The BMMO S15 was built by the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services) as a dual purpose version of their successful lightweight type S14 bus design. The type was intended for use mainly on long distance services, but frequently also found use on coach services, excursions and coach service duplicates.
Mechanically the BMMO S15 was the same as the BMMO S14 with the exception of twin wheels being fitted to the rear axle. Bodywork was finished in-house by BMMO at their Carlyle Works, with interior differences from the type S14 being the fitting of 40 very comfortable “bucket” seats, a brighter interior colour scheme, wider parcels racks and improved heating. Externally a deeper front windscreen, additional aluminium brightwork, and a driver’s signalling window were added to the basic 30′ 0″ BMMO S14 bodyshell. A smoother outlined front roof dome was used, and the front destination displays were reversed back to the layout of the earlier S-types, that is with the numbers on the left hand side of the bus. Hopper ventilators were used above the main body windows, and a small luggage compartment was added under the rear floor, accessed from a hinged nearside panel.
The first batch of 50 vehicles entered service with BMMO between April and August 1957. Like many of the BMMO types, a number of individual vehicles featured slight changes to the standard design;
The second batch of BMMO S15 buses were made up of 48 vehicles and entered service between June and December 1962. They were built to the same design as the first batch, but featured minor detail differences which included:
Also, the livery carried by vehicles from the second batch differed slightly from those of the first. Unlike the earlier examples, the black of the roof did not extend down the front window pillars to the waist line and therefore, in many peoples’ opinion, the later vehicles were not as visually attractive.
The type S15 was a successful dual purpose design which filled in the gap between the BMMO S13 and the BMMO S21 types. It was a very attractive small vehicle which, unlike the later 36′ 0″ BMMO S16, was not underpowered with the use of the BMMO KL 8.028-litre engine. The original bucket seats were very comfortable if you were not of a wide girth, and the vehicle was found to be very useful standing in for coach and excursion work.
Examples from first batch were down-graded to bus work from 1965, with the second batch following from 1969. This involved repainted the whole bus, including the black roof and aluminium brightwork, into overall red bus livery and thus ruining a very smart appearance. Some vehicles also had their bucket seats replaced with standard bus seats at this time.
Withdrawals began in 1968, with the final two examples surviving until October 1974. After withdrawal six examples, fleet numbers 5046, 5055, 5056, 5073, 5076 & 5091, found further use and all other examples were scrapped. Only two vehicles are known to survive now, numbers 5056 and 5073, both of which are fully restored and running, and can be seen around and about during the rally season. More details of these can be found on the “BMMO S15 – Preserved Vehicles” page.