From the formation of the company on Sunday 6th September 1981, Midland Red (West) Limited continued to use “Poppy Red” variants of the standard National Bus Company livery on their fleet of Leyland National buses, carried over from the Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC). “Midland Red West” replaced the “Midland Red” trading name on the white band above the windows, but other markings such as the NBC logo and MAP area branding were unchanged.
With the exception of the “Reddibus” name, from July 1984, Midland Red (West) Limited phased out all MAP brand names, but some vehicles continued to carry their MAP name for several more years.
In October 1986, in preparation for deregulation, Midland Red (West) Limited introduced a new red and cream bus livery to replacing this standard NBC livery on their fleet of Leyland Nationals. However, with over 150 Leyland Nationals in their fleet at the time it took a while for the company to repaint all of them, thus the “Poppy Red” red livery could still be seen, with NBC markings removed, for a number of years.
In 1983, Midland Red (West) Limited ordered six new Leyland Suburban National Mark II buses for use on their Midland Express operations. These vehicles came into service in April 1984, in white, yellow and red NBC “Midland Express” livery.
At the end of 1985, Midland Red (West) Limited had plans to centralise and expanded the “Midwest” coaching brand at the unused Bromsgrove depot site. Six Leyland National Mark I buses, all type code N4, (fleet numbers 471, 472 and 484–487) from the existing fleet were repainted into white, yellow and red NBC “Midland Express” livery to be used on the expanded Midland Express network. These vehicles were also re-trimming with red and black Midland Express cloth seats at the same time. However, at privatisation on the 23rd December 1986, Midland Red West took the easier option by purchasing the business of Midland Red Coaches Limited, formally known as Midland Red (Express) Limited, and the “Midwest” brand name was then phased out.
All twelve Leyland Nationals that carried NBC Midland Express livery continued to do so until early 1988. At this time the six Suburban Mark II vehicles (fleet numbers 1201–1206) were repainted into the newly revised red and yellow Midland Express livery. The remaining six Mark I Nationals were all repainted to standard Midland Red West red and cream bus livery by October 1988, but retained the Midland Express cloth seat until withdrawal.
At deregulation on 26th October 1986, and ready for forthcoming privatisation, Midland Red (West) Limited wished to promote a fresh new image so introduced an attractive new “house style” with a new livery of red and cream with black skirts and the triangular Wyvern logo which was carried on the front and rear of all vehicles.
Initially this new livery was applied to the 50 Leyland Nationals transferred to the recently reopened Birmingham (Digbeth) depot for the new network of services in Birmingham and The Black Country which started on deregulation day, with number 752 (registration number XOV752T) becoming the first vehicle to receive the new livery. Subsequently Leyland Nationals operated by Midland Red West Limited at other depots received this livery on repaint, along with certain Leyland Leopard dual-purpose buses, and from July 1990, the company started to repaint their minibus fleet into this livery.
In 1997, as a subsidiary of FirstGroup plc, Midland Red West Limited started to trade under the name of First Midland Red and removed the Wyvern logo and other Midland Red West markings in favour of FirstGroup logos and branding. However, none of the Leyland Nationals operated by Midland Red West survived with the company long enough to receive FirstGroup corporate livery, and the basic red and cream bus livery remained unchanged on the Leyland National fleet until the last examples were withdrawn in 2002.
Midland Red West used paint from the Joseph Mason Paints Limited range, with the red being “Ayre’s Red” paint code 203/22 and the cream being “Off White” paint code 139/22. A Wyvern is a mythical two-legged dragon which stood guard at the gates of the ancient kingdom of Mercia.
With the introduction of the new bus livery at deregulation in October 1986, Midland Red West Limited also introduced new livery of red and yellow with black skirts for use on vehicles operating their Midland Express services. Initially this livery was only used on their Leyland Leopard coaches, however in February 1988, Leyland National number 1205 (registration number A205YWP) was repainted into this livery, with the other five Suburban Nationals from the same batch following over the following months.
The six Leyland National Mark II Suburban Coaches acquired by Midland Red (West) Limited in 1984 were the only Leyland Nationals to receive this livery, which they carried for about a year before being withdrawn and passed to Badgerline Limited, Weston-super-Mare.
