with suspension made of rubber. The once-vast Midland Red is no more, and what remains is a shadow of its former self. But what happened? Why was it called "Midland Red"? Why didn't it buy buses instead of making its own? And why didn't the "empire" survive?
If you are part of a regular meeting group who have, or would like day trips out, and are looking for a speaker for your guests, Midland Red Coaches can help. We can arrange to speak to your meeting, whether a small Church group, Rotary or Probus Club, Womens Institute or Business Networking groups. Midland Red's history is so varied that each talk can easily be tailored to suit any type of group, ladies and gentlemen, as a Breakfast meeting or an after dinner talk, etc. No two talks are the same, as are tailored to your audience. It can be technically based, or can include social and industrial history. A small charge is made depending on the subject and length and on the location of the venue etc.
Midland Red Talks available:
Bigger than you Ever Imagined - A more full and general historical talk. (90mins to 2hrs plus)
This is a comprehensive look over the most interesting 90 years of bus history in the Midlands.
A Busman's Dream of Home - The Story of the D9 red double decker,the most popular post-war Midland Red bus. (30-45mins)
The Friendly Midland Red - Social History over 12,000 square miles of the Midlands. (45-90mins)
"Never to be Repeated" - The development and operation of Midland Red's 100mph Motorway Coaches (30-60mins)
The Story of Carlyle Works and Post War Vehicle Developments - The story of the most advanced and successful designs and the building of buses and coaches in Birmingham during and since WW2. (45-90mins)
Painting the Midlands Red - How Midland Red became the UK's biggest provincial bus operator. (30-60mins)
The Midland Red Way - The story of one of the very best Bus Driver Training Schools. (45-90mins)
Question and Answer sessions can be added to any of the above talks. The Speaker has personal knowledge of many aspects of Midland Red's activities, and has stories handed down from working colleagues and ex-employees from Management, Engineering, Traffic and Training sections of the Company going back to before the war. The speaker will set the scene, and usually end by explaining how Midland Red Coaches and WHEELS Heritage continue to keep the history and traditions of Midland Red alive for future generations to enjoy.
Get in touch with any further enquiries. Email us at email@example.com
Extracare has been a long-time friend of WHEELS Heritage - we first worked for them in 1993. This now countrywide organisation takes great care of its residents and has a wide social programme. Obviously in 2012 it was important to consider the Olympics and they have organised their own Torch Run between many of the Extracare locations from the North to the South of England. We are involved in a number of these events, and the pictures above show the first of these. Everyone entered into the spirit, and the costumes depicted some famous characters from the Potteries area.
A 30th Anniversary Outing !
A repeat hire for a Greatworth family. Two years ago we provided transport for their daughter's Prom run; now it was the turn of Mum and Dad to have a classic coach trip on the occasion of their 30th Wedding Anniversary in May. They were joined by friends and colleagues for a special day out to The Plow at Speen. It's a very rural country restaurant with a very high standard of cuisine, and being only an hour from London it has top-chef quality without the Capital price tag. The weather on the day was glorious and allowed the party to be both inside and outside of the restaurant. A great way to celebrate 30 Happy Years.
TELEVISION STUDIO ON BOARD.
Parked in the Backstage area of the Dot2Dot Music Festival in Rock City, Nottingham, our classic Bristol was going nowhere as indicated in the destination blind specially requested by the organisers! The classic coach was used as a TV Studio for the second year running at this festival.
The pictures show the Classic Bristol coach sitting in Talbot Street, Rock City, and an inside shot of the coach showing the Producer, Runner, Sound, Cameras, the Interviewer and artist.
More George Eliot Historical Tours
Over the last couple of years and around the 150th anniversary celebrations of some of her writings, there has been a general increase in interest in the life and times of George Eliot. These tours really are involved and in depth, but at the same time inviting and accomodating to everyone. These days start at the one-time home of George Eliot, Griff House, now a hotel on the outskirts of Nuneaton. Here the group assemble and enjoy coffee with John Burton whose knowledge and interest in the writings and stories of George Eliot really come across to everyone with great interest and humour. John who is Chairman of the George Eliot Fellowship, appeared on BBC's The One Show when the cameras came to Nuneaton to do a fascinating 5 minute article highlighting George Eliot's Story.
Itineraries can vary accourding to the group, but there is usually a visit to the old School and Church at Chilvers Coton (Middlemarch), then on to see the location of the George Eliot statue at Riversley Park, and Nuneaton's Parish Church. Then possibly the main highlight of the day is a tour of Arbury Hall, the most wonderful home of Lord Daventry and sadly not often open for viewing, so this is a very priviliged opportunity to explore both the hall and the unfolding of the history of the George Eliot. Arbury Hall is George Eliot's Cheveral Manor. Lunch is sometimes taken at Arbury, an on other occasions at the exceptional Astley Book Farm (which has collections of George Eliot's work), or at Coton Heritage Centre.
From Arbury we visit South Farm (a private location on the Arbury Estate, where George Eliot was born); then it's off to explore Astley Church (Knebley) where there are often readings of George Eliot, before returning to Griff House for a resume of the day.
Departure in Style
The funeral of Northamptonshire Transport Enthusiast James Butlin on 5th March 2012 gave a clear view of his interests. He was involved the the local Constabularly as a Special; he commentated at most of the local transport rallies and was involved in many preservation groups.
