Browns Blue to Midland Red

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A superb drone shot showing part of the Coalville site, the industrial backdrop brightened by three vehicles in the smart Midland Fox colour scheme. JACOB PETERFIELD-STRAW

Nick Larkin reports from a unique event commemorating 60 years since a sudden overnight change for Leicestershire’s buses

People across a wide area of Leicestershire woke on 16 March 1963 to find their local buses had suddenly changed colour. The county’s largest independent operator, Browns Blue, had been taken over by the massive Midland Red concern, with none of the 41-strong fleet being operated by the new owner. Where there had been blue buses the previous day, red ones now ruled. The Leicester Transport Heritage Trust (LTHT) recently commemorated the 60th anniversary of the change with a ‘Browns Blue turns Midland Red’ event.

Some 25 buses and coaches took part, many ex-Midland Red. None of the 144 vehicles Browns Blue operated are known to survive, but the operator was represented by a star of the show, Mick Gamble’s 1949 former London Transport AEC RT KLB 596. This has been superbly outshopped as a replica of one of the nine buses of this type bought by Browns Blue in 1958. This was RT173, HLW 160, the only one not fitted with a roof mounted number box. The bus was bought in 2011 from Roger Bailey at Black & White Motorways, being painted in Browns Blue colours before collection.


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