Overall advertising was used by Midland Red (West) Ltd on their fleet of Leyland National buses from the formation of the company in 1981, until the second batch of Dennis Lance buses replaced the Leyland Nationals at Worcester (Padmore Street) depot in 1995.
HHA125L was new as fleet number 125 to the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) at Worcester (Padmore Street) depot in March 1973. She passed to Midland Red (West) Limited at the formation of the company on 6th September 1981, and received overall white livery with advertising for Kendal Computing in April 1984. The advertising livery remained on the vehicle for three years before she was repainted into the new Midland Red West red and cream bus livery in April 1987.
125 saw continuous service at Worcester depot for over 18 years until being withdrawn by Midland Red West Limited in April 1991, after withdrawal she was passed to the St. John Ambulance Association, Wolverhampton for conversion to a first-aid unit.
HHA136L was new as fleet number 136 to Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) at Leicester (Sandacre Street) depot in April 1973. The vehicle was heavily damaged in an accident about a month after entering service and after being stored for a short time was taken to BMMO’s Central Works to be rebuilt. After repairs were complete, 136 re-entered service at Worcester (Padmore Street) depot and later passed to Midland Red (West) Limited at the formation of the company on Sunday 6th September 1981.
136 received a white livery with overall advertising for Sketchley Cleaners in November 1983, and just over a year later in January 1985, was again repainted, this time receiving overall advertising for Worcester Windows. In June 1988, the advertising was removed and 136 was repainted into the standard Midland Red West red and cream bus livery.
With the exception of the few weeks at Sandacre Street before her accident, 136 remained in service at Worcester depot until September 1989, when she moved to Redditch depot for a few months, and then on to Birmingham (Digbeth) depot in February 1990. The vehicle was withdrawn from service two months later in April 1990, and stored for over a year before passing to Wacton (dealers) of Bromyard for scrap in July 1991.
540 received mainly-yellow overall advertising for British Telecom in July 1984, while in service with Midland Red (West) Limited at Worcester (Padmore Street) depot. The advertising was removed and she was returned to standard NBC “Poppy Red” bus livery in June 1986, becoming one of the last vehicles to be repainted by Midland Red (West) Limited into NBC livery before privatisation and the introduction of the new red and cream bus livery.
In 1991, the Crowngate Shopping Centre was opened in the City of Worcester, featuring a new bus station to replace the existing bus stations at Angle Place and Newport Street. At this time, Midland Red West repainted 541 into overall white livery with advertising for the new shopping centre. This livery was carried until Leyland Nationals were replaced at Worcester (Padmore Street) depot by the new Dennis Lance in 1995, making 541 the last National operated by Midland Red West to carry overall advertising.
After Leyland National 541 was withdrawn from service in 1995, Midland Red West Limited operated a Dennis Lance (fleet number 249) from Worcester depot with full body advertising for Crowngate Shopping Centre, until it was repainted 2000.
545 received advertising for National Travelworld in September 1983, the advertising remained until September 1986 when the vehicle was repainted into standard Midland Red West red and cream bus livery.
NOE546R was new as fleet number 546 to Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC) in September 1976, at Worcester (Padmore Street) depot, passing to the Midland Red (West) Limited fleet at the formation of the company on Sunday 6th September 1981.
In July 1983, while still in service at Worcester depot, she received overall advertising for the local radio station, Radio Wyvern, and was fitted with a PA system to allow that radio station to be played to passengers. In January 1985, she was repainted with overall advertising for Midland Red (West) area tickets, and this advertising remained until July 1988, when she received the standard Midland Red West red and cream bus livery. Large advertising for Sandfords DIY Superstore was later carried along the sides and it the front of the vehicle over the standard livery.
Midland Red West Limited also operated a Mercedes-Benz L608D and a Mercedes-Benz 609D (fleet numbers 1350 and 1438) from Worcester depot and Hereford depot that also carried full body advertising for Radio Wyvern.
547 received advertising for Berrow's Newspapers in December 1983, then was repainted in September 1985 with advertising for Source Newspapers. She was repainted into standard Midland Red West bus livery of red and cream in September 1986.