571–583 Bearwood Road, Birmingham (depot code: BD)
Bearwood depot is considered by many to be the spiritual home of Midland “Red” Motor Services, having been used from the very first days of operations as stabling and storage for horse omnibuses, being the company’s headquarters and registered offices from 1914 to 1953, and home to the traffic and staff departments until its closure in 1973. The site was also used to produce the very first SOS chassis in the mid-1920s, with engine design, construction and testing, as well as the company’s famous experimental department being housed at the site until the early 1950s.
- Site used by City of Birmingham Tramways Company Limited (CBT) for horse stabling and to house horse omnibuses carriages.
- On Thursday 1st June 1905, Birmingham Motor Express Company Limited (BME), the Omnibus Department of Birmingham and Midland Tramways Limited (BMT), and the omnibus operations of City of Birmingham Tramways Company Limited (CBT) merged as the newly formed Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO). Services acquired by BMMO continue to be operated by their original companies, as an “agent” of BMMO until formal transfer of services on Tuesday 1st August 1905.
- Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) commence horse and motor omnibus operations on Tuesday 1st August 1905. All motor omnibuses are housed at the ex-BME Birmingham (Five Ways) depot, with horse omnibuses at Bearwood depot.
- The entire motor omnibus fleet is allocated to Bearwood depot from Friday 16th February 1906, after the expanding fleet became to large too be housed at Birmingham (Five Ways) depot.
The Five Ways garage is used for vehicle overhauls from this time.
- All motor omnibuses withdrawn by the company on Saturday 5th October 1907, due to poor reliability.
- Operation of horse buses declined from mid-1912 following the reintroduced motor omnibuses on Saturday 25th May 1912, all operating from the newly acquired Birmingham (Tennant Street) depot. The last horse omnibuses were withdrawn by BMMO on Friday 5th September 1913.
- Bearwood garage modernised with the removal of stabling and horse bus accommodation, and the building in 1914 of new two-story office accommodation on the frontage featuring twin ornamented employee entrances and narrow vehicle entrances in the centre and at both ends.
- Birmingham (Tennant Street) depot and 30 motor omnibuses sold to Birmingham Corporation in October 1914. At this time, administration duties, all remaining motor omnibuses, and staff transferred to Bearwood garage, which became the company headquarters.
- Site expanded with the purchase of adjacent shops for use as a booking
office by the Private Hire department.
- Bodywork matters transferred to the newly acquired Central Works in late 1920, while Bearwood garage received improved
facilities for vehicle overhauls, chassis construction, and engine
building and testing added in the early 1920s, allowing the company
to start construction of their own vehicles. Adjacent property
was also acquired, allowing the booking office to be demolished and
replaced in 1923 by a new 4-story office block, with additional garaging
facilities at the rear.
- Chassis construction transferred to Carlyle
Road Works in early 1925.
- Engine testing building replaced with a new building in 1928.
- In the late 1920s the two-story office block from 1914 was expanded
with a third floor of offices, which extended at the rear over the
garage area. The three vehicle entrances on the frontage were
also rebuilt to accommodate taller vehicles.
- Site further expanded in 1930 with the acquisition of two shops
next to the 1923 office block, and a large amount of land to the rear.
This allowed the installation of new dock inspection pits in 1933,
followed by a new garage entrance with white concrete offices above,
opening in August 1935.
- Many non-operational departments, such as development and experimental
work, transferred to Carlyle Road
Works in 1953/4.
- New canteen built in 1955.
- Depot allocation of 68 vehicles in February 1967, made up of 37
double-deck and 19 single-deck buses, with 12 coaches.
- Site closed for operational duties on 3rd December
1973, with bus services wholly within the West Midlands County boundary,
along with necessary vehicles and staff, passed to the West Midlands
Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE). Cross-boundry and
coach services transfered to other BMMO depots, and remaining administration
work moved to Central Works or Midland House.
See the “Transfer
of BMMO Services and Assets to the West Midlands PTE” page
in the “History”
section of this website for further details of the transfer.
- Used by BMMO for non-operational duties until February 1974, when
it finally closed and all remaining staff transferred to Midland House.
- Garage used temporarily for an indoor market in 1976.
- Site sold c. 1977/8.
- Whole site demolished in February and March 1979, being replaced
by the Bearwood Shopping Centre which opened in 1981.