First Midland Red

First Midland Red
One of First Midland Red's Alexander Dennis Enviro300s
Founded 1999
Headquarters Leicester
Locale Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Birmingham
Service area England
Service type Urban and interurban bus services
Destinations Various within loacle area
Operator FirstGroup
Web site

First Midland Red is a bus company operating in Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the English Midlands. The company was formed in 1981, and until 1999 was known as Midland Red West.[1] It is owned by First Group.


Creation and early history

Midland Red (West) Limited, using the trading name Midland Red West, was one of five bus operating companies created when the National Bus Company's (NBC) massive Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC) subsidiary was split in 1981 in preparation for privatisation. It was created in September 1981 with a fleet of 183 vehicles. The local brand names Reddibus, Severnlink, Wandaward, Wayfarer and Wendaway, created by Midland Red as a result of the Market Analysis Project (MAP), continued.[2]

Based in Worcester, Midland Red (West) Limited's main areas of operation were Worcestershire, Herefordshire and parts of Shropshire and parts of the West Midlands conurbation, including Birmingham. Birmingham was also served by the other companies formed from the breakup of Midland Red.[2]

Minibus operations

In November 1985 Midland Red (West) Limited introduced a fleet of 60 new minibuses to operate its urban network in Worcester as part of a new high-frequency service within the City, operating under the Citibus trading name. The distinctive yellow, orange and blue liveried Mercedes L608Ds displaced larger buses such as Leyland Nationals onto interurban routes. At its launch the service was the UK's largest urban bus service operated by minibuses.

In March 1986 a similar, but much smaller, minibus service was launched for the Kidderminster and Stourport area under the Wyre Forest Shuttle brand. Also operated by Mercedes L608Ds, the buses sported an almost identical livery to the Citibus fleet, with the blue colouring changed to green. A month later minibus operations were also rolled out in Redditch under the Reddilink brand, though larger buses still continued to operate throughout the town on some routes. The L608Ds used here carried a red and yellow livery similar to that of Citibus.[2]


In December 1986 the company was sold by the NBC to Midland Red West Holdings Limited, a management buyout company created by Midland Red (West) Limited's employees. There was also a minor change in the company name, from Midland Red (West) Limited to Midland Red West Limited. The company kept the Midland Red West trading name because of the strength and recognition of the brand. The management buyout also took the 40-vehicle fleet of Midland Red Coaches, which was merged with the main operation.[2]

The livery of many of its vehicles changed from the NBC's poppy red to a deeper red and cream livery. 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.

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 minibus operations were finally launched in Hereford under the Hereford Hopper brand. Also operated by newer Mercedes L609Ds, the buses sported an almost identical livery to the Citibus fleet, with the blue colouring changed to green.[2]

Badgerline Group

In 1988 Midland Red West Holdings Limited was acquired by Badgerline Holdings Limited (a management buyout company which had purchased Badgerline Limited from the NBC operating rural services around the Bristol area).[3] The trading names of Midland Red West and Badgerline remained unchanged 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 merger reunited the two consituent parts of Bristol Omnibus Company, City Line and the Bristol country services which had been separated from BOC in 1986.[4]

Fleet modernisation

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 Leyland Nationals. Eight of these Lynxes shortly found their way to Redditch depot and two years later five of these eight Redditch Lynxes ended up at Kidderminster depot, while Redditch acquired four more from Digbeth.[2]

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.[2]


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, Midland Red West Limited changed its company name to First Midland Red Buses Limited in 1999. 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, were:[2]

Lynx 1121 (at the time) in Midland Red West livery, showing First fleetnames
  • Original livery and typeface remaining with just FirstBus transfers in the windows.
  • Original livery maintained, but the Midland Red West typeface then changed to mirror that of First, with the First logo appearing after the name. Transfers now gone.
  • Original livery maintained, but the Midland Red West name was now replaced by the First name, with the name Midland Red appearing on the side of the buses in very small fonts.
  • The Midland Red name removed and the livery changed to the corporate 'Barbie' white, blue and pink colour scheme.

The introduction of the First trading name brought to an end nearly a century of the Midland Red name appearing on buses, although this name appeared on a repainted Alexander Dennis Enviro300 and Leyland National to celebrate the centenary of the creation of Midland Red.[2]

First Midland Red forms, with First Leicester and First Northampton and as of September 2010 the Staffordshire depots of First Potteries, the First Midlands group. In 2008 the registered office of First Midland Red Buses Limited moved from Worcester to that used by First Leicester in Abbey Lane, Leicester.

Worcester Park and Ride services

In 2001 First Midland Red Buses won the contract to operate the bus services for Worcester's first permanent Park and Ride site on behalf of Worcestershire County Council. A fleet of new Caetano Nimbus-bodied Dennis Darts were leased for the service, which were branded Worcester North, and operated the service from the Park and Ride site, located in the Perdiswell area of the city, to the city centre and vice versa.

In 2005, two new circular bus routes (W2 and W3) were introduced by the county ouncil which included the Park and Ride site as a stop. These services were introduced as part of the county council's new Worcester Express services and were also operated by First Midland Red Buses under the Worcester Express brand. The existing Worcester North service between the city centre and Park and Ride site was also rebranded as Worcester Express, and operated as the W1 service. In February 2008 First Midland Red Buses lost the W1 Park and Ride contract which was now operated directly by the county council with their own fleet of brand-new buses under the Woosh brand.


See also


  1. ^ Companies House Webcheck Company Number 1556327
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cole, David (2008). "From Poppy to Barbie: The vehicles of Midland Red West". In Stewart J. Brown. Buses Yearbook 2009. Ian Allan Publishing. pp. 66–77. ISBN 978-0-7110-3295-8. 
  3. ^ Competition Commission report (1989)
  4. ^ Curtis, C and Walker, M (2007) Bristol Omnibus Services: The Green Years Millstream Books ISBN 978-0-948975-80-6, p.222

External links

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