Horse Banner  
Banner

 

CREW OPERATION AT PARKHEAD GARAGE IN THE LAST MONTHS OF GLASGOW CORPORATION TRANSPORT

By John Walker

This is a resume of what it was like in the final days at Parkhead Garage before the Corporation was taken over by the Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive in June 1973. It is also intended as my last effort at writing about Glasgow Corporation Transport. I have almost exhausted my memory of the subject in the previous articles on this website, and this is therefore the finale. As usual, I may be guilty of straying from the subject at times, but this is only done where I feel that a certain matter requires further explanation.

In this final piece I’ll try to correct some errors that I made in the article “Who’d be a Bus Conductor?” I’ll also apologise in advance as some of the information referred to here may have been already covered elsewhere.

Why the fascination for Glasgow Corporation buses?

I’ve touched on this before, but feel that this paragraph may better describe why otherwise sane people can develop an interest in buses. Neither of my late parents held a driving licence throughout their entire lives, and to a young male child who did not have access to car travel, a bus driver was perceived as a man of great importance. It has to be remembered that in less modern times the majority of the working adult population in the Glasgow area were non-drivers, and we had to rely on bus drivers to get us from A to B and back again. Driving was considered to be a valued “skill”, and in those days of the 50s and 60s, a bus driver was almost afforded the same esteem as young boys in the present day afford airline pilots (I said almost!) It was well enough known that the job was not well paid, consistent with its “public servant” status, but that didn’t seem to matter to those of us fascinated by the man who drove us to places where we could not otherwise go. Therefore, from about the age of 5, I decided that my career was to be a bus driver, although it never turned out that way. As it happened, I would never be old enough to drive for the Corporation in any case, due to the demise of the Transport Department some15 months before my 21st birthday.

Parkhead Garage

Unfortunately, there is little reference material on this, or indeed any of the former bus garages used by Glasgow Corporation, so this section will of necessity have to brief. This was originally a tram depot, although had also operated buses since 1924. The garage was situated on the south side of Tollcross Road, a few hundred yards east of Parkhead Cross. It was fairly typical of such buildings elsewhere in the UK and the interior was huge. However, it still couldn’t house all of the buses under cover and some had to be parked outside. The garage had an official capacity of 180 buses, but by 1973 I would doubt whether there were more than about 120 buses there. This is an educated guess as I do not have access to any official bus allocation data. There was a bus wash near the entrance and I’m sure that the buses were usually driven through it by garage “shunters”, with drivers bringing buses in lining them up in a queue. I don’t think individual buses were washed every day, but I could be wrong on that score.

Great care had to be taken by staff, as the garage floor always appeared to be greasy from diesel spillage, and drivers had to be careful not to apply the brakes too hard in the garage for fear of skidding into other parked buses. I never actually saw that happen, but did see a few near misses. Before a bus was taken out of the garage it was the conductor’s responsibility to ensure that the vehicle interior was clean and that there were no protruding screws or rivets on any of the interior body panels, likely to cause injury to passengers. The only occasion where I encountered a problem was that one bus was missing a seat cushion for some reason, but this was remedied by purloining a replacement from the vehicle adjacent! When buses were returned to the garage the conductor had to ensure that there were no passengers or property left on the bus. I failed in my duties twice in that respect, as once I failed to find a drunk male passenger slumped across an upstairs seat, and he suffered the indignity of waking up in the bus wash. He also alighted from the bus whilst it was being driven through! I don’t know whether it had been my driver or a fitter who had found him, but it was the driver who ended up escorting him from the premises.

Had any official complaint been made, then the chances were that I’d have received a day or two suspension from duty. My other neglect of duty in that respect was that I left my uniform cap in the ticket box locker of a rear platform bus, and I never saw the hat again. The hat was no great loss, and I suspect the reason it disappeared was that the Tramway badge number 2236 was a potential collector’s item. A couple of years later my PSV Conductors badge MM115725 was stolen from a Royal Navy issue suitcase on board the aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, so I never had much luck in that respect.

