Midland Red

Motorway Coaches 

by Steve Richards

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From the author...

My interest in the Midland Red Motorway Coach started with two distinct events.  My aunt, who worked at the company offices at Bearwood, knowing of my interest in all things Midland Red, bought me one of the Corgi toy motorway coaches.  As a ten-year-old I loved it.  Shortly afterwards, my father was doing some building work for a man who I gather was a photographer for Midland Red.  On being told of my interest, the man handed over a 10x8 inch yellow Kodak box containing a series of CM5T black and white photos, a motorway express commemorative ticket and a brochure given out on the day the Coventry service was inaugurated.

I never travelled on any of the services undertaken by these motorway coaches. The nearest I got was permission to look inside a CM5T at Bearwood garage in 1964, again my aunt’s doing.

My schoolboy interest in Midland Red gave way to one in aviation but in the late 1980s it was rekindled.  Having written a number of articles on the motorway coaches during the 1990s, I was invited to assist Corgi with their models of C5 coaches produced in 1/76th scale.  As a result, I became quite knowledgeable regarding their outward appearance at least!


With 2009 marking 50 years since the opening of the M1 Motorway and the introduction of Midland Red’s first motorway express service, the time was right for a detailed investigation of the complete subject and the volume you are holding is the result.  It falls into three sections.  The first and longest covers the BMMO C5 class featuring the motorway version.  The second part covers the larger, more powerful coaches of the BMMO CM6 class.  The final section is made up of a series of related appendices. 


Midland Red was more formally known as the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Co Ltd or BMMO.  The titles Midland Red and BMMO are used synonymously.  In this book, I have been quite free in using both names.  However, I have tended towards BMMO when referring to the bus manufacturing and engineering side, and Midland Red for the operational side.  I emphasise the word tended, as I have not attempted to be rigorous in this application.

I have been fortunate in having access to good source material and, whilst there are formal acknowledgements elsewhere, I must express here my appreciation to Jim Pearson for his patience and enthusiasm in sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience.  The illustrations used include many that will be new to readers, but I have not excluded others simply because they have been seen before. 

Hopefully, I have written in an accessible style and not assumed that all of my readers are ‘rivet counters’ or engineers!  I am neither of these and so have sought to understand some of the technical side in order to retell it in lay terms.  Extensive use of footnotes has been made in order to maintain the flow of the text and not break up the continuity with lots of numbers and technical detail. 

And from the Foreword  by Gavin Booth...

In this impressively-researched book, Steve Richards presents the story of the motorway coaches and the services they provided, but recounts first-hand experiences on the road, including the often apocryphal tales of excessive speed on the M1 Motorway in those days before the 70 mph limit.

Although the distinctive Midland Red coaches disappeared into the relative anonymity of National Express white, there is no doubt that these pioneering routes showed just what could be done to provide better coach links using the growing motorway network

The Midland Red company itself, lost its West Midlands heartland in 1973, and the rump was carved up in 1981 in preparation for privatisation. However, there is still great affection for Midland Red among former passengers and staff, and among enthusiasts throughout the country, and this book recalls one of the many highlights in the story of the company that grew to be one of the largest and most influential in Britain.

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Title:         Midland Red Motorway Coaches

Author:    Steve Richards

ISBN:        978-0-9563708-1-5

Format:    Soft cover.

Size:          280x215mm:  112 printed pages

Photos:    135 black and white 75 colour photos. 15 line illustrations

Price:        £19.95

Postage:   UK £2.00, EU £7.00, Rest of the World: £10.50 air mail, £5.25 surface mail.




Foreword by Gavin Booth



PART ONE  - ‘Speeding Into The 1960s’  The BMMO C5, CM5T, CM5, CS5 and C5A


Post-War Lineage

Enter the C5

High-Speed Development


Drivers and Passengers

Maintenance and Mods

Promotions and Demotions


Out of Service


PART TWO - ‘Maintaining The Momentum’   The BMMO CM6T, CM6 and CM6A


New Model

Into Service


Final Phase

Appendix A   Livery

Appendix B   Commemorative Runs

Appendix C   Miniatures

Appendix D   Digbeth and Victoria

Appendix E   D. M. Sinclair

Appendix F   The MIRA Proving Ground

Appendix G   Heading For The Motorways

Appendix H   Vehicle Histories and Garage Allocations

Acknowledgements and Bibliography


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As well as being impressively researched, well-written and superbly presented, the author has also done a fantastic job of sourcing a series of evocative images and illustrations.
Vintage Spirit Magazine - July 2011

This is a superb study on a very fascinating area of commercial transport history and is highly recommended.
JFF, Vintage Spirit 

Congratulations.  An excellent and defining piece of work, the quality of the print and general presentation is superb.   A must for BMMO fans and bus enthusiasts in general.
Rod Bates, Leicester

What a fantastic book.... well done indeed. Its so readable - even people who have never seen a motorway coach will be enthralled!!   Great stuff.
John Hobday, Preston, Lancs.


I'm Lucky to have received this excellent work so quickly after publication, I have not been able to put it down. To anyone with a long and abiding interest in the C5, in all its guises, this is a major work and obviously meticulously researched with the usual detail associated with this author.   Highly recommended.

Nigel Edwards, North Yorkshire


Excellent!  It covers the history of the motorway coach very, very well.  Speaking as an old Midland Red employee of that era, I can thoroughly recommend it.

Dick Nutt (former Midland Red Technical Assistant), Nuneaton.


The level of detail is outstanding yet it is all interesting with no boring padding.  I always find myself having to describe great sweeps of Midland Red history but you had the opportunity to describe the build-up and launch of the CM5T, and stress how exciting and revolutionary it all was.  You did not fail in that respect, it was great to relive those days.

Malcolm Keeley, Solihull.


Many thanks indeed for the copy of your excellent book. It’s a comprehensive coverage of a fascinating subject.

John Banks, Stockport.

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The Transport Museum, Wythall  http://www.bammot.org.uk

There are lots of Midland Red vehicles to be seen, including a C5 and CM6T.


Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester  http://www.gmts.co.uk

Operated by volunteers and owned by GMPTE. 


MidlandRed.net http://www.midlandred.net

Unofficial Site for Midland Red Buses


Aston Manor Road Transport Museum  http://www.amrtm.org

Houses a number of buses including Midland Red.



Contact author

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Steve Richards

Email motorwaycoaches@tiscali.co.uk


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