Our unique Charabanc followed a 1930's Hearse brought in specially for the occasion. Other preserved vehicles followed the procession through local towns and villages via James's home and to the funeral service, all swiftly and expertly guided through the streets by members of the elite Motor Cycle Police; and later back to the Diamond Centre at Nene Park where many hundreds of his friends joined family members for the exceptionally presented wake.
See more photos and the full article on our funerals page
Bus Driver Experiences - New Dates Announced for June-December 2012
We are pleased to announce new dates for our popular Bus Driver Experiences for June to December 2012. Due to increased demand we are also providing additional availability. See our Bus Driver Experiences page for the new dates, booking instructions, and more details.
A Most Unusual Corporate Day Out !
A day out at a digger factory perhaps would not be everyone's cup of tea. However, the exciting and professionally run JCB trip was something not to be missed. In fact it was decided on the day of the visit to operate another trip soon. As soon as the Midland Red trip arrived the reception venue's large advertising TV screens lit up welcoming the arrival of the Midland Red party, then the corporate team met us and guided us to the dining room for lunch followed by coffee. Guides met the group and kitted everyone with audible headsets, hi viz vests, and boots; then it was the start of an extensive after dinner walk, touring the various factory processes. The tour ended with a late afternoon cup of tea with biscuits before the journey home.
JCB is pretty much a self contained manufacturer of the famous range of bright yellow diggers, making their own engines, axles and gearboxes in their various UK plants. With thousands of employees based worldwide, they are flying the flag for British exports of this famous iconic brand. This trip was full of interesting and surprising facts and personally imparted knowledge from the now retired employee guides. From a simple trailer made from little more than second hand parts, to a full range of diggers used by so many types of businesses - this is a real success story and we will be definately running a repeat trip very soon.
Items below this section are Archive items for reference only.
NEW Gift ideas for 2012
New Year Greetings ! We are pleased to include our remaining items, great for our Customers, Bus Enthusiasts and as gifts throughout 2012.
To order these gifts:
(available on-line or by post only) Click
Here for our on-line SHOP.
For Postal Purchases: Cheques made payable to "WHEELS" and send to WHEELS/Midland Red Coaches, Postal Office, 23 Broad Street, Brinklow, CV23 0LS With cheque purchases you must allow time for payment to clear before items are despatched.
2012 Midland Red Coaches Calendar
Picture per month with Cover.
Cost: £7.95 plus £2.25 p&p. Total
Bus Driver Experience Day MUG
A day in the 1950's Midland Red Driving School is a
memorable event. This Mug has images of our successful Bus
Days at Mallory Park in Leicestershire.
Cost £7.95 plus £2.25 p&p. Total
Classic Buses Midland Red MUG
This Midland Red Coaches Mug has images of our fleet snapped during their varied work throughout the year, from Red Double Decker Weddings to Charabanc Mystery Tours.
A great idea for a stocking filler.
Cost £7.95 plus £2.25 p&p. Total
Midland Red Coaches came to Santa's rescue recently when his sleigh broke down while travelling through Leicestershire.
We provided our 1920's unique Charabanc to pick up Santa and his Elf and deliver them to Woodlands Garden Centre in Stapleton. He took up residence in the amazing Winter Wonderland Christmas Grotto. The picture shows Santa with his helpers when they arrived at Woodlands Garden Centre on Saturday 12th November.
We hope that you enjoy your festive season. Prepare for our 2012's season of Day Trips - the new leaflet is now available to print from the Excursions page on this website.
We hope that the new year will bring everyone success in these difficult times, and we look forward to you boarding our buses, whether on a day trip, a wedding bus or private hire, or even booking on one of our Bus Driver Experience Days where you can become a pupil in our 1960's driving school for the day. Our current offer continues to March where a free upgrade to our Gold course is offered to those booking and paying for a Red course, giving a saving of £50.
Midland Red CHRISTMAS CARDS.
Christmas Cards from Midland Red
These are available all year round.
Our latest Christmas Card is still available. The cards are available from us direct via our Online Shop or by post, and are available in packs of 5 cards.
The card is large format A5 size and has "Seasons Greetings" on the front, which is repeated as a message on the inside of the card.
Taken from an original oil painting commissioned by Midland Red Coaches, it depicts a traditional and nostalgic British Christmas time scene. It shows traditional red buses from our own classic bus fleet standing outside a snow-covered hostelry, the style of which was typical of those used by the original Midland Red company on their famous Coach Cruise holidays. The scene is completed by the snow capped Royal Mail postbox and the iconic British GPO telephone box.
A Pack of 5 cards are £4.79 plus 0.98p p&p.
You can buy these on our Online Shop, or by post from Midland Red Coaches (postal office), 23 Broad Street, Brinklow, Warwickshire. CV23 0LS.
Now - An "Ambush" of Tigers.
The latest addition to our varied fleet of British designed and built buses and coaches is another modern classic - it now enables larger groups to hire two identical coaches, and while our unique 25-seat Charabanc sits right at the start of the heyday of British coaching, our modern looking Leyland Royal Tiger Doyen vehicles represent the last model from the famous Leyland stable.
photograph copyright: Steven Knight Photography
Leyland named most of their commercial models after large animals, and many of their coaches were named after big cats! Usually on-board is our five foot long Tiger model, complete with crown to signify the coach's model name: The Leyland 'Royal' Tiger.
