Midland Red (North) Limited formed on 6th September 1981 to take over operation of bus services in the West Midlands, Shropshire and Staffordshire following the brake up of Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited (MROC). Of the five “Midland Red” operating companies formed at this time, Midland Red North was by far the most prolific user of the Leyland Tiger, having operated of over 50 buses and around 30 coaches built on the Tiger chassis. The company acquired many of their buses as second-hand coaches from 1989, having their bodywork scrapped, chassis refurbished, and bus bodywork fitted by East Lancashire Coachbuilders. A further 12 Leyland coaches and one bus were acquired with the business of Stevensons of Uttoxeter when the two companies, both subsidiaries of the Cowie Group, merged in 1996.
As a subsidiary of the Cowie Group plc, Midland Red North became part of the Arriva group at its formation on 6th November 1997, and renamed to Arriva Midlands North Limited. In 2003, the company and their operations came under the control of Arriva Fox County in Leicester, forming Arriva Midlands. By this time, only a small number of Leyland Tigers survived with the company, and these passed to Arriva Midlands, being renumbered to bring them into line with other vehicles in the fleet.
In November and December 1983, Midland Red (North) Limited took delivery of six Leyland Leopard coaches; all fitted with C50F Plaxton Paramount 3500 bodywork. These vehicles were registered A508-A513HVT given the fleet numbers 1508-1513. All were in overall white livery, with 1510 carrying a turquoise band with Hotspur branding, 1511 a claret band with Chaserider branding, and 1512/3 a lime green band with Mercian branding.
Initially 1512 and 1513 were placed in storage for two months before going of loan to Shamrock and Rambler Coaches Limited, Bournemouth, where they were also operated by Midland Red (Express) Limited for short periods. In March 1984, they returned and entered service for Midland Red (North) Limited.
Following deregulation, Midland Red North found itself in financial difficulties and was forces to cut back on their services, and on 26th April 1987 they withdrew 105 vehicles. All six of these Leyland Tiger coaches were withdrawn at this time and sold within a few months with two examples, fleet numbers 1511 and 1512, finding new homes with Midland Fox Limited.
At the end of 1984, Midland Red (North) Limited acquired three more Leyland Tiger coaches, fleet numbers 1514–1516 (registration numbers B514–B516OEH). These vehicles came with Duple Laser 2 bodywork, in two different seating configurations. 1514 and 1515 had C51F seating and were painted in white coach livery, while 1516 was seated as C53F and painted in National Express livery.
All three vehicles were fitted for one-man operation by April 1987, and saw several different liveries. 1514 and 1515 were sold to Crosville Motor Services in April 1989.
In May and June 1986, Midland Red (North) Limited acquired a further three new Leyland Tiger coaches with C50Ft Duple 340 bodywork. These vehicles were to be the last Leyland Tigers, buses or coaches, purchased new by the company, with all subsequent acquisitions of Tiger based vehicles being second-hand. The vehicles entered service with the company as fleet numbers 1518-1520 carrying overall white livery with either claret “Chaserider,” turquoise “Hotspur” or yellow “Force Ten Leisure” branding.
On 26th April 1987, after less than a year of service, all three of these vehicles were withdrawn due to financial problems at Midland Red (North) Limited. At this time, 1519 passed to Leon’s Coach Travel (Stafford) Limited, while 1518 and 1520 both passed to Midland Red South Limited where they were repainted into National Express livery, entering service as fleet numbers 31 and 32. All three vehicles reunited when A. Mayne and Sons Limited of Clayton acquired them around June 1989.
Acquired in April 1984, fleet numbers 1601–1603 (registration numbers A601–A603HVT) had C57F Duple Laser bodywork and carried white, yellow and red NBC “Midland Express” livery from new. By the end of 1988, all three had been repainted into yellow and red coach livery. They were withdrawn in 1991 and sold.
Acquired in December 1984, fleet numbers 1604–1607 (registration numbers A601–A603HVT) had C55F Duple Laser 2 bodywork and carried white, yellow and red NBC “Midland Express” livery from new. By October 1988, all four had been repainted into yellow and red coach livery, and later they carried overall red livery with gold BMMO-style “Midland” fleetnames shown on the sides.
The first nine Leyland Tiger buses operated by Midland Red (North) Limited were fleet numbers 1701–1709 (R/Nos: A701-A709HVT) and were acquired new by the company in February and March 1984. They were all fitted with B51F Duple Dominant bodywork and entered service in overall red bus livery with either Turquoise “Hotspur,” Claret “Chaserider,” or Lime Green “Mercian” branding. They were repainted from 1988 into white and red bus livery, and later into yellow and red livery bus livery.
These were the only Leyland Tiger buses that the company acquired from new, with all subsequent acquisitions being second-hand.
SOH553Y and SOH554 were acquired from Midland Red (Express) Limited in August 1983, where they had operated in white National Holidays livery with fleet numbers 553 and 554. They passed to Midland Red (North) Limited as fleet numbers 1506 and 1507, still carrying National Holidays livery.
1506 was repainted in overall white livery with Chaserider branding February 1986, and fitted for one-man operation in October of that year. She was again repainted in October 1987; this time to bus livery, before being withdrawn in December 1990 and passing Williamsons Motorways of Shrewsbury. 1507 was fitted for one-man operation in April 1987 and like 1506, was painted into bus livery in October 1987. She was withdrawn in May 1989 and passed to Crosville Motor Services of Chester.
