Classic Buses Profiles

MIDLAND GENERAL   -   AEC REGALS


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Last updated 8 January 2016

Another look at some delightful vehicles from the past. On this page we turn to Midland General and some of the AEC single deckers they operated from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Here is No.175 (KRR 255), one of only two survivors from all the vehicles listed on this page, seen at a rally at Swanwick Junction in July 2004. Note that the AEC badge on the radiator grille has been replaced with the operator's 'MGO' logo. Photo by David Beardmore.

The Midland General Omnibus Company Limited operated in an area within and surrounding Derbyshire, and had a very varied fleet in the period from the end of the second world war to the 1960s.

As well as the AEC Regals that we examine here, they operated a pair of pre-war Leyland TS8 Tigers with Weymann bus bodies and a fleet of 25 Leyland PS1 Tigers built in 1948. The latter had Saunders front-entrance bus bodies seating 35 (or in some cases 32) and were numbered 200 to 224 (KRB 86 to KRB 110).

Among their double deckers they had a mixture of Guy, Leyland, Bristol and AEC products. The oldest machines still around in the early 1960s were some utility-bodied Guy Arabs dating back to 1943/44, which were being progressively withdrawn at the time. Once again the variety of the fleet was apparent, as the bodies were built variously by Northern Counties, Brush and Weymann. Among the Weymann-bodied examples were two lowbridge buses of which one, No. 415 (GRR 62) had been acquired from their associate concern, Mansfield District - also part of the old Balfour Beatty group of companies. This was not the only ex Mansfield vehicle in the fleet, as we shall see.

A selection of AEC Regents - all with Weymann bodies - a large batch of 1950s Bristol Lodekkas, and even a lone 1947 Leyland Titan PD1 completed the double deck fleet. Finally, as would be expected of a Tilling / B.T.C. operator, there were about 50 single-deck ECW-bodied Bristol LS6Gs and MW6Gs built in the mid to late 1950s.

So, as can be seen, this was a fascinating collection representing examples of the most common vehicles available to operators during the immediate post-war period, all looking attractive in their blue and cream colour scheme. But it is the AEC Regals that are the subject of this page.

The Regals shown below are listed in order of date of manufacture (or acquisition), rather than fleet number, and we therefore start with what were actually the oldest vehicles in the whole fleet by 1960, two remaining Regals from a 1936 batch of ten; and we end with a batch of 12 buses bought from Mansfield District as late as 1960.

As with my other lists, the mistakes are bound to creep in, and some relevant information may be missing so, in order to make it as accurate a reference as possible, I would of course welcome any additions or corrections.


FLEET LIST

==========

AEC REGAL 1   -   156 - 165 (Total 10)

Built in May/June 1936

Chassis: AEC Regal 662 with petrol engines, refitted with 7.7 litre oil engines in 1949.

Body: Stylish Weymann 32-seat front-entrance coach bodies with recessed door and roof luggage pannier, converted to 35-seat bus configuration in 1949.

Notes: Part of a batch of ten bought in 1936. Four were impressed for military service in the early part of World War II and their fleet numbers used again in 1947, the remaining six being converted to oil engines and bus seating in 1949. Of these six, four were retired in 1959, and the final two lasted for another year or so.



AEC REGAL 1   -   53 - 127 (not consecutive) (Total 10)

Built in April 1938

Chassis: AEC Regal O662 with diesel engine.

Body: Weymann 35-seat front-entrance dual-purpose body

Notes: Dave Farrier mailed me to say that the chassis of 126 bus survived, having been running for Malta Bus Service since about 1955 with a Debono rebody. Dave was the person who identified it in 1991. He gained access to the police records and traced its logbook, which provided the O662 chassis number. A quick phone call to Mike Fenton confirmed the identity. He has photos of it in green livery and yellow livery.

Mike Penn confirmed it was still active in Malta in October 2003, re-registered as FBY 647, but that registration was re-issued to another vehicle shortly afterwards, so it may have been withdrawn and scrapped.



AEC REGAL 1   -   151 - 173 (not consecutive) (Total 7)

ERA 926

Photo by Derek Brown shows 172 at Alfreton Depot in the 1960s while being used as a snowplough.

Built in April 1938

Chassis: AEC Regal O662 with diesel engine

Body: Weymann 32-seat front-entrance dual-purpose body



AEC REGAL   -   13 - 133 (not consecutive) (Total 20)

Built Jan/Feb 1939

Chassis: AEC Regal O662 with diesel engines

Body: Weymann dual-purpose front-entrance 35-seat body



AEC REGAL   -   41 - 44 (Total 4)

Midland General Regal No.41

Nigel Lemon kindly sent me this picture of No.41 after its retirement from Midland General service. He describes it as; "JRB 127 [AEC Regal/Duple] when operated by the People's College of Further Education, Nottingham on a wet day in February 1966. My long-term memory suggests that the roof rack seemed to contain canoe-related things whilst the side 'route boards' carried the words of the institution where it was, the said People's College of Further Education."

But Bob Luger was able to provide more information. He wrote; "What a surprise to see JRB 127 on your website. Never mind carrying canoes, this bus took me and several others to Moscow in 1965. Despite a cracked wheel in London, and a cracked cylinder head in Frankfurt, and a crash in Poland, we had a memorable trip bearing in mind that Khrushchev was still in charge! The whole trip took 3 weeks. By the end of the journey we had discarded the bonnet and radiator grille in an attempt to keep the engine cool. Late for the return ferry we coasted in neutral down hills to try and squeeze more than 45 mph."

Built in 1946-47

Chassis: AEC Regal

Body: Duple 35-seat front-entrance dual-purpose bodies



AEC REGAL   -   174 - 185 (Total 12)

Midland General AEC Regal No.175

No.175 (KRR 255) had previously been Mansfield District No.9, and is seen here probably at Langley Mill in the early-mid 1960s. Photo by kind permission of John Law.

Built in 1949-50 for Mansfield District, but acquired by Midland General in 1960.

Chassis: AEC Regal III 9621E with 9.6 litre diesel engines

Body: Weymann 35-seat front-entrance dual-purpose (bus or coach) bodies

Notes: Originally ordered by Mansfield District these 12 buses served in Mansfield for ten years as part of a batch of 24 in that fleet. Their acquisition by Midland General then gave them another lease of life, and one example has survived into preservation. The withdrawal from service of Nos.175 and 176 in 1967 marked the end of halfcab single decker operation by Midland General.



TOTAL 63 ( with 2 Survivors - 126 as a possible chassis, and 175 complete )

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