|First Midland Red Buses Limited|
Midland Red West was the trading name of Midland Red West Limited, a bus operating company formed in 1986.
Unlike many other bus companies operating since deregulation of the bus industry in England and Wales, Midland Red West’s history and operations has been straightforward, while the company could be seen as one of the founding companies of the First Group.
Midland Red (West) LimitedEdit
Midland Red (West) Limited was one of 5 bus operating companies created when the National Bus Company’s (NBC) massive and famous Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC) subsidiary was split in 1981 in preparation for deregulation.
Based in Worcester, Midland Red (West) Limited's main areas of operation were Worcestershire, Herefordshire and parts of Shropshire and the West Midlands connurbation, including Birmingham. Birmingham was also served by the other companies formed from the break up of the MROC, while the Midland Red bus station located at the original Bull Ring Shopping Centre served as a terminus for all 5 former MROC companies opearting to/from Birmingham.
Midland Red West LimitedEdit
In 1986 Midland Red West Holdings Limited, a management buyout company created by Midland Red (West) Limited’s employees, was formed to purchase Midland Red (West) Limited from the NBC. This acquisition took place in December of that year and the now privatised company was renamed Midland Red West Limited.
Midland Red West Limited chose to keep the Midland Red West trading name because of the strength and recognition of the brand.
The livery of many of its vehicles though shortly changed from the NBC's poppy red to a deeper red and cream livery that was very well received. The company also sported a new logo of a Wyvern to replace the NBC’s ‘double N’ motif. Apart from being the name of an imaginary creature, the name Wyvern was also a portmanteau of the 2 major rivers which run through Herefordshire and Worcestershire; the Wye and Severn.
Purchase of the Bristol Omnibus CompanyEdit
In 1987 Midland Red West Holdings Limited purchased the Bristol Omnibus Company (BOC) from the NBC. BOC at the time was operating urban services around the Bristol area under the City Line trading name, which was kept.
In 1988 Midland Red West Limited and Badgerline Limited (who operated rural services around the Bristol area under the Badgerline trading name) merged to form the Badgerline Group. The trading names of Midland Red West and Badgerline remained the same, as did vehicle livery though many of Midland Red West's Leyland Lynxes sported a badger motif on the rear sides of the vehicle.
The creation of the Badgerline Group managed to bring Bristol 'city' services (operated by the Bristol Omnibus Company under the City Line trading name) and Bristol 'rural' operations back under one group because in 1987 Midland Red West Limited purchased the Bristol Omnibus Company, while Badgerline Limited used to be part of the Bristol Omnibus Company (and operated under the Bristol Countrybus name) until it was bought out by its management in 1986. The Bristol Omnibus Company and Badgerline Limited were though still separate bus operating companies under the Badgerline Group.
In 1990 Midland Red West Limited began to expand and modernise its fleet of full-size single deck buses by purchasing 50 Leyland Lynxes, which were put in to service at the firm's Digbeth depot, displacing all that depot's Nationals. 8 of these Lynxes shortly found their way to Redditch depot and 2 years later 5 of these 8 Redditch Lynxes ended up at Kidderminster depot, whiel Reddicth acquired 4 more from Digbeth.
In 1994 37 new Plaxton Verde-bodied Dennis Lances, which were now the Badgerline Group's standard full-size single deck bus, appeared at Digbeth depot, displacing the existing Leyland Lynxes to Kidderminster and Redditch depots.
In 1995 the Badgerline Group merged with Grampian Regional Transport Limited (GRT) to create FirstBus which, because of other transport interests, renamed itself FirstGroup in 1998.
Now part of FirstGroup the registered name, Midland Red West Limited, changed to First Midland Red Buses Limited on March 26, 1999, while the trading name and livery of vehicles gradually changed over the years as part of a four-step phased change rather than an instant 'overnight' change. These changes, which were also implemented with many of First's other bus operating companies, involved:
- In 1995, vehicles of the Midland Red West fleet began to display "FirstBus" transfers in their windows. These first began to appear in the windows of the company's fleet of Mercedes-Benz L608D minibuses and gradually began to appear in the windows of other buses in their fleet. The original Midland Red West standard livery of red and cream remained on their vehicles, along with the company's typeface.
- In 1997, the company's typeface changed to mirror that of First, with the First logo appearing after the company's title. This new typeface was gradually applied to all vehicles in the company's fleet, except for its Mercedes-Benz L608D minibuses. The standard Midland Red West livery remained on their vehicles.
- In 1998, the Midland Red West name was replaced on the company's vehicles by that of First with the "Midland Red" portion of the name being applied to side of the vehicles in a smaller typeface. Despite this, the company's legal title remained as "Midland Red West Limited" until it was officially re-named on March 26, 1999.
- In around 2001, the "Midland Red" portion of the title was gradually removed from the company's vehicles. The standard red and cream livery was also abandoned and inevitably replaced with First's "Barbie" colour scheme. A Dennis Lance became the first vehicle belonging to the company to be re-painted into this livery in May 2001. In December 2006, another Dennis Lance became the last vehicle to have its red and cream livery re-painted. The company's fleet numbering scheme was abolished on March 13, 2004, instead adopting First's National Numbering Scheme. All vehicles in their fleet had their fleet numbers changed on this date.
The introduction of the First trading name brought to an end nearly 100 years of the name Midland/Midland Red/Midland Red West appearing on buses, though this famous name appeared on a repainted Alexander Dennis Enviro 300 and Leyland National to celebrate the centenary of the creation of Midland Red.
An irony of deregulation is that First Leicester is now in competition with Arriva Fox County, which was once Midland Red (East) Limited; one of the five companies formed with break up of MROC in 1981 along with Midland Red (West).
First Midland Red have four operating depots. Three of them are located in Worcestershire, while the fourth is located in Herefordshire. These operating depots are:
- Hereford Depot - Situated at Friar Street in Hereford. The site was originally opened by the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited ("BMMO") in 1925.
- Kidderminster Depot - Situated at Island Drive in Kidderminster. The site was acquired in 2001 by First Midland Red, replacing the older depot at New Road which was demolished in 2002 to make way for a Tesco petrol station.
- Redditch Depot - Situated at Plymouth Road North in Redditch. The site was originally acquired by the Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited ("MROC") in 1978 as an overspill parking area for the company's vehicles. With the closure of the main administrative depot in 2004, all operations were transferred to the site at Plymouth Road North.
- Worcester Depot - Situated at Padmore Street in Worcester. The site was originally opened in 1928 by the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited ("BMMO").
First Midland Red's operating fleet currently comprises of:
- 39 Alexander Dennis Enviro 300 Mark I.
- 2 Dennis Dart - Northern Counties.
- 15 Dennis Dart - Plaxton Pointer Mark I. (Step Entrance)
- 7 Dennis Dart - Plaxton Pointer Mark I. (Non-Step Entrance)
- 5 Dennis Dart - Salvador Caetano Nimbus.
- 7 Dennis Dart - Plaxton Pointer Mark II.
- 6 Dennis Dart - Alexander Dennis Pointer.
- 40 Dennis Lance - Plaxton Verde.
- 12 Dennis Lance - Wright Pathfinder 320.
- 5 Dennis Trident - ALX400.
- 5 Leyland Olympian.
- 15 Optare Solo.
- 1 BMC 1100FE.
This sums up to a total of 159 vehicles being operated by First Midland Red.
Note: This list excludes vehicles that are used for driver training.
(This list is correct as of June 1, 2009.)