You can read more about these vehicles in our fleet list/our vehicles page.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
After the recent early snow and freezing cold weather we hope that the new year will bring warmer temperatures and thoughts of getting on board our buses, whether on a day trip, a wedding bus or private hire, or even booking on one of our Bus Driver Experience Days where you can become a pupil in our 1960's driving school for the day. Our current offer continues to March where a free upgrade to our Gold course is offered to those booking and paying for a Red course, giving a saving of £50.
ENDURANCE EVENT FOR JAPANESE TELEVISION
On a wet December day we reported to Victoria Park Leicester for a most unusual assignment. A man was to pull our D9 along a stretch of road with ropes attached to HIS EARS ! The storyline was that Japanese "internet police" were checking to see if such unusual feats are real and truthful. After checking that the bus was indeed a reasonably normal double decker, local strongman and Leicester celebrity Mangit Singh attached a pair of medieval and painful looking devices to his ears, then fitted what looked like a lightweight rope to the ear clips. The other end of the rope was attached to the front main radiator bracket of the famous Midland Red double decker. With relative ease, Mangit, walking backwards, pulled the bus the numberof yards required alongside the iconic cenotaph. Although the event was not advertised, crowds gathered and it was an amazing sight - even though most of the onlookers had no doubt that Mangit would accomplish his task. The film crew from the other side of the world were the most surprised people on site, and even had a go themselves but without any success. After Mangit had pulled the bus, his neice then pulled it too - not with her ears, but with her hair ! Obviously Mangit had given the necessary focus and meditiation techniques. We hope that you enjoy this slide show of the event.
Our NEW Day Trip leaflet is now finalised and available for you to download and print from our website.
There are lots of new trips, from a conducted behind the scenes tour of the famous Rugby School, There are also Trips to Grantham, and Buckingham, another to the small City of Ely in the English Fens, and a day in the market town of Chesterfield with its crooked spire. We also have a repeat visit for a boat trip on Rudyard Lake which is one of our "Premium" tours - it also visits Ashbourne, with Lunch at the Rudyard Hotel.
There is a one-off trip called "Midland Red Revival", which is organised as a special day trip by our longstanding friend and colleague Steven Knight of Steven Knight Photography. He has arranged a special gathering of Midland Red buses and coaches in Stratford upon Avon on Sunday 8th May. We will be travelling in our famous Midland Red D9 double decker which will be launching a new livery. We will be following two famous old Midland Red routes, the 658 from Hinckley picking up along the way, via Nuneaton, Bedworth and Coventry, and then following the main parts of the 518 route from Coventry, Kenilworth, Leamington and on to Stratford - for sightseeing, shopping or bus spotting, (or a bit of each!) NOW FULLY BOOKED.
Listen to Steve Knight talking to Vic Minnet of BBC radio about the event on Sunday May 8 2011.
There are lots more trips in the new leaflet which also has details of 2011 dates for our amazing Bus Driver Experience Days too.
It was exciting when we found one of the last examples of Leyland Royal Tiger coach - the last attempt of the famous British bus builder to stave off competition from European-manufactured coaches that was hitting the UK in the early 1980's.
We have written a full story of the Doyen type and you can read this by clicking the link.
Our Royal Tiger coach was previously owned by a forward-looking operator called Roadliner in the south of England. Roadliner was run by Mark Self, with a very smart company image, company uniform, and smart livery. In fact Roadliner won various accolades for their good service and were highly respected by the local authorities within whose areas they operated. Sadly Roadliner went into administration during 2009 and their assets bought by a Language School. Their business brought in foreign students (mainly of German origin) to learn English and see the sights during their visit. It was felt that the Royal Tiger at well over 20 years old should be disposed of. Apparently it was no stranger to European soil having been overseas only six or so months prior to its withdrawal - in fact we have spoken with a driver who used to take the Royal Tiger abroad and he has pictures of it on the Tunnel Train and in Paris.
Whilst in Roadliner's care our coach was well looked after, and had benefitted in recent times from a new engine and gearbox. In fact it still looked a very imposing and modern coach, often accompanying new coaches on contracted tours and holidays - that's quite something for such an elderly vehicle these days!
However it did need some additional work to that already done as part of its continued programme of upkeep. It arrived with us in the depths of winter, in early 2010. It was placed in a workshop and was assessed in March. It was decided to tackle it head-on. The offside of the coach was stripped. The windows were removed by our contractor JW Glass and taken away where the double glazed units were stripped, cleaned polished and rebuilt.
Then old and rusty framework was cut out section by section and new framework and stretch panels fitted. This was a considerable engineering job and was our 2010 project vehicle. A variety of people involved commented on its restoration, that its original condition wasn't as bad as they had expected, which was pleasing news. After the glaziers had refitted the entire offside of the coach with its windows, the coach was given its Midland Red livery in August ready for its debut trip to the famous Showbus gathering at Duxford Imperial Air Museum in September.