The garage had been responsible for supplying buses to almost all of the services terminating on the east side of the city until the opening of Gartcraig Garage in 1961, in the shadow of the infamous HMP Barlinnie. When Gartcraig opened the majority of services which terminated in the eastern suburbs north of the River Clyde were transferred there, with the odd exception. Similarly, when Bridgeton Garage opened in 1965, yet more services were transferred there, and that must have taken considerable pressure off Parkhead Garage.

Supervision of Greenstaff

“Greenstaff” was the term used to describe bus crews who operated the vehicles on the road, on account of our green uniforms, and the large turnover of staff unfortunately meant that we required a fair bit of supervision. The most common misdemeanours were deliberate early or late running by drivers, and fiddling the takings by conductors, which was actually also a criminal offence. In addition, one or two staff were inclined to imbibe on duty, a very dangerous practice indeed, as I am referring to drivers as well as conductors. I never saw any greenstaff actually drunk on duty, but saw a few borderline cases. I remember seeing one driver on a late Saturday night service 62 taking slugs from a quarter bottle of whisky at Hope Street terminus, and washing it down with a can of Tennent’s lager he had concealed in his greatcoat. I was suspicious as to why he had never spoken to me at any time during the shift, and I suppose the answer was then obvious. It was actually my duty to report the matter, but I never did as I don’t reckon it would have benefited my “career”, or any pretence I had to good looks when the driver found out that I had “shopped” him. Unfortunately the heavy drinking culture of the area also extended to greenstaff. I enjoy a drink as well as the next man and am not trying to set myself aside as being better than anybody else. I am just highlighting the grim truth. You will seldom find such reference to reality elsewhere in transport articles intended for enthusiasts, which primarily relate to vehicle types, and give scarce mention of the staff who operated them. I would be willing to wager that the odd Inspector may have also had the odd “wee hauf”” on duty, but am not in a position to state that for definite.

It was also a disciplinary offence, punishable by instant dismissal, for greenstaff to enter any licensed premises in uniform, on or off duty. I must confess to having breached that rule on several occasions, usually by calling in at my local village pub following completion of a spreadover shift.

The task of supervising greenstaff was the prerogative of the Inspectors, who were known to us as “hats”. Generally speaking, by 1973, they were the only staff who actually wore hats on duty. There were basically five types of Inspector. There were those who worked in the garages, those who manned timekeeping booths, those who performed ticket checks on the road, those who performed uniform mobile patrols, and those who performed plain clothes duties. The latter two categories of Inspector were known to greenstaff as the “Gestapo”, as they would often strike when least expected and catch out the unwary. They were principally there to counteract complaints of bad driving, fiddling conductors, and other sharp practices by the crews. Whether we appreciated the “Gestapo” or not, their very existence was largely due to excessive wrongdoings by our greenstaff colleagues.

Deliberate early and late running

I have broached this subject before and drivers would typically engage in this practice in attempts to lighten their workload by tucking in behind the bus in front, or to avoid such hazards as bingo queues. Of the two sins, early running was the most severe, and the usual tolerance appeared to be two minutes before the scheduled arrival at a timing point. The issue of whether the driver was booked often depended on any conversation he had with the Inspector concerned. If the driver failed the “attitude test” then he would be booked, or if he confessed his misdemeanour in an apologetic manner he may have got away with a warning. Almost every service had recognised timing points manned by Inspectors, who were not necessarily in a position to stop any bus driving past early. The usual outcome of detected early running would be that the Inspector would be waiting for the bus on the way back, and the driver would be spoken to then. By 1973 there was also facility for Inspectors to contact the mobile “Gestapo” unit to stop any offending bus. I cannot be certain, but believe that trade union agreement meant that a driver could not be booked without being physically spoken to on the road, i.e. an Inspector couldn’t just send a report in about early running. Inspectors identified buses by the “route” number displayed on the reverse of their time boards and/or the bus fleet numbers. In Glasgow the service number was the number displayed alongside the destination, and the “route” number referred to the position the bus was to run on the road on the service concerned.

