Freight Rover Carlyle

A 1987 Carlyle-bodied Freight Rover minibus for North Western.


A Carlyle-bodied Dart owned by New World First Bus in Hong Kong.

Ford minibus

A van derived Ford Transit minibus with Carlyle bodywork, new in 1986

Carlyle Works Limited was a manufacturer of bodywork for minibuses and later midibuses, located in Egbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Carlyle Works was the central engineering works for Midland Red, once one of the largest bus operators in the United Kingdom. The company was famous for building its own buses and coaches, under the BMMO name. These buses were typically very innovative and were the first to introduce many advanced features. When the development and production of its own vehicles became prohibitive in the late 1960s the central works continued to provide heavy engineering services for the company. In 1968 Midland Red became part of the National Bus Company, and Carlyle Works provided engineering services for other National Bus Company operators. These services included major vehicle modifications and adaptations.

In the mid-1980s minibuses became very popular for operators, allowing them to provide higher frequency service on routes that could serve areas larger vehicles could not access. Carlyle developed a range of bodywork for minibuses, notably Ford Transit conversions.

The National Bus Company was privatised in the late 1980s, and Midland Red was divided into five operating companies plus the Carlyle Works. On 5 March 1987 Carlyle Works Limited became the twenty second company to be privatised. It was purchased by Frontsource Limited, a private company set up by Robert Beattie to manage the central works facilities of eight former NBC companies.

Carlyle set about building upon its minibus expertise, and developed bodywork for the Freight Rover chassis. These sold well, especially to former NBC operators. Designs for Mercedes Benz 700 and 800 series and Iveco vehicles followed.

In 1989 the body designs for the Duple Dartline were acquired from Trinity Holdings, who were closing the Duple business. This body was designed for the Dennis Dart and was adapted to 8.5m, 9.0m and 9.8m lengths. Carlyle completed 140 of an order for the 8.5m vehicles from London Buses Ltd. Warrington Borough Transport bought most (13) of the 9.0m versions. The 9.8m version was bought by China Motor Bus (later New World First Bus) and Luton & District. Small numbers of each were bought by other independent operators.

New orders became increasingly hard to find, as the minibus vogue had ended and competing bodywork for the Dennis Dart was proving more popular. In 1992 Carlyle closed. The rights to the Dartline were sold to bodybuilder Marshall.

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