TRUNDLING across the Capital, rekindling memories and sparking the curiosity of those too young to remember them, Lothian Buses’ Heritage Fleet were the stars of last week’s Doors Open Day.
Back in service, on a curtailed No 26 route for one day only, the 10 buses, restored to their original glory by Lothian’s engineers, brought back recollections of journeys to school and work for generations of locals.
Whether it’s the thrum of the engines or the smell of the leather seats, it seems there’s something intrinsically comforting about the buses of yesteryear.
Engineering Director of Lothian Buses, Jim Armstrong, agrees, saying: “Young or old, buses have connected with a part of all of us.
“Every vehicle can tell a million stories about the lives, the passions, the careers and the many opportunities that Lothian’s bus passengers have experienced over the decades.”
The oldest of the vintage vehicles to have served the city over the last seven decades, a 1949 Daimler CVG6, may have proved one of the most popular on the day, but each of the vehicles involved marks a milestone in the development of the city’s public transport system, which is now recognised as one of the best in the UK.
From the days of the Corpie buses (City of Edinburgh Corporation) through to LRT (Lothian Regional Transport) and today’s Lothian Buses, keeping these pieces of Edinburgh’s history operating is a matter of pride for the engineers who work on them.
Armstrong adds: “Transport has always played a part in Edinburgh’s rich history and Lothian is very proud of its heritage. Our vintage fleet tells a story of how through time we as a transport operator have always been at the forefront of new technology and driving higher standards.
“Our customers’ expectations are increasing all the time and what would have been the height of luxury many years ago now fills us with nostalgia.”
Edinburgh bus historian Richard Walter adds that there is something magical about seeing the vintage fleet back on the streets of the Capital.
“Seeing the reaction of people travelling on them, especially that of youngsters, shows that while today’s modern fleet is efficient and comfortable, there is still something exciting and mysterious about buses from the past, many of which youngsters may only have ever seen on TV and in films.”
He continues: “Seeing them back on the streets of Edinburgh, alongside the trams and their modern counterparts, there is something quite magical about these examples of transport from another age.”
If you missed the chance to experience a journey in to the Capital’s past this year, never fear, another Vintage Bus Running Day is planned to coincide with Doors Open Day 2018.
THE HERITAGE FLEET
Fleet No 135 – Daimler CVG6. In service 1949-67
FOLLOWING the Second World War, Edinburgh Corporation ordered 72 of these buses, which were renowned for their smooth running. Bus 135 was transferred to the new Marine garage when it opened in 1962 and was used regularly on service 26.
Fleet No 480 – Leyland Titan PD2/20. in service 1954-73
AFTER doing away with trams, a large intake of new buses was needed to replace them. Bus 480 is one of 300 more or less identical Leylands which entered service from 1954-57. However, they didn’t find favour with one city councillor, who famously described them as “monstrous masses of shivering tin”.
Fleet No 665 – Leyland ‘Titan’ PD3/6. In service 1964-80
The very last Edinburgh bus to be operated with a conductor, 665 spent much of its life on service 26 but was later transferred to the last crew-operated route, service 1.
Fleet No 801 – Leyland Atlantean PDR1/1. In service 1965-83
801 was the city’s first rear-engined bus, entering service at Leith depot as a crew-operated bus used mainly on service 16. Adapted for one-person operation in 1970 it was transferred to Marine garage.
Fleet No 102 – Leyland National 2. Entered service 1982
102 was the first Leyland National of an initial
batch of four to be purchased by Lothian Region Transport.
Fleet No 667 – Leyland Olympian ONTL11/1R. In service 1982-99
667 was one of the city’s first buses with air suspension, along with power steering and electronic destination equipment. It operated on services 9 and 10 from Central garage.
Fleet No 777 – Leyland Olympian ONTL11/2R. In service 1985-2003
777 spent all its days at Marine garage; it often operated on service 26.
Fleet No 322 – Leyland Olympian ONCL10/2RZ. Entered service 1988
IN 1988, Lothian ordered for 36 Olympians. The first ten of these buses were converted to open toppers for the tours fleet. In due course 322 became a driver training bus.
Fleet No 285 – Volvo Olympian YN2RC16Z4. In service 1997-2009
285 was the last step-entrance bus for the firm. It operated from Longstone depot on service 23.
Fleet No 572 – Dennis Trident II. Entered service 2000
572 initially ran on service 44 and is preserved in the later, simplified version of the Harlequin livery.