A (relatively) simple example of how this worked would be where a garage operated 10 buses on a service in conjunction with another garage, which also operated 10 buses on the service. The buses would typically be identified as follows:- if we imagine that the service number was 74, Garage “A” would operate buses 74/1, 74/2, and consecutive numbers up to 74/10, whilst Garage “B” might operate 74/21 up to 74/31. The second number was the “route” number. The buses from Garage A would run in sequence during the peak hours, and every second bus would be from Garage B. The buses would therefore run as 74/1, 74/21, 74/2, 74/22, and so on. Timekeepers would know which buses were due to pass their timing point and any missing bus would be investigated. Any bus found to be exceptionally late would be turned short in an effort to get it back into its correct place in the sequence. Outside of the peaks certain buses would be removed from the sequence, and these would also be automatically removed from the timekeepers’ sheets. I believe that a different sheet was utilised for each separate hour of the day, but I have never actually seen such a document, so again I cannot be absolutely certain. Suffice to say that where several high frequency services passed a timing point, then it must have been quite a task to keep everything running as it should. Don’t try this at home, as Glasgow Corporation never operated a service 74, I was only using it as a hypothesis. These days all this can be automatically achieved by electronic sensors carried on the buses, and linked to a central computer. This is the method currently used in London, although I am unaware whether such a system currently operates in Glasgow.

Deliberate late running must have been a difficult matter for Timekeeping Inspectors to address, as Glasgow operating schedules were very tight with minimal layover times compared to other undertakings. These days, in London, a crew arriving at Putney Heath on a Service 14 Routemaster bus, will find at least two vehicles in front at the terminus, and will often have more than 20 minutes recovery time before they have to depart for Tottenham Court Road Station. That was never the case in Glasgow, where there were only a few minutes grace before you were back on the road. It would therefore often be the case that a driver found himself running late and unable to make up time. If this was compounded by the bus, or buses, at the back having caught up and refusing to overtake, then the driver of the late bus would often deliberately run even later in the hope of missing out part of a journey. However, Inspectors were usually wise to this ruse. It has been stated elsewhere that a bus had to be running 15 minutes late before it would be turned short. I do not believe that there was any “set” time interval which resulted in short turns being authorised, although the fact that I was never a driver, and also that I was hardly in the job 5 minutes, means that I cannot make any positive observation with regard to that fact.

Fiddling the takings

From the first day that Public Service Vehicles ran on the roads, their conductors devised various means by which they diddled their employers out of a percentage of the takings. The practice appeared to be rife throughout the UK, although it appeared to be a particular problem in Glasgow, both on the Corporation buses, and also on the company buses of the Scottish Bus Group which operated in the area. I have read various bus enthusiast publications over the years, where extremely complex methods of fiddling have been explained, such as doctoring of ticket machines, conductors with two machines, re-issuing of previously issued tickets, waybill forgeries, and all that stuff. The method used in Glasgow and surrounds was simple in the extreme, and also very blatant.

Basically, a culture had developed whereby certain unscrupulous conductors simply halved the fare with the passenger and no ticket was issued. Not surprisingly this practice was referred to as “haufin” in Glasgow, and I well remember a red faced conductor paying in his last ever takings, having been taken off his bus on the road by plain clothes Inspectors. Halving the fare was obviously a dangerous practice, as a conductor could be reported by any passenger witnessing any such action, including the passenger participating in the scam. Also, during any ticket check by an Inspector, there would be passengers with no tickets, unless the driver had the presence of mind to forewarn the conductor, usually by banging the window in the rear of his cab with his elbow, that he had seen an Inspector ahead about to board. The conductor would then have to scramble like mad and issue tickets to those passengers with whom he had halved the fare, some of whom would become more flustered than the conductor when the tickets were actually checked. Any Inspector worth his salt would have known the score immediately he boarded the bus, although proving it would be a different matter. The drivers all knew that fiddling was being carried out, although most preferred not to get involved. However, I was approached on the odd occasion by various drivers asking if I had “made” enough to buy a packet of cigarettes, or a fish supper for us both, or even whether I had the price of a couple of cans of beer! Yes, it really was as bad as that.

