Gettin’ the buzz

Get your anoraks on, we’re going to be engaging in a little bus spotting this week. I’ve been meaning to cover bus services in this feature for a few weeks, as there are plenty of old bus photos about, but it wasn’t until I started searching that I discovered the magical treasury of images on flickr by user and bus fan Walsall1955. In their stream you’ll find excellent images and descriptions of Walsall busses past and present.

For all those who’ve spent time bored on the 394, 33, 67, 362, 156, 995, 347 or X55, shivering in winter, sweltering in summer, nose pressed up against the window or in the top deck front seat pretending to be driver, this is for you. Whether you’re a half fare hopper, Saturday shopper, sleeper, a chatterer or never have the right change, there’s usually a bus going somewhere in Brownhills.

I guess this would have been the very beginning of public transport for the masses in the area. There are several photos of these busses in service floating around, but I like this one best. I love the range of people in the crowd. Taken from ‘Around Pelsall & Brownhills in old photographs’ by David F. Vodden.

An odd bus, but a great 1985 period shot of Brownhills High Street with the old MEB showroom in the background. This one is worth examining full size for the extraneous details. Taken by Walsall1955 and spotted on flickr.

View the above original on Walsall1955’s flickr stream.

Harper’s busses, in the familiar green drab livery, were a regular sight in Brownhills for years. I remember going to Cannock on one with my dad – they still had clippies with big leather satchels and ticket machines. Taken from ‘Around Pelsall and Brownhills’ by David F Vodden.

I seem to remember lots of these little busses – this one in 1987 – operating on local routes just after deregulation in the eighties. When introduced, they were hail and ride, and you could flag them down anywhere on route and hop on. Taken by Walsall1955, and spotted on flickr.

View the above original on Walsall1955’s flickr stream.

I’ll be perfectly honest, I haven’t a clue what this is all about and am inviting comment from readers. I think I recognise the house as being near the Shire Oak Junction, but after that, I know nothing more than the caption. Any ideas? From ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.

This isn’t in Brownhills, but the bus (operated by Midland Red but still in Harpers livery, whom they had just taken over) was on the then Cannock – Brownhills – Kingstanding – Birmingham route that survives today as the 56. Many will have grim recollections of falling asleep on an evening service after imbibing in town and waking up at the terminus. Travelling into Brum on the top deck on a sunny day, however, was a joy. Oh to look into the posh gardens of Aldridge and Streetly! Taken by Walsall1955 and spotted on Flickr.

View the above original on Walsall1955’s flickr stream.

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13 Responses to Gettin’ the buzz

  1. Andy Hollyhead says:

    Thanks for jogging my memory about the mini buzz. These were my Grandad’s favourite when they tootled around his estate in Hill Top, West Brom, he thought it was the height of poshness to be dropped off at the door on the way back from town.
    Alas the service wasn’t sustainable, and regrettably Grandad died in 1992 of a heart attack whilst catching a ‘big bus’ (79 I think) into West Brom.
    This article has inspired me to take a picture of my ‘beloved’ 56 next time I get the chance.

  2. stymaster says:

    The Swinnerton’s pic: Goodfellows Garage was a Peugeot dealer at the Tantarra St premises mentioned a few years back IIRC- it was a used car sales place last time I passed- it faces on to Ablewell St.

    Goodfellows moved out to the old Aldridge airport, and is now Arbury, still a Peugeot dealer.

    There’s still a business called Swinnertons in town, that sells party/fancy goods: no idea if they’re connected.

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  4. Pedro says:

    Hi Bob,

    As an aside here is a post card of the Malta Buses that I picked up in 1994, mostly originally brought over from England…

    Sadly 10 years later most had disappeared, and even worse this year Aviva won a contract to renew all buses on Malta. And Aviva had been taken over by a German Company.

    They could not break into the George Cross Island during the War!

    All the best Pedro

  5. stymaster says:

    Well, if it was Malta buses you were talking about, I blogged about it here, and there’s a pic here and another here. It’s sad they’re going or gone.

  6. Pablo Oplywiss says:

    Super link – my dad worked for the different incarnations of WMPTE until deregulation in 1986 when he took redundancy. I’ve childhood memories of spending days with him on the 158.

    Due to being board at home in 1988 he was persuaded to drive for Chase. After 3 days his coach failed it’s MOT with due to a looming catasprohic failure of the steering column & he never went back.

  7. Graeme Fisher says:

    Ah, Harper Bros…….

    They linked Stonnall with the outside world!

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  9. Nick says:

    From streets corner and towards Aldridge…(Aldridge rd ?) there used to be an Azda or some other kind of department chain store on the right hand side after a mile or so from B’hills. By the side of that the used to be a vehicle breakers and they occasionally had old busses there too…I remember sneaking in there with a mate to play in them (when the owners dog wasn’t there)…lol

    • The name you’re after is, I think, Meadowmarket. Not sure if it was part of a chain or not. Just another in the list of lost supermarket names in the UK, like Finefare, MacFisheries, Victor Value, Anthony Jackson, George Mason, Hillards, MacMarket, Kwik Save, Presto…

      Didn’t know there was a breakers there.



      • Nick says:

        Yes this must have been around late 60’s early 70’s….The breakers yard stood between the road (B’hills – Ald) and the store. I dont think it was a food store though…more like a B+Q hardware store or something, although it would have been called something else then. I remember trying to ‘negotiate’ the purchase of an old Transit van with the owner…so we started slowly by buying a rear light bulb..haha..just to start us off…and I still have an engine name plate from an AEC double decker he had there.


  10. WILL says:


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