Our fleet now spans almost the entire range of the British coaching era - from our unique open sided period Charabanc representing the 1920's through to the last of this great British breed, the Leyland Royal Tiger Doyen - and although this coach represents the 1980's its design is dateless and it looks quite at home parked next to a brand new coach.
If you haven't tried a ride on our Royal Tiger, it operates on some of our excursions and of course is available for Private Hire.
BUS DRIVER EXPERIENCES NOW MONTHLY
Monday 19th July saw vintage buses and coaches running around the track normally reserved for Motorbikes and Race Cars at the famous Mallory Park Circuit in Leicestershire.
It was the preview day of the 2010 Bus Driver Experience Days by Midland Red Coaches
First to take the wheel was BBC's Julie Mayer from BBC Leicester. Julie reported live during two slots as the day started. She reacquainted herself with the famous Midland Red D9 double-decker that she used to travel on in earlier days, but she had never before climbed up into the Drivers Cab. Sitting next to the 10.75 litre BMMO engine, Julie accomplished some manoeuvres including a reversing test.
Ashley Wakelin, the man behind the Experience Days gave an introductory talk with a potted history of the highly respected Midland Red Driving School of the 1950's and 1960's. He also recounted some experiences of his early days working with Midland Red and how the techniques, styles and depth of training has changed over the years to what is now a much more cost-driven exercise.
Held once a month, the Bus Driver Experience Days are designed to recapture the best from those early days, whilst being an informative and fun day. Mallory Park is a fantastic location for this unique classic bus driving experience which uses buses and coaches from the WHEELS Heritage Midland Red Coaches liveried fleet.
Various courses are available. All commence in a classroom environment with licence and medical checks. Vehicle familiarisation and walk-around checks follow, then Instructors demonstrate various manoeuvres which participants have the opportunity to replicate. Depending upon the course chosen, these can include Reversing using only vehicle mirrors, Hill Start, and use of "crash" and semi-automatic gears. The participant will then progress from Single to Double Decker vehicles.
Individual and Group Bookings are welcomed, with groups of ten participants attracting corporate discounts.
See our Bus Driver Experience page for more details and further pictures of the preview day.
email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A 1928 Midland Red Funeral - more information appeal
Readers with family connections from the Bromsgrove area please read !
This story was sent to us by the family of a very early Midland Red Bus Conductor from Bromsgrove Garage. Just as Midland Red Coaches operate funeral transport, so did Midland Red too - one of the first way back in 1928 !
Please contact us if you know of family connections or the names in the article "ring any bells".
See the funerals page for the full article.
144 To The Malverns ! By D9 Double Decker bus !
Book Your Seats Now
The next In Search of Old Bus Routes takes place on Sunday 11th April 2010 and will be by popular demand, once again covering the famous 144 route Birmingham to The Malverns, via Bromsgrove and Worcester. This is a beautiful and scenic route and the longest Midland Red bus route using double deckers - it has a long history starting in 1928 !
Contact Ashley on 02476 633624 or 077 3388 4914 to reserve seats. or email us email@example.com
It's a trip for Nostalgia and Scenery on this famous historic Route.
Our New BBC Behind the Scenes Tours are a great success. Further trips are planned for the July to December leaflet and again next February.
This is a chance to see how our local and national TV programmes are put together, the news and weather studios, and also to see how BBC Radio works. Of course we never know exactly what we are able to include on these tours as it depends on breaking news and use of the various studios, but we normally see someone famous or who we recognise.
In our last tour Midland Red passengers had the chance to participate in a play "The Haunted House" as it would have been done for a radio recording, complete with lots of sound effects and five or six voice parts. It was great fun for everyone involved and those onlookers who were the audience. Everyone wanted to see the Midlands Today studio, to sit in Nick Owen's chair and see where Shafali Oza presents the Weather forecast. We were also given lots of information about other programmes like The Politics Show and Country Tracks.
If you havent been before - join one of our next tours, but of course if you are part of a group, we can arrange a tour for you on most days to suit.
Our latest TV appearance on "Priceless Antiques Roadshow" was broadcast at 6:30pm on Tuesday February 2nd on BBC2. Associated with the Antiques Roadshow, the programme was presented by Fiona Bruce. The section of the programme that featured our Wheels / Midland Red coach "WHEELS PIONEER" was presented by ceramics expert Will Farmer. The programme was filmed during 2009 in conjunction with the Clarice Cliff Collectors Club and features our classic red and black liveried coach in scenes around Stoke on Trent. You either love or hate Clarice Cliff pottery, but she was important in the Potteries heritage. The crew filmed many sad scenes of once familiar areas of her life, from her apartment, the College of Art where she studied to where her factory once stood. We toured the area with some serious fanatics of the Clarice Cliff Collectors Club from all over the world who brought their own knowledgeable guide of the area. The bus featured in over ten minutes of the programme with interviews conducted on board the coach, and with several scenes of the bus passing by.
Birmingham University - World Aids Day
For the last two years Birmingham University have hired our Midland Red D9 double decker to promote World Aids Day on December 1st. It's a great fun day to put over a serious point!
The bus visited various buildings on the University site during the day and the students called in, making collections and giving out red ribbons, leaflets and the famous Terrence Higgins Trust advice packs and balloons etc.
There is no doubt that the bright red Midland Red double decker is a great advertising tool for any campaign where you want to get noticed, as the bus is such an icon of The Midlands.
