The operation of buses, both motor buses and trackless trolleys', was first
considered by the Corporation in 1921. An extensive network of services reaching far
beyond the city boundary was proposed. In the event, the first venture into bus operation
was a more modest service between Monteith Row (near Glasgow Green)
and Maryhill, which commenced on 8th December, 1924, and was the basis of service number 1. The initial fleet comprised fourteen single-deck
buses, two each of seven different chassis types with bodywork by five
different coachbuilders. James Dalrymple resigned
at the end of 1926 in acrimonious circumstances arising to
an extent out of the General Strike earlier that year. As
was the custom throughout the Department's history,
the succession passed to he deputy, in this case Lachlan
MacKinnon, who took office in January, 1927.
He embarked on a programme of modernisation of the
Standard cars, whose lack of comfort for passengers and crew was becoming more evident as
other forms of transport evolved. He also added fifty-one new
double-bogie totally enclosed cars, the Kilmarnock Bogies, to
the fleet, all but one being built
by outside firms. Excellent car though they were, they soon exhibited a dislike of junction curves
and they were restricted to the heavily used Argyle Street
/ Dumbarton Road routes.
In November, 1929, the Department was renamed
Glasgow Corporation Transport Department, serious bus
operation having commenced the previous year with the purchase of
a batch of Leyland Titans. More followed
in the years to 1931, together with the first
A.E.C. Regents and twenty-five Vulcan Emperors, a rare type which proved less than
successful compared with the A.E.Cs. and Leylands.
By 1932, when a solitary three-axle A.E.C. Renown
was added, there were in excess of three hundred buses operating cross-city
services linking the new housing schemes springing up on the periphery of the old city.
1st May, 1932, saw the first
major tramway abandonment when Corporation buses began
operating in place of trams between between Kilbarchan, Johnstone and Paisley.
The Glasgow Corporation Act of 1930
gave the Corporation a monopoly of bus operation within the city
boundary and this remained in force to the end of the Corporation's reign,
and then for a further nine years into the P.T.E. period. However, it was not extended
to take account of the 1938 boundary revision,
so that other operators were able to serve
post-war housing in areas such as Drumchapel and Easterhouse.
Further additions made to the bus fleet in 1935 brought the first twenty
Albion double-deckers, as well as further Leyland Titans. The Albions were the first oil-engined vehicles in the fleet and all subsequent deliveries were so powered. Many older
vehicles had their petrol engines replaced with oil engines so that by the outbreak of
the Second World War there were no petrol vehicles in use.
MacKinnon retired at the end of 1935, the Manager's mantle passing
to John Wilson, who himself retired in 1937 being succeeded by
Robert P. Smith. All three served under John Young, the
first General Manager.
The Glasgow Corporation Provisional Order, 1933, sought to provide powers to operate
trolleybuses over any tramway route, and to build bus and trolleybus bodies, but,
following a public enquiry, the trolleybus operating powers were restricted somewhat and
authority to build bus and trolleybus bodies was denied. This latter exclusion meant
that to protect the workforce at Coplawhill a programme of modernisation of the tram
fleet was instituted. The imminence of the Empire Exhibition to be held in Bellahouston
Park in 1938 was the spur for the development and production of a new tramcar. The
prototypes appeared in Coronation year, 1937, and inevitably the type became known as the
Coronation cars. 152 of these magnificent vehicles were built between 1937 and 1941. But
for the war there would have been six hundred.
The bus fleet was not neglected: between 1937 and 1940, over three hundred and fifty
new buses on A.E.C. Regent, Albion Venturer, Daimler C0G6 and Leyland Titan chassis were
delivered, with bodywork by Cowieson, English Electric, Weymann and Pickering. Seven
single-deck Albion Valkyrie arrived in 1939, the first single-deckers since 1928, and were
followed by thirty A.E.C. Regals in 1940, though several of these were requisitioned for
government service without seeing use in Glasgow.
The only bus operator taken over by the Corporation was Stephen Young,
of Carmunnock, a small village to the south of the city. His service, between Carlton Place and
Carmunnock, became Glasgow C.T. number 31 in December, 1941, and continued, virtually
unaltered, including protective restrictions, until the mid-'fifties, when it was
integrated with other routes serving the new
housing scheme at Castlemilk. None of
Young's vehicles was taken into the operational fleet.
As the Second World War progressed, fuel became scarce and many operators turned to
producer gas as an alternative fuel. Whilst this could be used with relative ease in a
petrol engine, the Department had to carry out some pioneering and innovative work to
allow its use in an oil engine. One vehicle, No. 559, had a producer gas plant built on
to the rear platform for a time, but the more usual method of towing a trailer-mounted
plant was adopted on this and a number of other vehicles.
