Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Midland Red Style!

I of course make no secret of the fact that I'm a transport enthusiast - as many people who work in public transport are!

I'm just nearing the end of an incredibly fascinating and beautifully illustrated book - "Midland Red Style" - by Midland Red experts Malcolm Keeley & Roger Torode.

The book really expands from what you might term an "anorak's book" into something that will engage lovers of recent history i.e. from the turn of the 20th Century.

I wasn't lucky enough to be born into the heyday of this extraordinary company. My earliest memory of buses was from when they were being painted from red to WMPTE's cream and blue livery (when WMPTE took over the Birmingham & Black Country operations) - indeed that was what sparked my lifelong love of buses - playing a game with my mum when we went shopping on the bus as to whether it would be red or cream & blue! I'd be around 4 years old!

By then, Midland Red was in decline, but I've since read lots of books about this amazing operation and I guess I'm one of many Midland Red "lovers" who have so much respect for what that company achieved.

The book itself describes how the company went to incredible lengths to market itself in an age where the motor car was still in its infancy. Midland Red buses were the gateway to freedom for so many, both for local journeys and further afield - fancy travelling from Birmingham to Llandudno in 1921 in an open top charabanc!! What an incredible experience that must have been!

The book is beautifully illustrated with lots of the posters that advertised places to visit - much in the style of the famous railway posters of the 30s that are wonderful pieces of our transport heritage. If you're into Art Deco style, this book is for you!

The company even offered to bring lantern slides for lectures on how trips could be organised - soloist and pianist optional extras!

Of course, we live in a vastly different world today and marketing public transport is a completely different ball game, but it is both fascinating and wonderful to take a glimpse into the world of the 20s & 30s and the efforts of one Orlando Cecil Power - one half of the Midland Red Management as Traffic Manager - who was every bit as forward thinking as today's leading bus people in pushing his product to the masses.

The book isn't cheap at £25, but its a real quality book, and one that I recommend wholeheartedly.

Available from the usual outlets such as Amazon and the Ian Allan bookshops.

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