The problem was that a hard core of the travelling public capitalised on the situation, and realised that they could save on bus fares. The result was that a number of passengers would often try and instigate the fiddle themselves. It was often the case that you would be handed a 10 pence piece for two 9 pence fares, accompanied by the phrase “Just keep the tickets, pal.” You had to be careful how you tackled this one, especially if you were dealing with a couple of “rough diamonds”. To be fair (or maybe it should be “fare”), this didn’t happen on every journey, but it did occur with all too frequent regularity. The tactic and advice offered to young conductors by more experienced colleagues, was to demand payment of the full fare. If this still wasn’t offered, so long as you had issued tickets to the value tendered by the passenger (and kept them in your pocket as proof you had done so), then you may be booked for issuing a wrong value ticket, but should not be liable to dismissal if any such transaction had been observed by the plain clothes “Gestapo”. Whilst this did not exactly comply with the rulebook, it seemed a perfectly reasonable way of avoiding trouble, and was the method that I chose to adopt. One other temptation that was difficult to resist was when a passenger handed you the exact fare just before they alighted. This would be the case when the bus was exceptionally busy, and I would have to confess that I often considered putting the cash in my pocket. However, I was always aware of the vigilance of the general bus travelling public and I resisted the temptation. In fact I would often make a point of showing other passengers Sunday, January 12, 2014 1:13 PM on the rear platform.

The fact was, regardless of any fraudulent scheme devised by conductors, any whose pay-ins were regularly under the average for their given duties were relentlessly pursued by the plain clothes “Gestapo” until they were (usually) caught and dismissed. It was a sad fact that some conductors took the job for the sole purpose of making extra money, and I have even seen a conductor try and fiddle an entire top deck with no tickets. These conductors would usually target younger passengers, and would leave the older generation alone. They would most likely be caught very soon after they commenced employment, but most simply didn’t care.

Other common breaches of the regulations, and situations where we could land ourselves in trouble

Conductors had the responsibility of setting the destination and service number blinds and could be booked if these were incorrect. We were only allowed to set screens for the return journey after the last fare stage had been passed prior to the terminus we were approaching. It was often necessary to check with the driver at times as to what the correct destination should be. Most of us made a note of the scheduled journeys to be worked on a piece of paper, so that we knew what was to be set on the blinds. As conductors we never knew what times we were due at the timing points for any journey, as these were only printed on the driver’s time board. We could also be booked for “missed fares”, or where we had issued a ticket of the incorrect value to a passenger. There was also the issue of being of scruffy appearance, or carrying items of luggage in contravention of the regulations. One other bane of being a conductor were waybill errors. Great care had to be taken so that the correct ticket numbers were entered at each terminus. We also had to take care not to allow OAPs to travel at concessionary rates during the peak hours. If we had more than 5 standing passengers we committed an offence under the PSV regulations and could also be reported by the police. We were also supposed to prevent persons under the influence of alcohol to board a bus, but that was an impossible task. If a passenger attempted to board the bus with two dogs, one of the dogs was meant to travel on the top deck, and one was meant to travel downstairs. What would you do in those circumstances?

We were also supposed to refuse to surrender passengers into police custody, unless with the required permission? Failing to display your PSV badge was also an offence. You could be reported by passengers for incivility, even by those who shouted and swore at you, then reported you later. The passenger’s word was nearly always accepted as gospel. Found property on the bus had also to be taken care of in the approved manner, and it wasn’t unusual to see red faced male conductors walking towards the garage office with handbags and other female accoutrements.

Other responsibilities of a conductor were to obtain the names and addresses of any witnesses in event of an accident on board the bus, or with another vehicle. The rulebook reminded us that it was not enough to look for witnesses among passengers, as persons on the street may also be valuable witnesses. The people who compiled the rulebook had obviously never attempted to approach the Glasgow public and persuade them that it was in everybody’s best interest that they should give their names and addresses to bus conductors!

