Dont miss the INFORMATION Page – with Ashley’s seasonal Topic and history,
Dont miss the TALKS LECTURES & PRESENTATIONS PAGE for information on the range of Bus, Coach and Waterways issues covered together with tailored talks (All talks can be tailored for general interest groups or for a specialist audience).
From Childhood in the late 50’s very early 1960’s, the seeds of Ashley’s passion for buses, and in particular the history of the Midland Red company were sewn. Firstly by spotting locally, then taking photographs, then slides, and later cine film and video of “anything Midland Red”.
Before leaving school, Ashley went to Midland Red’s divisional offices in Leicester for what would now be called work experience; but in his case, it was at his school’s request to “get Midland Red out of his system”. However, the prescribed medicine didn’t work and a varied 15 year career followed. Then after a short spell with both an independent coach operator and with the transport department of the County Council at Warwick, he set up WHEELS.
The WHEELS project originates from an enterprise in Leamington Spa which Ashley started with the late R.R.Paramor (Rob) – a unique combination of a transport-themed railway restaurant and a bus cafe – a “bus stop” where you could enjoy a quality coffee and snack, book a coach for a private hire, or a classic bus for a wedding. The transport at that time was externally sourced. There was also a model railway shop selling both new and second hand trains and accessories from the popular N Gauge right through to O Gauge, and over the years Ashley has had modelling experience in all three gauges.
Later when Rob Paramor retired and the original property in Leamington Spa was sold to the next door neighbour, Ashley developed WHEELS to operate its own classic buses and coaches. He was later was successful in buying the Midland Red Coaches name, so from the original WHEELS livery of Burgundy and Ivory, the classic buses were seen in the splendid Midland Red colours, including the fondly remembered and smart coach and dual purpose red and black.
In the 1960’s when Ashley originally joined Midland Red it still operated under its original and grand sounding name “The Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company”. He is eternally pleased to have had the fortune of starting at this time, as it gave him the opportunity to work with many generations of colleagues, some of whom had worked for Midland Red from the 1930’s…. and how things have changed !
During the many work-time and social conversations, he made notes, bought a cine camera, and as soon as they appeared, a video camera to capture the memories of these company employees who came through very different times and working conditions to those we have today. The Company was always outstanding in its business and especially in its advanced developments in bus and coach engineering, design and manufacture.
Since this exciting time there has been increasing change, and also interference, with the introduction of often overly complex equipment and over zealous legislation from the E.U., especially involving vehicle manufacture and operation. And so today, when the name Midland Red, once a stable and important part of everyday life, is used only for special occasions of historical interest. But, to utter the name Midland Red to anyone of a certain age from the Greater Midlands area… it still evokes nostalgia, and memories of a time when buses had Conductors, and when the only queues outside schools were children waiting for the school bus; and when a trip to London was in the fast lane of the M1 traveling at up to 100mph in one of the company’s home-made Express Coaches with their striking red and black-top livery.
Today Ashley talks about these past times with stories and anecdotes, many of which are personal and others handed down from his long-gone ex working colleagues. It’s hard for today’s youngsters to understand how a coach could do 100mph plus – or even be allowed to use the fast lane of the motorway.
Check Out the TALKS available by clicking the TALKS & PRESENTATIONS button at the top of the page.
Also Ashley writes a periodically updated and seasonally topical article on this site too.