Notwithstanding the lack of powers to build bus bodies, eight double-deck bodies to
Metro-Cammell design were built on Albion chassis in Larkfield Bus Works in 1942. Two
'unfrozen' Leyland TD7s were obtained in the same year together with the first of the
inevitable utility Guys. Further Guys were to follow, together with Daimler CWs. In
1944, ten 1930 A.E.C. Regents were rebodied by
Alexander, a bodybuilder then new to the
Corporation. Five lightweight four-wheel
tramscars were built to a style influenced by
the Coronation design, one being a replacement for a car demolished by
a German bomb. Wartime also brought a further change of General Manager, but this was to be the las
for a long time. E.R.L. Fitzpayne, son of a former General Manager of Edinburgh
Corporation Transport, had served in Edinburgh and South Shields before becoming Assistant
Manager in Glasgow, He was in his early thirties when he became General Manager in 1943
and he remained in the post until retiral in 1969. He was a man of vision and radical
ideas, not all of which were acceptable to his political masters.
In 1946, Parliamentary approval to build bus and trolleybus bodies
was obtained in the face of some stiff opposition. Whilst no trolleybus
body was ever built, the motor bus powers were well used.
The prospect of trolleybus operation arose again immediately after the war and, in
January, 1946, the Corporation approved the purchase of the necessary vehicles and
equipment for the first services. These were to be from Riddrie and Royston Road to
Oatlands (Shawfield in trolleybus terminology) or Polmadie. To avoid conflict, actual 02
imagined, between tram and trolleybus running parallel, tram service 2 (Riddrie -Polmadie) was replaced by a temporary
motor bus service, numbered 102 in the trolleybus
series, in February, 1949. With the overhead
complete and some driver training accomplished, the first passenger-carrying trolleybus, No.TB2, took to the streets on
3rd April, 1949. It was some weeks later though, before route 102 was operated solely
by trolleybuses. Thereafter, the system developed gradually, a purpose-built depot in
Hampden opening in December, 1950, to replace shared quarters at Larkfield.
Whilst the new trolleybuses had replaced trams, it was considered that their eventual
role would be to serve new territory and that the tramway would be improved at the same
time. Thus the modernisation programme begun in 1937 was revitalised, but on a more
cautious scale. An experimental double-deck single-ended tram was built in 1947 and was
followed between I948 and 1952 by one hundred cars of more conventional layout,
the Mark II Coronations, or Cunarders, as they
were better known.
There were new motorbuses also, on A.E.C,
Albion and Daimler chassis, but Leyland was not favoured
at this time. Between 1948 and 1952, a
batch of 43 Daimler single-deck chassis was bodied by the Corporation
at Larkfield to a style which borrowed features from the Cunarder
trams being built concurrently at nearby Coplawhill, One
of the primary duties of these vehicles was to serve Hillington
Industrial Estate, which was beset on one side by a restrictive
low bridge under the main railway to Paisley. The
new arrivals were supplemented by a programme of rebodying pre-war
A.E.C., Albion and Leyland chassis and thirty of the wartime Daimlers.By
1957, all vehicles had post-war bodywork.
The 'fifties saw an expansion of the bus network to
serve new housing in Pollok, Nitshill, Drumchapel, Easterhouse
and Castlemilk. Although neither tram nor trolleybus
shared in these new routes, there were further and final
additions to the tram fleet between 1953 and 1955
in the unlikely shape of forty-six Green Goddess cars from Liverpool, together
with six new trams more or less to the original Coronation
design, on ex-Liverpool bogies. But there was contraction also
and the first signs of the impending demise of the tram.
Bus services operating entirely outside the city
were transferred to the Scottish Omnibuses Group in
1955, notably on 20th February, the Paisley area services, which
passed to Western S.M.T. Company Limited, and the Clydebank services, which
were thereafter operated by Central S.M.T. Company Limited.
The Airdrie and Coatbridge trams ceased in November, 1956, as
did the service to Milngavie, whilst the Paisley trams,
reprieved because of fuel rationing at the time of the Suez
crisis, followed on 11th May, 1957. The
death sentence on the tramway was finally pronounced in February, 1958,
when the Corporation resolved to replace the whole system
with buses as soon as practicable.
Pinkston Power Station was sold to the South of Scotland
Electricity Board on 30th October, 1958, an event which had repercussions
also for the as-yet incomplete trolleybus network. In
fact, the final tram to trolleybus conversion took place on 16th
November, 1958, when cross-suburb tram route12 was replaced
by trolleybus route 108, This was no ordinary conversion
as the trolleybuses were 54 feet 6 inches long single-deckers at
a time when the legal maximum was thirty feet. Special
dispensation had been received in 1956 to purchase the
vehicles for this route and the success of their operation
paved the way for the introduction in 1961 of a general
limit of thirty-six feet. Unfortunately, the vehicles themselves
suffered from having only a single narrow entrance/exit and an
exceedingly austere interior finish.