One other vital aspect of the job was to constantly maintain a note of how many vacant seats were available upstairs. If you were at a busy stop and attempted to advise the queue that the bus was full, there was always someone with a voice like a foghorn on the upper deck who would bawl out “Thurzacupplamerrsatesuprasterrpal!” . If you called out “First two, first three”, or any definite number there was always somebody who shouted the odds about queue jumping or pleaded they had to travel with somebody else behind them. I learned to adopt the better method of holding up fingers of my hand and saying nothing, always remembering to turn my hand with the palm outwards in case people became offended.

Another quaint relic from the days of chivalry was that you would sometimes get an older couple, both smartly dressed, he with lighted pipe, and she immaculate with fur coat, even if it was July. They would part company on the rear platform, he going upstairs to help turn the ceiling brown with nicotine, and she going to her seat downstairs as befitted a lady. There was no point in asking the good lady for the fare as she would simply say something like, “The gentleman with the camel hair coat upstairs will be paying my fare.” I made that mistake on one or two occasions, before I started to get the picture.

Male conductors were expressly forbidden to take hold of female passengers to assist them in boarding or alighting in case our actions were wrongly interpreted, yet female staff were apparently allowed to do what they liked. The fact that we often had to physically prevent determined males and females alike from boarding already overcrowded vehicles also seemed to be outside the life experience of the rulebook authors. Our colleagues in Liverpool and Manchester had a chain to place across the rear platform to prevent further attempts at boarding. If we had them in Glasgow we would have probably used to them to hang some of the passengers!

So you can see that it wasn’t a very easy job. Fortunately common sense prevailed, and I only received one booking for failing to give due attention to the upper deck of a bus packed to the gunwales with passengers.

Drivers were booked for running early, and occasionally for running late if there appeared to be no due cause. They could also be booked for failing to display the time board in the approved position in the offside window of their cabs. Failing to report a defect was also a serious matter, as was making unauthorised deviations from the route. To take on water for an overheating engine otherwise than at an approved location was also a breach of the regulations. Overall, it seemed that it was easier to be booked as a conductor than as a driver, yet drivers were paid more than we were!

Crew Services operated by Parkhead Garage in 1973:-

1/1A Carmyle to Gairbraid Avenue or Maryhill or Killermont

This was a service jointly operated with Maryhill Garage and ran cross-city from the village of Carmyle, just outside the city boundary in Lanarkshire, on the south east of the city, to the village of Killermont, again just outside the city in Dunbartonshire, in the north west. Service1 buses turned short in Gairbraid Avenue just south of Maryhill, or in Maryhill, where the terminus was in the Garage itself. By 1973 there was only one scheduled working to Gairbraid Avenue, although there had been a frequent service in previous years. Alternate buses from Carmyle in the peak periods terminated at Maryhill, although I believe that those buses were from Maryhill Garage, and buses from Parkhead continued on to Killermont as Service 1A. I am not entirely sure of that fact, but I now have no way of verifying it. There were also timetabled short workings to George Square and Hope Street, but I can never remember working this service travelling to any destination other than Carmyle or Killermont. Certain Sunday journeys also terminated short at Sandyhills, but again that was outwith my experience. Indeed, I don’t reckon I worked on the service any more than a handful of times. It seemed to be worked mainly by the old hands as, although it was busy, it wasn’t as hectic as most of the other crew routes.

Running times were 59 minutes from Carmyle to Killermont, and 57 minutes on the return trip from Killermont to Carmyle. The only reason I can work out for the difference in running times was that turning at Killermont could take a couple of minutes if traffic conditions were heavy. The trip from Carmyle to and from Gairbraid Avenue was 51 minutes in each direction, and 54 minutes to and from Maryhill. These running times, as all other running times referred to below, were for the peak periods and were usually shortened at other times.

Service frequency was 10 minutes in the peaks, extending to 15 minutes in the off-peak, and 20 minutes on Sundays. Reversing was necessary at both Carmyle and Killermont which meant the conductor had to alight from the vehicle and use the GCT issue Acme Thunderer whistle at both ends to give the driver reversing signals. In an Atlantean we got away with looking out the rear lower saloon window and calling out to the driver.