Seasons Greetings to you all
Midland Red Coaches joined with Debenhams in November to provide a charity with a festive treat.
Our Classic Midland Red D9 bus picked up at Abbey Park Leicester on a special Christmas Service into Leicester, The passengers were members of the Wishes4Kids charity for terminally ill children and their families. An almost full load of passengers were in for a surprise when Santa Claus welcomed them on board the bus.
The bus was complete with adverts for the charity which were provided by Midland Red Coaches.
The bus travelled with Santa to take the children for a "Breakfast with Santa" experience provided by Debenhams.
On the way the bus travelled at walking pace through the centre area of the city shops with Santa waving to the many onlookers on the way.
Its OFFICIAL - Santa Claus arrives by Midland Red bus !
30 years on.....
SPECIAL D9 DAY in Leicester - 22nd November 2009
It's hard to believe but it is 30 years since the familiar D9 double decker ended everyday life with Midland Red. We joined with others in Leicester for the Celebrations.
It really is hard to believe, but it was in 1979 that the last regular Midland Red bus service ran using the familiar D9 double decker buses. They were then retired.
The D9s last operated in Leicester. So on Sunday 22nd November we ran a trip to Leicester from Coventry, Bedworth, Nuneaton and Hinckley, and then on to Leicester. The trip was popular and had some of our regular daytrip passengers but also some staff, retired staff and their friends and family.
There was free time in Leicester, as well as visiting the National Space Centre where FOUR D9s met up for a unique photoshoot, interviews and filming etc. Then the buses laden with passengers, made their way to Scraptoft where the last journey departed on that day in 1979. A short break followed while passengers were able to buy a copy of the new book by Mike Greenwood - "Midland Red's BMMO D9, A Bus That's in a Class of its Own". It's a super book with lots of useful reference information on this iconic bus, and it also has a few mentions of our own D9 bus too, fleet number 5415. We can recommend this book to you if you would like to know anything about this famous Midland Red D9 type. Articles inside include Design and Construction, Meet the Press, A Busmans Dream of Home, Modifications and One-Offs, A Drivers Perspective, Liveries, Allocations and Withdrawals, D9's working in London and elsewhere, and finally The Survivors. Large format, colour and black and white photographs and at a cover price of just £7.95. Published by: Leicester Transport Heritage Trust, 13 Warren Road, Enderby, Leicester. LE9 2DR.
Then we all eagerly awaited the 1541hrs departure time for a re-run of the final journey. A prompt departure saw the D9s run together back to Leicester. There were lots of photographers and the event was being filmed by DAVIDEO for a future DVD release to accompany their excellent range of already available titles on Midland Red - many containing rare archive material.
The day was enjoyed by all. The next In Search of Old Bus Routes
takes place on Sunday 11th April 2010 and will be by popular demand,
once again covering the famous 144 route Birmingham to The Malverns, via Bromsgrove
and Worcester. This is a beautiful and scenic route and the longest
Midland Red bus route using double deckers - it has a long history starting
in 1928 !
Contact Ashley on 077 3388 4914 to reserve seats.
BBC use our D9 for Breakfast Time Reports.
The D9 has been our most popular bus during this Summer as you can see from our updated articles on this page.
Early one weekday morning in September we picked up our reporter for the day - Fran Daly from outside the BBC studios in Coventry and travelled to Kenilworth for our first report. As part of the programme report Fran had to buy a postcard of Kenilworth and post it to see how long the card would take to be delivered during the recent spate of postal strikes.
Then it was off to Warwick, and due to traffic delays we made the report back from the bus stop next to the BP filling station adjacent the Woodloes traffic island. Then it was a drive through Leamington Spa and back to the BBC Coventry and Warwickshire studios in Coventry city centre. We had waves from passers by and a few horns hooting from people who heard us on the airwaves. You will notice that the route number on the bus is the wavelength for BBC Coventry and Warwickshire 94.8
Midland Red Coaches help Celebrate 80th Birthday for retired Driver Alf Barnett.
We were proud to be asked to help make a special occasion even more special for a Leicester man.
Alf joined the once empire-like Midland Red company at its Wigston Depot in Leicester not long after the war, but as was common in those days he was not the only member of his family to work "on the red". His late brother worked at the now closed Southgates garage in the centre of Leicester, and his Grandfather also worked for the company. We would like to thank Arriva's John Breen, a long standing employee who joined Midland Red over 45 years ago and is the absolute font of all Midland Red knowledge - if you want to know anything about the operation everyone asks John! John knew Alf from his working days and had the contacts to make Alf's day a very personal experience. John presented Alf with a documented history of Southgates garage, a Fleet List, and some memorabilia items before we progressed on to even more surprises.
Before the bus pulled up outside Alfs house in South Leicester, he thought that he was heading into town to pick up a birthday present with his daughter, but when he ventured out of his house to see what the classic Midland Red bus was doing outside his house - he noticed the name on the front of the bus! Then a busload of his friends and family came out of the nearby bus stop shelter to add to his surprise.
