Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Busman's Holiday

Midland Red Buses at Wythall Transport Museum
What better way for a busman, particularly a republican busman, to spend a royal bank holiday than at a bus museum? Birmingham has two - and today I've visited both, making use of a free service of preserved buses linking them to each other via the city centre.
I went first to Wythall, a Worcestershire village to the south of Birmingham where a former RAF base now houses a museum dedicated to the buses of Midland Red and other midlands operators. The Midland Red was once a mighty undertaking, serving 15 counties with nearly 2,000 buses and carrying millions of passengers a year. It was dismembered in stages from 1974 but its memory lingers on.
In those days most larger towns and cities ran their own buses
                             These are from Birmingham and Walsall respectively

Whilst boaters on the Shropshire Union Canal might have come across this Wolverhampton bus at Wheaton Aston.

But it's not just about the buses and Wythall Museum has a large collection of bus ephemera:
Timetables cases used to display advertising posters
Notices to drivers. . . .
. . .and conductors

Staff were expected to take pride in their appearance. Would I have passed muster?
 Unexpectedly, as well as buses, the museum has a collection of battery-electric vehicles including these splendid milk floats.
There was less to see at the Aston Manor Museum, which was recently evicted from its former home in Aston bus garage and relocated to a rather characterless shed at Aldridge, but it did give me the opportunity to ride in this superb ex-Birmingham Corporation Guy Arab (which would have been built in nearby Wolverhampton).

The crew entered into the spirit of things, with not only the driver and conductor in period uniform but also this splendid character:
The bus inspector: Will be see his like again?


No Direction said...

We always considered Midland Red buses the "Posh" ones as the seats were covered in a red fabric, the yellow corporation buses had cheap brown plastic seats. I always found the conductors ticket machine hanging from its strap fascinating and loved the noise it made, all the money was kept in a leather bag, also hanging round their neck, the conductors could even work out your change in their head without using a calculator.

Anonymous said...

Ray, That's right. Two-and-three-halves to town a23t 1/9d per adult, children half-fare! Also had to remember all the fares and,of course, the returns and weeklies! Happy days.

Anonymous said...

An enjoyable alternative to a water pageant. I used to be 'a half' (2d) ! Yep...now I travel for free!!!