First Midlands

First Midlands

One of First Midland Red's Alexander Dennis Enviro300s
Founded 1999
Headquarters Leicester/Stoke-On-Trent
Locale Worcestershire, Leicester, Stoke-On-Trent, Northamptonshire
Service area English Midlands
Service type Urban and interurban bus services
Operator FirstGroup

First Midlands is an operating unit of FirstGroup operating in the English Midlands. The unit was formed in 2008 with the merger of the management and administration of First Midland Red, First Northampton and First Leicester.

In 2010, the Staffordshire, along with the Crewe depot of First Potteries was transferred to First Midlands. First Midlands is the management level operations of First Midland Red, First Potteries, First Northampton and First Leicester.

The combined "group" has First Potteries' legal addresses for the Potteries and Leicester operations, while First Midland Red and First Northampton retaining (currently) legals for the Abbey Lane (Leicester) depot/HQ of First Leicester.

Operating companies

First Midland Red

First Midland Red began life as Midland Red (West) Limited, one of five bus operating companies created when the National Bus Company's massive Midland Red Omnibus Company Limited subsidiary was split in 1981 in preparation for privatisation. It was created in September 1981 with a fleet of 183 vehicles and usied the trading name Midland Red West.[1]

In November 1985 the company introduced a fleet of 60 new minibuses to operate its urban network in Worcester as part of a new high-frequency service within the City. Similar but much smaller minibus services were launched for the Kidderminster and Stourport areas a year later. In December 1986 the company was sold by the NBC to Midland Red West Holdings Limited, a management buyout company created by Midland Red (West) Limited's employees. There was also a minor change in the company name, from Midland Red (West) Limited to Midland Red West Limited. The management buyout also took the 40-vehicle fleet of Midland Red Coaches, which was merged with the main operation.[1]

In 1988 Midland Red West Holdings Limited was acquired by Badgerline Holdings Limited (a management buyout company which had purchased Badgerline Limited from the NBC operating rural services around the Bristol area).[2]

In 2008 the registered office of First Midland Red Buses Limited moved from Worcester to that used by First Leicester in Abbey Lane, Leicester.

First Leicester

DBC 190C A preserved 1964 Leicester City Transport AEC Renown bus

First Leicester is the descendant of the former municipal bus operations of Leicester City Council, Leicester City Transport (itself descended from Leicester Corporation Tramways. Under bus deregulation in 1986, the council operation was incorporated as the council owned but arms length private company, Leicester Citybus Ltd. This was sold in November 1993 to the emerging GRT Group, shortly after Northampton council had sold its operations to the group.

First Potteries

The company began life as Potteries Motor Traction Limited or PMT. It expanded beyond its Staffordshire base into Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester and in 1989/90 PMT acquired the Wirral, Chester and Stalybridge operations of Crosville from the Drawlane Group but not the Manchester, Runcorn and Warrington operations of Crosville which were integrated into Drawlane's North Western/associated Bee Line Buzz Company divisions. PMT was later purchased by the Badgerline Group plc before they in turn merged with GRT Holdings plc and formed FirstGroup, this sale including Crosville's operations in Chester and Wirral.

First Potteries now operates mainly urban services in Stoke and surrounding towns.

Former Operations

The former operations in Cheshire (Birkenhead and Chester) are (as of April 2011) now part of First Manchester Ltd, which includes First Greater Manchester.

First Northampton

This bus company was originally a municipal one owned and operated by the town's borough council.[3] In 1993 the council sold the company to the Grampian Regional Transport GRT Group, which became part of FirstGroup in 1995. Operations in Northampton finally ceased on 14 September 2013 after years of heavy losses. The legal entity of First Northampton ceased to trade with the Luton Airport shuttle having passed to First Essex's O Licence some months previously.


Sale of Kidderminster and Redditch Depots

On 24 January 2013 FirstGroup announced that they were selling Kidderminster and Redditch depots to Rotala for £1.5 million. The deal will see around one hundred and twenty staff and thirty six vehicles transfer from First to Rotala along with the depots and the associated equipment.[4]


  1. 1 2 Cole, David (2008). "From Poppy to Barbie: The vehicles of Midland Red West". In Stewart J. Brown. Buses Yearbook 2009. Ian Allan Publishing. pp. 66–77. ISBN 978-0-7110-3295-8.
  2. Competition Commission report (1989) Archived 1 January 2011 at WebCite
  3. Northampton Borough council moves to privatise bus operations - Local Government Chronicle Archived 1 January 2011 at WebCite
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