After John Breen had made his presentation at St Margarets Bus Station, it was off to Wigston Depot (his old workplace). The bus had special permission to park in the depot and was met by the Depot Engineer, John who had come in to see Alf on his day off. It was over fourteen years since Alf retired and he was very surprised at how things had changed. Things that had stayed still for decades, had suddenly become modern - the concrete ramp where buses were steamcleaned has been changed for a state of the art cantelever lift where buses rise up into the air to be cleaned underneath; and the old fashioned bus wash was replaced with a totally enclosed wash-tunnel. Inside the depot, the rooms where the bus conductors laboriously counted the cash on lead-covered benches had been replaced by a built-in automated coin counting machine which simply gives staff a receipt for the days takings - the cash is later collected by an external security firm. In Alf's day there were a number of ladies employed at the depot whose sole job was to "cash-count", and the takings were transported on the "bank-bus" in wheeled wickerwork baskets with a couple of Drivers on board to help wheel the money into the bank.
The passengers on the bus during Alf's tour of his old workplace were not quite as interested in the bus depot as Alf, and of course it was safer to keep everyone on the bus where possible. So it was soon off to our next port of call, Market Harborough where a stop was made at a local hostelry for Tea, Coffee and Cakes for everyone before returning to Alf's home.
When you worked for the old Midland Red company it became an important part of your life - this was very evident by spending time with Alf. After all those years he was completely at home on the Midland Red bus.
It's recently been the season for PROMS !
WHEELS Midland Red Coaches operate lots of Prom transport where students have taken great efforts to dress up for the occasion, and start their evening out in style. Below you will see a small selection from our 2009 Proms.
|Parents gather at Wilmcote village to see off their "grown up" youngsters on the evening of their prom at a Stratford upon Avon hotel.||Banbury was the start point for these smart, happy and exceptionally well behaved students on their fresh-air journey from Middleton Cheney to Rye Hill Golf Club.|| Some of the
Hinckley Hastings Scholars who travelled aboard our red double decker to
their Prom at Hinckley Golf Club from Burbage.
Transport to a Wedding, a River Cruise, and a double deck scenic bus tour - it's all in a day's work!
WHEELS Midland Red Coaches can really add a nostalgic touch to your special occasion - Planning is the key to getting it just right.
Here are photos of some recent work with informative captions.
| Weddings are a significant
part of our business and often need considerable planning to get detail
just right. Choosing a venue (just like choosing your transport), is
crucial in ensuring that your day is a success.
|Tony from Henley in Arden was in for a surprise when his wife arranged a secret evening out - dining on a barge at Stratford upon Avon. A vintage Midland Red D9 bus ride into the centre of Stratford started the evening off well.||Sarah's significant Birthday event started with her cooking breakfast for the bus crew! Pickup was north of Nottingham, then it was off on a special tour all around The Vale of Belvoir through some of Leicestershire and Rutland's finest scenery. Passenger friends enjoyed a conducted tour of a micro brewery, lunch in a wildlife and country park. The picture above shows the group with our D9 bus at the third and final stop at an old country pub.|
|Check with us to see if our classic buses are suitable for your hire requirements|
|WHEELS operate vintage
and classic buses and coaches for Weddings, Partnerships,
Special Occasions, and Day Trips.
Our vehicles create a wonderful ambience for your special occasion. The benefit of choosing a vehicle that suits your occasion and style adds to your day.
Bearing this in mind,
we restrict our operations to preserve our vehicles for future
generations to enjoy and so as a guide, we operate normally
inside the old Midland Red area, which includes Leicester,
Coventry, Northampton, Banbury, Worcester, Birmingham,
Wolverhampton, and Stafford. We occasionally make exceptions
depending on the work. For TV and Film work we can arrange for
work to be undertaken anywhere when we can arrange suitable
stops and accommodation for the bus.
|BOOK YOUR DAYTRIPS DIRECTLY WITH US BY PHONE|
|WHEELS has closed its
Model Shop in Coventry Pool Meadow, and Midland
Red bookings are being handled directly by telephone until
arrangements have been made for a booking agent to be
appointed in the City Centre.
Book by Telephone - The numbers are
077 3388 4914 or 024
76 633624. These numbers get you to us directly, but if we are engaged or with clients,
you will be able to leave a message and we can return your
call, but please leave your name, number and more importantly
a message so that we can get back to you with some accurate
information. You can Book Day Trips, Private Hire etc by
telephone and you can pay by debit Card, or by Cheque just as
|THE BIGGEST RANGE of Vehicles for Special Occasions - For Hire|
|WHEELS/Midland Red have the biggest range of vehicles for just about any special occasion. Our unique vintage Charabanc, a vintage D9 Red Double Decker, and Classic Bristol Coach, etc - all available for Hire with experienced uniformed Drivers. See our Buses for Business and Buses for Pleasure pages.|
Classic Leyland Coach still goes Long Distance !
After a long career of almost thirty years our British classic Leyland Leopard coach is still going on tour. It has just completed an 8-day tour to Weymouth with the Bedworth group that we have taken for the last six years to various English resorts.
The tour itinerary included day trips to Dorchester, Poole, and Seaton. Garaging for the coach whilst at Weymouth was kindly provided at the ex Western National depot which even had staff who were ex Midland Red! It had been some time since a Leyland Leopard had been at the depot and some thought it had come a week too early for the annual bus rally - but local staff were excellent and very welcoming.
