Classic Buses Profiles

BIRMINGHAM CITY LEYLAND TIGERS


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Last updated 31 December 2016

Another look at some delightful vehicles from the past. On this page we look at Birmingham City Transport, and a single batch of Leyland Tigers that they operated in the 1950s and '60s.

No. 2245 (JOJ 245) of the Acocks Green Bus Preservation Group, seen at Aldridge in 2012. Photo by kind permission of Ken Jones.

Birmingham City Transport operated trams from 1904 and motor buses from 1912. They soon struck a deal with Midland Red to prevent conflict, and agreed to operate within the city boundaries only. Trolleybuses were also used between 1922 and 1951, and the fleet became renowned for their tin-fronted double deckers in the 1950s. In 1969 Birmingham City Transport was absorbed into the West Midlands PTE.

Single deckers were not common in Birmingham, but a few appeared, and this batch of Leyland Tigers was worthy of note. Birmingham bought 30 in 1950 to replace ageing pre-war Daimler single deckers. All had Weymann 34-seat bus bodies with several distinctive features, including a rather 'export'-looking cab and front, and a route number indicator box half-way down the nearside roof.

They were used largely on Routes 23 and 27. Route 23 was a loop from Northfield (the 23a went in the opposite direction), but it was discontinued in July 1952 and replaced by an extension of Route 27. Route 27 required single deckers because of low canal and rail bridges near the Cadbury's factory at Bournville.

Birmingham 2255

No.2255 (JOJ 255) is another survivor, seen here attending an early rally at Crich. The upright style of cab on these vehicles is apparent from this view. Photo: Kindly supplied by Andrew Gosling and taken by his wife.

(Lloyd Penfold writes; "The photograph certainly is at Crich - I was a passenger on the trip there. I think the event was one of the "Grand Transport Extravaganzas" which were held in the '70s. The offside front wing was knocked off by a car on the way there, you can see it's missing compared to the picture of 2231 above.)

Roger Carey sent me some information about the background to the use of the Tigers;

"The single deck fleet was allocated to Selly Oak garage (*). It was necessary to have single-deckers for low bridge reasons. The low bridge concerned was spectacular - a tunnel under the Birmingham and Worcester Canal and the railway line from Birmingham to Bristol at Bournville. The route was the 27 from Kings Heath that was extended to West Heath with one or two later short workings."

"The route 27 originally ran from Kings Heath to Hay Green and used single deck Daimler COG5 with front entrance bodies - similar in style to the Tigers. Shortly after the Tigers were introduced the route was extended to West Heath, almost doubling the length of the route. There was also a small batch of Olympics - very smart front entrance vehicles of which one was kept as the Transport Committee coach and was based at Miller Street garage."

* Colin Mytton tells me that about 6 of the Tigers were also allocated to Perry Barr in the late 1950s / early 1960s, and used on school services.

Andy Dickinson also sent me some memories of these Tigers;

"The page on PS2s set me thinking about these vehicles. I certainly remember them in use on the 27 route for my first year at King Edwards Camp Hill at Kings Heath (68 - 69). We used to catch them to Stirchley Baths on a Friday. But by the start of the second year (Sept '69) they had been replaced by the single deck Fleetlines."

"Regarding survivors, I remember seeing the two PS2s sold to West Bromwich Council outside some building (Town Hall) near to Wednesbury Station at the end of 1973 and possibly early 1974. However, they were withdrawn and scrapped somwhere about that time without even being offered to the preservationists. I understood that the interiors of these two vehicles were in very nice condition. The rear door area had been adapted to accept a wheelchair lift."

"Re 2257, I believe that this vehicle was the Perry Barr Garage tow truck. It was certainly there upto 1975 and possibly sometime after that. I stopped my bus spotting days about 1976 and so I cant say what happened to it up to it was bought for preservation. I seem to recall reading in 'BUSES' magazine about 1969 or 1970 that 4 PS2s had been sold to a school in Torquay, Devon. It is highly unlikely that these vehicles survive today but I do wonder what happened to them and how long they remained with this school until they were sold on for scrap."

In Nov 2007 John Minty wrote; "Have just found your site while looking for info on some other Birmingham buses. Great to see a pic of 2255 as I went to many rallies in her in the early seventies with John Berry. I didn't go on the Crich trip but went to rallies as far afield as Weymouth, Bournemouth-Bath, Blackpool, Trans-Pennine and the Robin Hood Run at Nottingham. Attached is a picture from the Nottingham trip, at a breakfast stop on the A38."

As with my other lists, 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

===============

LEYLAND PS2/1 TIGER     -      2231 - 2260 (Total 30)

Birmingham 2231

No.2231 again, the first of the batch, this time seen after retirement and preservation. It looks in fine condition. Photo: unknown.

Built in 1950

Chassis: Leyland PS2/1 bus chassis, 7 feet 6 inches wide, with 'O.600' 9.8 litre engine and syncromesh gearbox.

Body: Weymann 34-seat front-entrance bus bodies, 27 feet 6 inches long.

TOTAL 30 ( with possibly 4 Survivors )

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