First Midland Red was once part of the mighty Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company which was formed in 1904. The company expanded steadily throughout the Midlands running buses in an area that covered from the Welsh borders in the west; the Potteries in the north; the borders of Nottinghamshire in the east and to Gloucestershire in the South.
Bus usage went into a steady decline after the second world war and by the late 1960's the then Labour Government decided to Nationalise the bus industry and so in England and Wales the National Bus Company was born. In Metropolitan areas Passenger Transport Executives were formed with the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive being created in the heart of the Midland Red operating area. The Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company became part of the National Bus Company. With it went many of unique features of the Midland Red such as building of its own buses which ended in 1970.
During the early 1970's Midland Red was losing money and so in 1973 an agreement was reached with the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive for them to purchase the bus services in the West Midlands County. On 1st December 1973 the transfer of 413 vehicles and 6 garages was made by way of a transitional company called Midland Red (Metropolitan) Ltd.
The remaining Midland Red company now know as Midland Red Omnibus Ltd invested the money from the sale in new vehicles. The company soldiered on until the late 1970's when with the enactment of the Transport Act 1980 meant the process of privatisation of the bus industry was started. It was decided to split many of the National Bus Company subsidiaries into smaller companies that could be easily sold off. On 6th September 1981 Midland Red Omnibus Ltd was split into the following companies:
|Midland Red (North) Ltd - based a Cannock and operating mainly in the Counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire and North Warwickshire.|
|Midland Red (East) Ltd - based at Leicester and operating mainly in the County of Leicestershire|
|Midland Red (South) Ltd - based at Rugby and operating mainly in the Counties of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire|
|Midland Red (West) Ltd - based at Worcester and operating mainly in the County of Hereford and Worcester|
|Midland Red (Express) Ltd - based at Digbeth in Birmingham and responsible for all the Coaching activities which was mainly National Express and National Holidays contract work.|
|Midland Red Omnibus Ltd - Kept what remained from the split which was basically the Central works at Edgbaston in Birmingham and the lease on the Bull Ring Bus Station in Birmingham City Centre - This lease was transferred to Midland Red North in 1982 and Midland Red West in 1987.|
The smaller operating units were designed around County boundaries as the new companies still had to operate until 1986 on the pre-deregulation "Network Support" form of subsidy. The County Council's agreed a level of service with the operator and then gave a blanket subsidy to them to run the services. This is why the new Midland Red West which was formed out of the old Southern Division of Midland Red based at Worcester didn't include Stratford garage which had been in the Southern Division Stratford on Avon is in Warwickshire so it was included with Midland Red South. At the split in 1981 the garage at Ludlow was still open and as Ludlow is in Shropshire it became part of Midland Red North which meant the X92 service from Hereford to Birmingham (which Ludlow Garage had an input in) was a joint service between Midland Red West and Midland Red North. Only when Ludlow garage closed did the whole of the X92 pass to Midland Red West.
First Midland Red Buses Ltd was originally Midland Red (West) Ltd when it came into being on 5th September 1981 and was given the operators license number PD480 by the West Midland Traffic Commissioner (under the national computerised system this is now PD0000480). When the company was privatised on 22nd December 1986 it became Midland Red West Ltd. As part of a general change in policy by the First Group it became First Midland Red Buses Ltd on 26th March 1999. The company had traded as First Midland Red since April 1998 and is now corporately referred to as First Midlands West.