The buses used tended to be Leyland PD2s and Leyland Atlanteans, with the occasional Daimler CVG6 fielded. I cannot remember any Leyland PD3s on this service, although they may well have appeared from time to time.

Crew changeover points were at Fleming Street, Dennistoun, for Parkhead crews, and Maryhill Garage for Maryhill crews. It was necessary for a staff shuttle bus to run between Parkhead Garage and Fleming Street to cater for crew changeovers on this service, and also on service 22. Sometimes this was catered for by buses on service 1 or 22 running into, or out of service.

If there were any peak hour extras on this service then I’m afraid I cannot remember them.

Service 22 Easterhouse to Castlemilk

This service was operated exclusively by Parkhead Garage and ran mostly within the city boundary, but weaved in and out of the Lanarkshire county boundary in Springboig at the northern end and at Rutherglen, in its southern section. It linked the two large housing schemes by the same names. The closest this service got to the city centre was Bellgrove Street, and it could best be described as “steady”. Service 22 was rarely heavily loaded outwith the peak periods and it was usually a nice service to work on. The downside was the reputation afforded both Easterhouse and Castlemilk as being hotbeds of street gang warfare, but fortunately this rarely manifested itself on the buses. There was however one notorious trouble spot on the 22. In Scotland at that time it was necessary for Sunday drinkers to do so in a hotel as the pubs were closed. This meant that if we passed the large Dalriada Hotel in Lightburn at closing time then we could be in for a rough ride. A fair percentage of persons emptying out from the hotel would point blank refuse to pay their fares and you had to tread very carefully, particularly if there was a large group of male passengers travelling together. I once had an Inspector check the bus and remark that “one or two” passengers travelling upstairs did not have tickets. However, he was quite happy to sign my waybill and alight at the first available opportunity, as I heard him being called several names never intended for him by his parents whilst he was upstairs. This was on a journey to Castlemilk following the lunchtime session at the hotel, and I reckon the Inspector hadn’t bargained for a crowd of rowdy drunks on the upper deck, otherwise he would have checked the lower saloon only. He would have known that the reason they had no tickets was not of my doing, otherwise the book would have come out.

I seemed to spend the majority of my duties on the 22 and it became my favourite service, perhaps as my first ever duty was also on the 22.

Journey time was 57 minutes in each direction, and there was only one timetabled short working to Bridgeton Cross on a Sunday morning. Service intervals ranged from 10 minutes in the peak hours, to 12 minutes on a Saturday, and 15 minutes on Sundays. As a piece of trivia not directly connected to this article, when the service was converted to OMO later on that year the GGPTE timetable shows that the running time was extended to 61 minutes in each direction.

There were no service extras as far as I can recall, and neither can I ever remember having the bus turned short in service due to late running. The wide service interval usually meant that you just had to keep going and try to get back on time.

Service 38/38A Millerston or Riddrie to Merrylee or Giffnock or Rouken Glen or Clarkston (38A)

This service was mainly operated by Gartcraig and Newlands garages, and according to available information in the timetables, Parkhead only had a daily three bus allocation with an additional weekday morning peak extra running back to the garage from Merrylee. Therefore it was only on rare occasions that Parkhead crews worked on the service, and this could cause problems with route familiarity. Fortunately, I knew most of the route as I had relatives in south west Glasgow, but the turning points at Merrylee and Giffnock are still vague in my memory.

The service was cross city and was possibly one of the most complex services operated by the Corporation. It used to be even more complicated when the buses worked in a loop with service 45 buses around Rouken Glen, when the buses would arrive as a 38 and continue as a 45 and vice versa. However, by 1973 the services operated independently of each other, with all southbound 45s terminating at Carnwadric rather than Rouken Glen, and I shall now try and describe how the 38/38A operated.

