From Our Collection
Birmingham City Transport OV 4486
1929-31 BIRMINGHAM CORPORATION DOUBLE-DECKER
Reg No: OV 4486 - new 1931
Chassis: AEC Regent
Engine: AEC 6.1 litre petrol
Body: Metro-Cammell 51 seats (to operator’s design)
This bus is the subject of a major restoration project, for more details click here
Birmingham Corporation purchased most of its buses from AEC between the years 1922-32. Design development during this time was rapid so the later ‘Regent’ models bore little resemblance to the earlier buses, although petrol engines were still standard. Double-deckers of this period had front upper decks nicknamed ‘piano fronts’ and Birmingham’s Regents certainly deserved the title! Various bodybuilders were involved but the last 20 Regents had bodies by Metro-Cammell to its new, very robust, metal-framed design.
No. 486 entered service from Harborne garage on 4 December 1931 where it remained until June 1934 then passing to Barford Street garage. It moved again to Perry Barr in May 1935, to Liverpool Street in September 1936 and returned to Perry Barr in February 1939. It was one of thirty Birmingham Regents briefly loaned to London after the initial wartime blitzes and ran from Turnham Green garage. Withdrawal of Birmingham’s Regents had begun in 1937 but the solid Metro-Cammell examples were not initially in the firing line. By 1944, however, wartime shortages meant most were in need of a major overhaul. 486 ironically became the first Metro-Cammell example to be withdrawn in April 1944 following engine failure. It was stored until the war ended and sold to a breaker in July 1946 for scrap.
23 years later, well away from a main road, along increasingly obscure lanes to what was little better than a dirt track, 486 was discovered as a home for an elderly gentleman - an astonishing find. The bus was vacated and saved from scrapping by its itinerant buyers by a local Birmingham bus group in 1970. The removal exercise can be easily imagined! The same group also acquired a former London Regent chassis to provide spares. Unfortunately the magnitude of the task without good accommodation was too much so 486 was sold on to a London preservationist but happily returned to Birmingham in November 1973, now owned by the Museum’s predecessor society. The body had, by now, deteriorated badly, the nearside having collapsed. Time and financial constraints have meant that restoration work has been spasmodic until now. All necessary mechanical units are now gathered together and being overhauled. Body restoration has reached the point it can be reunited with the chassis. 486 is one of our most delightful exhibits and we eagerly await the ability to complete its restoration.