Details of these vehicles’ service before passing to Midland Red (North) Limited can be found in the “Midland Red Express - Leyland Tiger” section of this website.
In June 1985, Midland Red (North) Limited acquired an ex-Leyland Bus demonstrator coach with C53F Plaxton Paramount 3200 bodywork. This vehicle entered service with the company in September 1985 as fleet number 1517, and was repainted to overall white livery with “Chaserider” branding in March 1986. This was one of the 105 vehicles withdrawn by the company on 26th April 1987 due to financial difficulties, and passed to Northumbria Motor Services Limited, Newcastle-on-Tyne as fleet number 133. She was re-registered to WSV572 shortly afterwards. Over the next ten years it changed hands a number of times, receiving new registration numbers each time, and as a result is no longer traceable.
From March 1989, Midland Red North Limited started to buy second-hand Leyland Tiger coaches, mostly from London Country, to convert to bus work. Vehicles would have their bodywork removed, either in-house or by East Lancashire Coachbuilders, and chassis refurbished and then sent to East Lancashire Coachbuilders to be fitted with new bus bodywork. This practice continued until 1992 by which time 29 vehicles had been converted.
Between March and July 1989, Midland Red North Limited acquired eleven Leyland Tiger coaches from London Country (South West) Limited of Reigate. These vehicles were fitted with Eastern Coach Works (ECW) bodywork from new, seated at either C49F or C53F, and carried London Country fleet numbers TL1, TL2, TL3, TL4, TL7, TL14, TL21, TL22, TL25, TL26 and TL39. London Country used these vehicles on their “FlightLine 757” service operating between London and Luton Airport, carrying white and green livery.
On arrival at Midland Red North, the company stripped the bodywork for spares on all eleven vehicles at their Cannock depot headquarters, and passed the remains to Peterborough PVS for scrap. The bare chassis were then sent to East Lancashire Coachbuilders to receive new bodywork, returned in December 1989 and January 1990 with either DP49F or B51F seating. They entered service between January and March 1990 in white and red bus livery, retaining their original registration numbers and carrying Midland Red North fleet numbers 1710–1720, although these fleet numbers were not in sequence with their original London Country fleet numbers.
While in service with Midland Red North, the company repainted these vehicles a number of times, first to yellow and red bus livery, then overall red livery with BMMO style “Midland” branding, and finally surviving examples received turquoise and stone Arriva corporate livery.
Note: Midland Red (North) Limited previously used the fleet numbers 1710–1716 on a batch of Leyland National buses acquired from Northern General Transport Limited, Gateshaed, between June and September 1984. The company withdrew the last of these vehicles in April 1987.
In 1991, Midland Red North acquired ten more second-hand Leyland Tiger coaches from London Country (South West) Limited of Reigate. Nine of these were new with Berkhof Everest 370 bodywork and had been numbered BTL2, BTL3, BTL4, BTL5, BTL7, BTL8, BTL9 and BTL41 in the London Country (South West) fleet, while the remaining vehicle carried Duple 320 bodywork and had been numbered TDL62.
East Lancashire Coachbuilders removed and scrapped the bodywork on these vehicles, with the chassis returned to Midland Red North at their Cannock depot for refurbishment. The chassis then returned to East Lancashire Coachbuilders to be fitted with new bus bodywork, seated at B61F, with the first examples to be completed entering service in May 1991 carrying white and red bus livery. These ten vehicles carried the fleet numbers 1721-1729 while in service with Midland Red North, but like the previous batch, these fleet numbers were not in sequence with their original London Country fleet numbers.
One example from the batch, fleet number 1727 (registration number B107KPF), saw less than one year in service with Midland Red North at Stafford depot. It was damaged beyond repair in a depot fite, along with fifteen Ford Transit minibuses, three Leyland National Mark I buses, one Renault minibus and the depot itself.
A further eight Leyland Tiger coaches were acquired by Midland Red North Limited toward the end of 1991 and throughout 1992. Unlike previously, these vehicles were not all of similar type acquired from one operator, but came from various operators with a range of differing bodywork types. As before, East Lancashire Coachbuilders re-bodied these vehicles to B61F or B55F, and they entered service in white and yellow Midland Red North bus livery.
As Midland Red North acquired these vehicles from a number of different operators the registration numbers did not have a pattern to them, and therefore the fleet numbering was a little sporadic, with several gaps in the sequence. On entering service with Midland Red North, these vehicles were numbered 1730, 1733, 1735, 1737, 1738, 1740, 1742, 1743, but after the formation of the Arriva group, and the subsequent restructuring of their subsidiaries, control of some of these vehicle passed to Arriva Cymru with the depot at Oswestry, and they were renumbered.
In 1993 and 1994, Midland Red (North) Limited acquired eight second-hand Leyland Tiger buses from Timeline Travel Limited, Leigh. These vehicles were new with B55F Alexander (Belfast) N-type bodywork to Smith Shearing, but some were re-seated to B53F shortly after entering service with Midland Red (North) Limited. They entered service carring fleet numbers 1745–1752 and yellow and red Midland Red North bus livery. The following year, the company acquired another four examples, fleet numbers 1753–1756, with four more following in 1995 as fleet numbers 1759, 1760, 1771 and 1772.