Hugh Dougherty goes back in time

IF, like me, you're old enough to remember the days when buses had

radiators at the front, carried clippies full of character and patter to

match their hairdos, and rattled and roared like real buses, then taking

a bus ride back along a time-travel route to East Whitburn is for you.

For the West Lothian village is home to the Scottish Vintage Bus

Museum, a collection of 50 of the finest buses to grace Scottish city

streets and country roads over the past 70 years.

The museum opens its gates every Sunday afternoon, from around 1pm, to

let the public see the vintage Leylands, Daimlers, and Bristols that lie

within the former road haulage depot that is now their home.

You'll remember the smells, sights, and sounds of the bus that took

you to school, transported you to your first date, or, like me, provided

student work as conductor, and, after due promotion, as driver, too.

See, once again, those well-remembered letters on the side of all

Glasgow buses of Corporation times: ''ERL Fitzpayne, General Manager.

''Few cities could claim a real ''Earl'', as their bus chief, I always

used to wonder who this gentleman was.

Not that there's any problem about finding out the identities of the

people behind this unique, and fully operational museum.

One of the driving forces, if you'll excuse the pun, is Stirling man,

Jasper Pettie, who owns several of the more prime exhibits parked around

the yard.

''We've been open since 1986,'' said Jasper, as he lovingly washed his

vintage SMT, Leyland double-decker.

''Many folk thought of us as real cranks in those days, but, since

then, owning and restoring old buses has become respectable and people

take us very seriously indeed.''

School parties do visit the museum by special arrangement and Jasper,

one of the museum trustees, and a 48-year-old chartered accountant in

real life, is more than happy for the museum fleet to play its part in

teaching youngsters about the past.

''Many of the vehicles are hired out for film purposes and have

appeared in television series,'' he added. ''We are also recognising

that vintage buses have considerable tourist potential.''

But most of the bus owners at East Whitburn lovingly rebuild and

preserve their buses to recapture the sheer nostalgia of days gone down

the route of time.

Douglas Forbes, a psychology lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian

University, doubles on Sunday afternoons as a living, vintage bus


Visitors are quite convinced that the overall-clad figure, lying under

a Bristol Lodekka of 1967 vintage, must be a real bus mechanic.

''I drove buses just like this one on the Central SMT when I was a

student back in the late sixties,'' explained Douglas. ''I suppose you

could say that I'm restoring my youth as well as the bus.''

And enjoying a real busman's holiday is Dougie King of East Kilbride,

hard at work every Sunday afternoon restoring the very Ailsa-Volvo

Strathclyde bus that he drove in service at Larkfield Depot.

''Yes,'' he admitted. ''I'm a bus driver at Larkfield. I couldn't bear

to see this bus scrapped, so I spend my off-duty Sundays making it as

good as new. Some of the lads at Larkfield think I'm mad. But, I can

tell you this: when AV1's back in full working order, they'll all be

queuing up to drive her.''

Enthusiasm is the name of the game at East Whitburn, tempered, in the

case of Glasgow businessman and bus fan Mike Roulston, with sound

business sense.

He owns a superb mini-fleet of former Glasgow buses, and he's hired

them out for political rallies in George Square, public relations

promotional stunts, and even weddings.

''I garage the buses at the museum and make them available for hire

through my firm, Bus and Coach Developments,'' explained Mike. ''I've

even bought a former London Routemaster and put it into the old Glasgow


The Scottish Vintage Bus Museum is the route to instant nostalgia, and

the buses are supplemented by a growing collection of destination

blinds, tickets, ticket machines, and uniforms.

* The Scottish Vintage Bus Museum is open every Sunday afternoon

between 1pm and 5pm. Access is via the M8 Motorway, Junction 4, when

travelling from Glasgow to Edinburgh.