Subsequent tram route conversions were with motor buses, generally
Daimler CVG6s or Leyland PD2s, Leylands having returned to the fleet
In 1960, the first thirty feet long forward-entrance
vehicles on A.E.C. Regent and Leyland PD3 chassis appeared. Twenty-five
of the latter as well as seventy-five earlier PD2s were bodied
at Coplawhill Car Works using parts supplied by Alexander.These
were the last vehicles to receive Corporation bodies, Coplawhill
closed thereafter and part was converted into the Museum
of Transport. A solitary Leyland Atlantean had been obtained in
1958 for evaluation, and the first of the production vehicles
arrived in 1962, introducing a completely new body
by Alexander, which was to influence bus styling throughout the
country for the next twenty years. As the first
Atlanteans arrived, so the last trams departed, the
official final day being 4th September, 1962. A
quarter of a million Glaswegians lined the city streets in pouring
rain in a unique display of public sentiment, paying their
final tribute to the cars they loved.
With the trams out of the way, traffic management
became the name of the game. The main city streets
became one-way in November 1963, with consequent disruption
of old-established routes. Despite the departure of the trams, costs
continued to soar and reductions in staff costs were now being
sought. The first one-man bus, Leyland panther No.
LS31, made its debut on 4th May 1965.
The trolleybus system was also under threat. It had never realised
its potential. Had, for example, the routes to the
south penetrated the massive Castlemilk scheme, the
outcome might have been different. Two routes had already gone, in
1959 and 1962, but the first closure involving major
abandonment of overhead came in April I966, when the Royston
Road and Rutherglen routes were 'motorised'. On 27th
May 1967, the last trolleybus ran between Clarkston and Queens
Cross. There were few mourners and certainly nothing like the
public expression of loss of September, 1962.
Further Panthers had been purchased for one-man operation, but
with union agreement to double-deck one-man operation and the removal
of the offending low bridge at Hillington, the need for single-deckers
almost vanished. LA362 introduced double-deck
one-man operation early in 1968 and thereafter there was a steady
conversion of routes to one-man operation -
or, by now, one-person operated, as lady drivers
were being recruited from the ranks of redundant conductresses.
So it was, Atlanteans all the way. Unfortunately, the
PDR1 Atlantean was not proving too successful in Glasgow.
Indeed, it could be said that all that prevented
the Atlantean becoming a music hall joke was that
there were no music halls left! Some progress was made in
the 'seventies to improve the situation, and
the AN68 model received from 1972 was a much more satisfactory
One unusual feature of the Department's operations which ended'
in 1969 was the responsibility for snow clearance on bus
routes. A number of withdrawn buses equipped with snow-ploughs
were utilised on these occasional duties.
E.R.L, Fitzpayne retired in 1969, to be succeeded by William
Murray, who had spent all his working life in the Department, most
of it under Fitzpayne.
In 1970, there were experiments with passenger-operated
ticket machines mounted in the buses, some of which
now had separate entrance and exit doors. Neither machines
nor doors found favour with passengers or crews. In an attempt to
improve the lot of citizens in outlying areas, an experimental
limited-stop peak hour service to Easterhouse was launched. But
uncertainty over the future of the Department had dulled
the incentive for innovation.
The Corporation, in association with the Scottish Development
Department, the Clyde Valley Planning Authorities, British
Railways and the Scottish Bus Group, commissioned in I964
the Greater Glasgow Transportation Study to determine the future transport
needs of the area. In the meantime, in
I966, concern over the cost of maintaining municipal transport
pushed the Corporation to the brink of a deal with the Scottish
Bus Group, which would have granted the Group a lease to
operate the city undertaking. However, it
was decided to await the outcome of the Greater Glasgow
Transportation Study.By the time that the final report of the G.G.T.S. was
published in I968, passenger transport authorities were being
established in England, and it became clear that governments of
either political hue considered that a P.T.A. was the answer
for the Glasgow conurbation.
In December, 1971, it was announced that a passenger transport
authority was to be established during 1972, with a view
to the resulting passenger transport executive taking over operation
of the Corporation Transport Department in June 1973. What seemed
at the outset a fairly optimistic timetable was, in
fact, achieved, the Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport
Executive taking control on 1st June 1973.
The transfer of authority was noticed by even fewer people than
had witnessed the departure of the trolleybuses. Municipal transport
operation in Glasgow had ceased after seventy-nine years of
service to the public.