On the top deck!

BDJ 807

Once a familiar sight on local roads, the light green Harpers busses. This one is taken outside Aldridge Post Office in 1974 by reader and friend of the blog Tony Martin, who kindly supplied the picture.

The above wonderful and evocative image was supplied by reader and friend of the blog Tony Martin, who spotted this classic Harpers bus in 1974. The destination board reads ‘Streetly Works’ and I guess it was performing one of the many services that used to run to local factories. Streetly works was of course the BIP, now long since gone.

I can remember riding on the top deck of one of these to Cannock with my dad when I was little. I still remember the smokey atmosphere, and the clippy with the leather satchel and hand-wound ticket machine. I recall well eagerly wiping the condensation from the front window with my sleeve…

There was still a works service that operated every morning to the BRD (latterly GKN Driveline) from Brownhills until at least the mid 1990s.

Tony had this to say:

With the open day at the former Aston Manor Transport Manor this weekend, I thought you might be interested in this photo of a Harpers bus (2 if you look carefully!) in Northgate, Aldridge in 1974.

The bus began life with St Helens Corporation, in Lancashire. It is identical to the RT buses which were entering service in London in the early 1950s. At that time, Mr R. Edgley Cox was in charge at St Helens before moving to Walsall in 1952, and as he had worked a t London Transport too, perhaps this is not surprising.

The bus is an AEC Regent III. Whilst at Walsall Mr cox bought five of the Leyland version of these buses, known as RTls.

In the background is one of Harper’s Daimler Fleetlines, probably on its way from Birmingham to Cannock. It seems this vehicle still exists, but in a sorry state.


Tony Martin

Thanks to Tony for that wonderful bit of ephemera, and a great trip down memory lane, and it’s a great opportunity to plug the open day today at Aston Manor Road Transport Museum, in Aldridge, at Shenstone Drive.

Today (Sunday, 17th March 2012), there will be a ‘Museum Re-Awakening’ event, where the general public can pop in, explore, take a ride on vintage busses, browse stalls of transport ephemera, have a shufty around and hopefully help shape this valuable collection’s future.

The people behind this museum really want to meet you, and hear what you have to say – the event runs from 10am to 5pm, is £5 for adults, £4 for kids or £15 for a family ticket. Vintage bus rides are free throughout the day.

There will be presentations about the museum at 12:00pm and 2:30pm.

This is sure to be a great event – please do pop along. The collection needs the support of the public to survive, and it really is a wonderful thing.

Why not check out the museum website or their Facebook group?


Print out and post up on your nearest noticeboard, or make flyers.

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28 Responses to On the top deck!

  1. Helen Guy says:

    One of my favourite childhood memories is going on the ‘green bus’ to Birmingham, in the school holidays 🙂

    • Mine, too. Looking into all the posh houses and gardens in Streetly, then over the flyovers into Brum. It was like a trip abroad to us kids.

      In the 80s does anyone remember the ‘Timesaver’ bus that used to go from Walsall, through Shire Oak, then on to Lichfield Turnpike, then down into Brum through Sutton? Took ages, but great fun.

      Then there were the night return services from brim: the 108(?) that used to leave at 10:20 and come all up the back end of New Oscott, all the time, the passengers drunk as lords and dying for a pee…



  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob,
    happy memories. Check out “harpers, hairbrushes and sucky fish” article for more !
    Good luck to the museum

  3. tkevcro says:

    Yes,I remember catching it in Rushall to watch the albion play Man utd in apriil 68 the albion were in the FA cup final and Utd in the Euro cup final and the game finished with a unbelievable score of 6-3 to the albion (over 60,000)and the game somehow persuaded me to side with Utd at the time but i’m still a Saddler through and through

  4. I loved the green buses too! My Grandparents lived in Kingstanding so were on them several times a week and more for me when in the early 70s I was training at Birchfield Harriers three times a week. Knew all the drivers and conductors and dare I say it, got let off paying the fare more times than i care to remember.

  5. Clive says:

    I can remember catching one of these buses to Cannock in the winter time. it was that cold Ranulph Fiennes asked for his money back!

  6. oakparkrunner says:

    Harper Brothers ran the works service to Streetly works from Brownhills area picking up on the way through Walsall Wood and Aldridge. This was initialy run by Dunn & Hale trading as Glider Tours, who were bought out by Harpers who then carried on with the Streetly works run.

    • peter says:

      Godfrey, Good Evening, Sorry to ask but what was the Streetly Works and where were they?

      • stymaster says:

        Streetly Works was British Industrial Pastics IIRC. My Dad worked there for a while. Aldridge Rd, Streetly, in the vicinity of the Bridle Lane junction, I think. Replaced by housing in the 80s or 90s.

        • Phil Burton says:

          BIP or Streetly Works as you state was on the left of the Aldridge Rd just beyond Bridle La towards Kingstanding and the car park and setting down point / picking up point for the buses was on the opposite side of the road.
          Phil Burton
          ex Harper’s Driver

  7. Ian says:

    These sort of things are why I love this Blog so much. Thanks all!