The above pictures show: 1. Weymouth seafront showing the secluded bay. 2. The faithful Leyland Leopard coach - named WHEELS Challenger. 3. The sand sculpture on Weymouth beach depicting Windsor Castle - especially made for the visit of Her Majesty the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh who visited during our stay. 4. The Daytrip to Seaton included a visit to Seaton Electric Tramway.
This modern classic Coach can also be available for PRIVATE HIRE - Ask us for details.
DAY TRIP PROGRAMME
Our NEW DAY TRIP programme is now out and its available here on this wedsite for you to download and print your very own copy !
There are many new destinations as well as some of the favourites retained for good measure! Building on the success of last year's leaflet, there are some new destinations in the programme. During the last few months we asked you for feedback for new destinations and many of these have been included. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.
We know that our programme is very competitively priced and great
value (you have
told us so). We do not surcharge our Tours, to cover the
astonishing rise in the cost of our diesel fuel, whilst we can never say never -
we do not plan to alter our prices from those advertised. Instead, we hope that
you will choose to come with us on even more of our trips - and hopefully join
our Midland Red Travel Club (see below).
We are pleased to build on our successful programme, and also retain our general policy of not arbitrarily canceling our tours. This gives you the confidence to book with us and look forward to your trip. It gives us the ability to build up a good reputation and a friendly bunch of regular passengers, many who would class themselves as friends. Please book early.
JOIN OUR TRAVEL CLUB
It's especially for our regular passengers and gives the cheapest of any fares available, and there are even selected trips for a fiver! *
Call us for an Application form.
* for members only !
Download a Day Trip leaflet from our web site. - just go to our Day Trips, Excursions and Special Events page where you will find a PDF copy of the leaflet that you can print off yourself.
You can book trips by telephone and pay by credit/debit card too.
Digbeth Coach Station Closure Event
and a potted history - by Ashley Wakelin
National Express have released their new plans for the future of Birmingham's Coach Hub. After many years of deliberation the existing site at Digbeth has been chosen for the new Coach Station.
Saturday 17th November 2007 was the last day that people could see the old coach station, which has an interesting and varied history. It started life in January 1929 as Midland Red's "city" garage and at the time it was the company's biggest garage, and operated by far the most mileage of any depot. It employed the largest number of employees of any of its 35 garages, and had the most vehicles allocated to it. Four years earlier in mid 1925 Midland Red acquired the land and developed the site which involved the demolition of some back-to-back houses, some old shops and a storage/warehouse.
In 1930 when the coach station was just a few months old, Midland Red acquired Black & White Motorways. Later control of this organisation was shared and Associated Motorways was formed (its network of services eventually to become the network of National Express), and in which Midland Red was a big player. Digbeth then became the home of both Midland Red's Birmingham coach operation and Associated Motorways. It has never had enough space and often with over 100 buses as well as the coaches operating from there, it was often organised chaos, especially during coach interchange times.
The front of Digbeth Coach Station was modernised in the mid 50's and when completed had the most modern state of the art facilities of any in the UK. Midland Red had always been proud of its Restaurant at Digbeth - even having its own sugar sachets printed as early as 1960. But after the refurbishment it became a 100 seater with very modern kitchen facilities and its own logo'd porcelain plates and dishes. There was a Booking Hall, Waiting area, Shop, Toilets, and even public telephones!
Sadly what was modern in the 1950's just would not do fifty years later. The facilities were never improved and Digbeth became the poor relation as far as passenger facilities were concerned. The new coach station will have modern facilities but won't have the luxury of an overall roof. Temporary coach station facilities have been opened just over the other side of Digbeth High Street, and on a visit recently I was very surprised by its facilities - indeed had the temporary facility been the Digbeth replacement I think it would have been quite acceptable. So congratulations National Express for providing good facilities for the next two years whilst Digbeth Coach Station is refurbished.
The closure of the Coach Station was an event involving everyone - even if not everyone had heard about the event! A range of classic and vintage buses and coaches were on display in the coach loading area. Around the perimeter were food kiosks including healthy smoothies and pancakes too. There were two stalls selling model buses and some other stalls with bric-a-brac. National Express had a well stocked show stand with giveaways which were eagerly accepted by all. A limited edition last day post-card was given to all people attending which was not available elsewhere. It had a special final day stamp.
During the day Bryan Bannister a Senior NatEx Manager conducted a couple of special walk-arounds of the upstairs offices which were known as Spencer House (after Midland Red Chairman John Spencer Wills). It was wonderful to revisit the upper floors (normally out of bounds), as when I worked for Midland Red I attended a couple of training courses there some thirty-odd years ago. There were also visits to the Inspectors Control Room overlooking the coach station floor. This room was an absolute hive of activity in Digbeth's heyday with messages by phone being sent and received to other coach stations, hired-in coaches given instructions, and drivers organised.
Lunchtime saw BBC's Ashley Blake giving a passionate speech, admitting his interest in coaches from a young age. Born and bred in Birmingham he travelled by coach as a child aged 7, and admitted that he couldn't sleep the night before visiting Digbeth! His favourite seat was behind the driver where he could pretend to drive and said that before his career in TV he worked at a HGV Dealership, but never got around to driving a coach. He was later given a special look around the National Express training coach which had made a journey from Heathrow depot for the event.
