Diamond BUS Introduction

Diamond bus started life at The Birmingham Coach Company which was formed in 1984 by Geoff Howle as a small independent coach operator. With bus de-regulation in October 1986 the whole direction of the company changed.

Geoff Howle decided to plug a gap in provision on the service 16 from the Hamstead to Birmingham by registering a service primarily linked to providing transport for students at Birmingham University from their halls of residents to the campus. This became the first competing bus route to be registered in the West Midlands by an independent operator against West Midlands Travel. The company continued to develop both its bus and coach operations becoming very reliant on mark one Leyland Nationals for the former.

Around 2000 the company embarked on a fleet replacement programme, which totally replaced the Leyland Nationals with a mixture of new and second hand, vehicles. As part of this programme the livery was altered and the Diamond Bus trading name was introduced. The Diamond Bus network served West Bromwich, Dudley and Walsall, as well as providing commercial services in north and west Birmingham. Some of the services were subsided by Centro and or Worcestershire County Council. The company became a fairly large provider of vehicles for National Express services and opened a new satellite depot opened in Bradford in 2003 for some of these services (With a reduction in the operation of National Express services the Bradford depot was closed in the autumn of 2006).

On 5th December 2005 the company was purchased by the Go-Ahead Group for a total price of up to 2.025 million. Go-Ahead planed to develop the Diamond Bus brand in the West Midlands. On 22nd February 2006 Go-Ahead announced that they had agreed in principle to acquire the assets and services of Probus Management Ltd (People's Express and formally Pete's Travel) for around 2.4 million. The actual completion of the sale took place on Tuesday 21st March 2006. The two operations were then consolidated under the Diamond bus brand name. From 22nd March 2006 The operation of all services that were operated by People's Express were transferred without change to Diamond Bus (In Redditch this meant journeys on the following routes in Redditch were transferred - 57, 58, 146, 247 and 343).   

The combined company went through a period of restructure to make it more like fellow Go-ahead bus operating subsidiaries:

  • On Wednesday 24th August 2006 Go-ahead group PLC owners of The Birmingham Coach Company announced today a restructuring of their West Midlands business. The Birmingham Coach Company Ltd was renamed Go West Midlands Ltd and from that date the company traded as Diamond in the West Midlands instead of Diamond Bus

  • A new livery has been introduced for the combined fleet which was the then current Diamond Bus livery but without the black roof. Repainting started with the yellow vehicles from the former People's Express operation that were to remain in the fleet.

  • From early September 2006 Go West Midlands started to share the same Managing Director, Philip Kirk, as City of Oxford a fellow Go-ahead company

  • A new fleet numbering scheme was introduced from Sunday 24th September 2006. This was in fact a part renumbering as some vehicles had acquired fleet numbers in early September 2006 only to re-numbered latter in the month so vehicle types were allocated blocks of numbers.

  • The new Diamond in the West Midlands fleet names were applied to vehicles as they are repainted from early October 2006.

  •  From 22nd October 2006 vehicles and services will be moved between garages so that at the time all remaining Centro contracts were operated from the Tivadale garage.

  •  It was planned to reopen  the Redditch garage  from late October 2006 (this is the former Midland Red Church Road garage) for the operation of Redditch local services plus the Diamond service 50 between Druids Heath and Birmingham City Centre.

  • The Redditch garage reopened initially on a Mondays to Saturdays between 0600 and 2000 basis only, though it soon once again became a seven day a week garage.

  • The re-opening of the Redditch depot was delayed whilst the application to change the operators license was processed. Diamond Bus finally re-opened the Redditch Garage (the former Midland Red Garage) over the weekend of the 10th and 11th February 2007. This followed an extensive refurbishment. 

  • The former Pete's Travel/People's Express garage at Hill Top closed as an operational garage over the weekend of the 10th and 11th November 2007. The majority of vehicles were transferred to the Tivadale Garage. From the same weekend all of the remaining step entrance vehicles were withdrawn from service.

All was not well with Diamond Bus and the Go-ahead Group undertook a review of the West Midlands bus operations and announced on 3rd March 2008 that it had completed the unconditional sale of 100% of the share capital of the company to Rotala plc ('Rotala'). The gross asset value of the business was approximately 1 million and the net book value was approximately nil. Owning the former companies of The Birmingham Coach Company and People's Express cost the Go-ahead group a total 10.2M to both purchase and restructure the two operations into the Diamond operation. The sale to Rotala only realised 2M hence why Go-ahead had to make provision for the remaining 8.2M in their half yearly accounts published in December 2007.

  •  From Monday 21st July 2008 Rotala started to put a number of new buses mainly Volvo B7R single deckers into service. Some of the new vehicles were allocated to the Redditch depot and branded as Red Diamond. The remainder of the new vehicles were being used in the Black Country branded as Black Diamond.

  • Following the purchase of the Ludlow's of Halesowen the operation was merged with Diamond bus operations with the closure of the  Ludlow's depot in Halesowen from Sunday 25th January 2009

  •  In September 2009 a new depot was opened at Droitwich to operate Worcestershire contracted bus services in both Droitwich and Worcester areas.

  •  With the reduction in funds available for bus subsidy in Worcestershire the Diamond bus operation in Worcestershire was drastically reduced from Sunday 24th April 2011. From that date the only services operated in Worcestershire were 51, 57A, 58A, 61 and 70 plus evening and Sunday journeys on 143, 146 and 247 in Redditch. The Droitwich local services, the 362,363 and 383 to the south of Worcester plus a number of late evening journeys in Worcester. 

  • During September and October 2011 Diamond bus adopted a new five figure group vehicle number system. Many vehicles carried both their new five figure number and their old 3 figure number.

  •  At 0700 on Thursday 24th January 2012 it was announced that Rotala PLC had agreed to the acquire the Redditch and Kidderminster First Bus Garages  - click for the official announcement

  • The actual take over took place on Sunday 3rd March when Diamond bus took over the operation of all First Midland bus services in both Redditch and Kidderminster. This followed the purchase of the Redditch and Kidderminster depots from First Group for 1.5M.