Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,
This page created 30th April 2008, corrected 22nd May 2008.

The Mercedes/Wright midibuses: MW

These small batches of midibuses might be seen as insignificant, just another type in a plethora of small buses being drafted into London in a period of uncertainty. But they were unusual or significant in several ways. Perhaps most of all they introduced bodywork by Wrights of Ballymena. This builder had not featured in London bus building before, but was to provide several batches of midibus bodies, then Darts, and then burgeon into one the major body-builders. With them came Northern Ireland registrations: London buses had usually been registered in London, but Wrights tended to register them before delivery. Another difference, on the first batch for Catford, was full digital displays. The Wrights bodies soon gained a reputation for robustness, and the combination with the Mercedes Benz 811D chassis was a felicitous one. These bodies - the Nimbus range - were a pre-runner in style to the successful Handibus body on the DW Darts.

The Catford buses: MW1-16

Catford MW drawing Sixteen midibuses were delivered in November and December 1989 to Selkent District's Catford garage, where they joined the StarRiders on a variety of midibus routes, including the 108B (Sundays), 160, 181, 225 and 273. Early in December new route 284 was added to their duties.
  • 108B Sundays
  • 160 Catford, St Dunstans College - Eltham, Southend Crescent
  • 181 Lewisham Bus Station - Catford - Lower Sydenham - Downham
  • 225 Lewisham - Surrey Quays - Rotherhithe
  • 273 Lewisham Tesco - Lee - Grove Park Station
  • 284 Lewisham Bus Station - Catford - Grove Park Stn

Mobility MW drawing The batch stayed at Catford. Three of them, MW2, MW8 and MW14, had been fitted with wheelchair lifts, ordinary blinds and a dedicated livery for Mobility Services. They were all privatised to Stagecoach Selkent in September 1994. Stagecoach sent the unaltered buses to Cleveland Transit in late 1995 / early 1996, and at the end of the Mobility contract in March 1997 sent the wheelchair three to Circle Line in Gloucester.

The demonstrator: MW00

A demonstrator came from Wrights in October 1990, and spent a few months at various garages, with a trip to Portsmouth in February 1991. It spent time at Bow, Walthamstow,North Wembley, Peckham and Putney before return to Wrights. Subsequently it was bought by Stephensons of Uttoxeter.

The odd one: MW17

MW17 drawing MW17 was an experimental design by Wright. Most of the Mercedes Benz midibuses used the standard MB front structure, with a distinctive bonnet. Optare had broken the mould with the StarRider to produce their own style, and Wright tried a full-front style with MW17. The windscreen formed part of a single slope from the grille to the top of the destination box. The rest of the offside was the same as on the standard buses, but the windows on the nearside were rearranged.

MW17 was delivered to West Ham in July 1992, then went to work at Victoria Basement, with the Central London Midibus Unit. It stayed there until March 1993, when it moved out to Centrewest at Uxbridge, where it worked as a singleton amidst a horde of Alexander-bodied MAs. It moved to the midibus base at Greenford in March 1994, and was there at privatistaion. It then moved on to Alperton.

Once its service with London was done it moved west, to service with a variety of owners.

The Potters Bar buses: MW18-37

Potters Bar MW There was some surprise when London Buses bought another batch of twenty MWs in the spring of 1993. In the interim the bodywork had appeared on Renault chassis as the RW class. Had the lack of acclaim for the Renault and the consideration given to rechassising the RWs influenced a return to the MB811D?

Anyway, the new batch were given control of all the midibus workings from Potters Bar garage, and stayed there through privatisation to MTL London in October 1994. They worked until 1999-2000, when they were sold on for further service elsewhere, a sizeable number going to MK Metro in Milton Keynes.

MW15 in Stockton, August 2003 MW15 in Stockton, August 2003
In August 2003, MW15 is operating Compass Royston's "Town Link" service in Stockton-on-Tees.

Ian's Bus Stop Midibus Index. MW main text. MW histories. MW photos.