There were a number of ex members of staff in attendance, not just from Digbeth, but from other outposts of the Midland Red empire. I even met a driver from Harper Bros of Heath Hayes (taken over by Midland Red in the 70's). He eventually came to Digbeth to work for Midland Red Coaches. Midland Red Coaches was based at Digbeth before moving to Carlyle works, Edgbaston for a time before it was disbanded.
Special thanks for the hard work done by Bryan Bannister and Cathryn Jeeves for making a great day happen. I also feel that Richard Gough (the night Coach Controller at Digbeth) should be highlighted for thanks as he came in to the old Digbeth in uniform, and without pay to be part of the event. Of course ANYONE in a uniform in Digbeth gets lots of questions and problems to sort and yes, the closing day was no exception. He was his usual very helpful self and enjoyed the event, but he went beyond the call of duty. He was later at work again relieving his colleagues at the new temporary coach station so they could also get a few minutes to say goodbye to the old place!
As darkness approached, the closing ceremony was started by BBC's Ed Doolan who had been a long time critic of Digbeth Coach Station and its facilities, but he admitted that it was a special occasion to say a heartfelt goodbye to a place which had meant so much to Birmingham and its people over the years. Then, as visitors made their way to the doorway to see the last National Express Coach leave Digbeth Coach Station, an explosion of fireworks inside the coach station made a spectacular display with the highlight being a curtain of white light falling like rain from above the exit doorway of the coach station. The classic buses and coaches then left to join the peak hour queues in Digbeth High Street for their journeys home after a very memorable day. .....Bye Bye Digbeth.
Take a look at our photo slideshow of the event.
On Thursday 25th August we made a very special visit to Althorp House, during the
week of the tenth anniversary of the passing of Diana Princess of Wales.
The coach picked up passengers from Nuneaton, Bedworth and Coventry for the
journey to Althorp, Northamptonshire. The weather was perfect for our
visit. It was a fully inclusive excursion, with
access to the Upper Floors of the house too. After disembarking from
the coach, there was a house tour, then time for a spot of lunch in the
courtyard, and the stables for the Exhibitions, and a walk around the lake giving
good views of the island where Diana rests.
At 3pm when other coach passengers were leaving, all Midland Red Coaches' passengers assembled in the house reception to be escorted to the private quarters and the Grand Dining Room where a luxurious Afternoon Tea was provided from family crested china.
This was certainly the highlight of the visit. The Tea was served by uniformed waiting-on staff; there was unlimited Refreshments and an excellent variety of hand-trimmed Sandwiches, Scones and Cakes.
Sorry that we haven't any photographs of the Tea, but inside photography is not allowed at Althorp.
This Excursion fare was £37.50 per person and what a fabulous trip it was.
The Photograph below shows some of our passengers just before our journey home (click on the photo to see a larger version).
Midland Red Coaches Launch a travel club for regular travelers and Group Organisers.
You, as a member of our Midland
Red Travel Club, will be able to get discounted travel on most of our journeys
in our Day Trip programme, and even a discount in our SHOP on our Model Bus and
Model Train products - ideal for those family presents.
We have a number of vehicles which have advertising space
We can arrange the designs and artwork, produce the adverts for you and have them fitted to our vehicles and all for a very reasonable fee.
If you are interested in promoting your business or product or wish to advertise a vacancy or special event then get in touch.
Single Deckers: Side (above windows), Side (below windows), and rear panel.
Double Deckers: Sides - large panel (between decks), rear panel.
email us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
2004 MIDLAND RED Celebrates 100 years.
WHEELS celebrated the Midland Red Centenary (1904-2004) with the introduction of a special Limited Edition print.
Depicting the three Midland Red leaders - Wyndham-Shire, O.C. Power, and D.M.
Sinclair, alongside all the famous and affectionately remembered buses and
coaches from the twenties to the late sixties.
WHEELS commissioned the original oil painting - the basis of the Limited Edition, and nodoubt, collectable prints. Print orders are still being accepted. The opportunity to celebrate this once in a lifetime event by owning one of these full-colour pieces of artwork will cost you £24.99 plus £2.95 postage and packing and it will be sent to you rolled and tubed ready for you to frame in your chosen style. The prints are available and in stock.
PART TIME PSV ENGINEER WANTED
An experienced Mechanic is required who can maintain our fleet to MOT standards and make periodic inspections and undertake MOT test preparation, restoration and painting etc.
Hours and Days to suit, please get in touch.
e are currently compiling a list of part time Driving staff for next season. You can see from this web-site that we operate a diverse fleet of interesting vehicles and a similarly diverse and interesting range of work for large and small business clients and individual customers who want something a little different to make their day out something very individual and special. It takes particular people with a caring nature who are outgoing and flexible to make this possible. If you firstly are interested, and consider yourself suited to this type of work and hold a PSV (PCV) Driving Licence* and have at least three years experience, have excellent 'people' skills, are flexible and enthusiastic in your approach to work, have untold patience, and prove you can care for our traditional buses and coaches, then call us on 077 3388 4914 and request an application form. We reward good drivers with a highly competitive pay scale.
* Some of our vehicles have traditional "crash" gearboxes and so will require an 'all-types' driving licence. Holders of automatic/semi-automatic licences should not be deterred from applying.
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