  8. Dave Edwards says:

    When I was about eleven (mid 1950s) on a Saturday morning, I would catch the Harpers bus from Walsall Wood Labour Club to Aldridge. The fare was 1 & a half pence old money. We would go to the matanee at the Avion picture house 4 pence admission. When we came out I would buy a 4 penny loaf of bread from the local bakers shop & eat the middle out of it on the bus on the way home. I would then get off the bus @ the Vigo and buy 3 pence worth of chips from the chipee to stuff into the loaf and eat on the walk home….. sheer joy.

  9. Pedro says:

    Harpers Bros 1965..

    Cannock, Heath Hayes, Norton Bridge, Brownhills, Streets Corner, Aldridge, Streetly Works, Kingstanding, Perry Barr, Six Ways, Birmingham.

    There is a timetable in the Lichfield Mercury of Oct 1965 to cut out and keep!

  10. David Evans says:

    HI Eddy
    Avion matinees, featuring Superman, were something! All in glorious black and white. . Streetly works was in Aldridge Road, Streetly..near present day Compton Drive and on that side of the road. A small tintabernacle printers workshop was opposite.Google Earth 1945 view may show it.

  11. Dave Edwards says:

    Mom worked at Streetly when it was BIP making melanine ware for the likes of the aeroplane companies. We always had plenty of cups and plates in those days

    • Phil Burton says:

      It was brilliant ware, I worked for Harpers and we took a staff party on two coaches from BIP Streetly to their factory in Maryport and we were given a box of minor seconds, print errors etc. and still to this day I still have some left after over 40 years.

  12. Anne Lee says:

    when did the first harpers bus go through to birmingham

    • Phil Burton says:

      Hi Anne, Harper’s extended the service from Kingstanding Circle into Birmingham Union St in 1964, and proudly was the only Independent Operator doing Stage Carriage in the City. Inwards to City the last pick up was at the top of Kingstanding Hill prior to the Circle, this was also the first setting down point from City. To City we were only allowed to set down passengers at Dyas Road, Perry Barr, Trinity Road, Six Ways Aston, Newtown Row, Fire Station Lancaster Circus and Union St. From City we could only pick up at those same points. Hope this is of help to you.
      Phil Burton
      Ex Harper’s Driver

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  20. ian corbett says:

    hi my name is ian corbett i lived in brookfiel road aldridge,started work in 1971 at reginald tildesleys northgate and remember catching harpers circular ,wich dropped me outside my moms house at the top of sussex avenue At work we required A.E.C regent ex-londontranspot R.T 624 DOUBLE DECKER to take to classic shows and use as advertising tildeslys i loved driving this pre-select bus and did most of the mechanical work to look after it .R.T 624 was the last working R.Tout of barking garage down london and still going strong .i had several parts of harpers up heath-hayes such as shackle pins and bushes and king pins and brake shoes ,memmories love the pictures

    • philcburton says:

      Hi Ian, I worked on Harpers during my career both as a conductor & driver. I did the Aldridge circular many times every 15 minutes in the afternoon peak. Harpers had many RT’s in the fleet both Leyland and AEC. The first ones they had was from London Transport and were 1949 AEC Regent III with Craven bodies in 1957 and were in service until 67 & 68, the next one was a 1948 Leyland 7RT with Park Royal body, this one stayed in service until the Midland Red bought out the company in 1974, Due to extending the service from Kingstanding to Birmingham they needed buses fast so in1961 they purchased seven 1951 RTA’s AEC Regent III’s with Park Royal Bodies from St Helens, The RT in the photo was one of these, it was with a sister bus fitted with driver operated Platform doors by Harpers at their body shop at High Green Cannock, it was also used as a driver training bus so the two front windows were changed over giving a wind down window behind the driver. The bus when Midland Red bought out Harpers then went into private ownership but due to ill health the conservation work wasn’t completed so now it is with Ensign Bus and will hopefully be restored to its former glory. Then in 1965 two more Leyland RT7’s were purchased from London, one a Weyman body and one a Park Royal. In 1965 the final Leyland RT7 with Metro Cammell Weyman was purchased. Six of these great buses continued in service right up until 1974 with some going to Japan. They were lovely buses to drive though freezing cold in the winter but very reliable.

      • ian corbett says:

        hi Phil its Ian Corbett again,ive only just found your reply to my small input back in January-your knowledge of buses is vast,i used to run round Aldridge island from tynings lane school to hopefully see the circular waiting opposite the post office where my dad worked as a post man for many years,but some times it wos on its way along northgate or iwould just manage to jump on sometimes not knowing if it wos the circular or not ,and then finding out along broardmeadow road if we would turn left for brookfield or right to go up to lazyhill where i wouldhave to walk back down lancaster ave.The circular wos only half-penny then(crazy) thinking back.Started at Redginald Tildesleys in 1972 only 16 years old doing apprentice with fully trained mechanic on cars, but as time went on got into the vans and heavy goods and artics (D SERIES)then,the bus came along in the 90s and i loved it,even took Henry Cooper the boxer for a ride when he came to launch the new Transit (wot a man his hand wos twice mine when i shook his) .splash it all over, remember the Brut advert . Anyway i need to know when the next bus gathering is on at northgate Aldridge soas to see and ride on these relics, perhaps i can bring along my ford Corsair to add to the intrest all the best IAN

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