If we start at Millerston, a village just outside the city boundary in Lanarkshire, on the north east of the city, most of the northbound 38s and 38As terminated there. We then continue southwards for 5 minutes past Hogganfield Loch back into the city boundary to Riddrie, where a percentage of northbound buses also turned. However, unlike most other services, there was no regular pattern to buses turning at Riddrie, and it appears I shall never know which method was used to determine the buses scheduled to terminate at Riddrie. We then continue for another 6 minutes towards the city centre to Alexandra Park, which was the crew change over point for Parkhead crews, and possibly also Gartcraig crews, although I cannot be certain whether Gartcraig crews used that point. They certainly used it as a changeover point for other services, although Alexandra Park was rather a long way from Gartcraig Garage. Travelling to and from Alexandra park from Parkhead to take up a bus or to return to the garage was a bit of a logistical nightmare. It probably took about 20 minutes starting on the Fleming Street shuttle, followed by a short trip on a number 65 service bus. To get back to the garage the reverse process obviously had to be undertaken. That said, I do remember being conveyed on a spare bus from Parkhead Garage to take up a service 38 bus at Alexandra Park, but that was only because I had been allocated the duty as a spare (the conductor booked to do the duty had failed to turn up). I have no idea why Parkhead operated on the 38 at all after the bulk of its eastern allocation was passed to Gartcraig in1961, as it was often the case that Parkhead crews turned up late to take up a bus, having failed to make suitable connections along the way. It was probable that Gartcraig was a bit overstretched, as we also had to help them out in the morning peak on service 41.

Anyway, another 6 minutes takes us to Castle Street, just before we encounter city centre traffic, and a further 9 minutes takes us right into the city centre at Argyle Street, which was another short turning point for the 38, as was nearby Hope Street. Hope Street was used by northbound buses and Argyle Street by those travelling southbound, and I “hope” you are still with me. 6 minutes now running almost due south takes us to Eglinton Toll, which was a timing point manned by Inspectors, and where it was necessary to stop if you were running very late and needed permission to turn short. However, we’ll assume that all is well and in another 6 minutes we arrive at Shawlands Cross, which was the crew relief point for Newlands crews, and was also manned by timekeeping Inspectors. From there on things start to get rather complicated. If we are to turn at Merrylee we have only another 6 minutes to go (it appears that the scheduler on this service had 6 as a lucky number). If we are turning at Giffnock we have 13 minutes, 14 minutes to Rouken Glen, and 16 if we are a 38A going to Clarkston in Renfrewshire.

The running times were as stated above and the typical service interval southbound from Riddrie on a weekday was as follows:-

Buses left Riddrie at 4,24, and 44 minutes past the hour for Merrylee, at 9,19,29,39,49 and 59 past each hour for Rouken Glen, and at 14,34,and 54 minutes past each hour for Clarkston (38A). This gave a service interval alternating between 4 or 5 minutes between Riddrie and Shawlands Cross.

In the opposite direction any unlucky soul having missed the weekday 4.41pm departure from Rouken Glen to Millerston would have to wait until 6.07 pm for the next one, yet buses left Rouken Glen for Riddrie every 7 or 8 minutes during that time. In a lifetime of studying bus schedules I would have to say that Glasgow Corporation managed to totally defeat all logic when it came to the 38. Somebody somewhere within 46 Bath Street obviously had it all worked out, but their methodology was totally beyond me.

As stated above, Parkhead did a morning service extra on the 38, although I suspect there were many more worked by Gartcraig and Newlands. Almost any intermediate destination referred to above was possible on the 38, and Parkhead crews were probably the worst for failing to keep time on this very complex service.

Whatever I thought of the 38 schedules it nevertheless was a pleasant change of scenery to work on the service, and Parkhead would tend to field whatever type of bus that was available. I seem to remember working on all types operated by Parkhead when working on the 38. It also gave me the opportunity to work alongside my favourite Glasgow Corporation bus, the Newlands Daimler CVG6s, and these magnificent machines have been praised elsewhere on this website.

Service 61 Tollcross to Maryhill

Accredited by crews as being the busiest service operated by Parkhead Garage, we shared its operation with Maryhill Garage. A full duty on service 61, especially on a Saturday late shift, was enough to weaken the knees of even the hardest of Glasgow bus crews. This was the former tram service 29, basically unaltered after bus replacement, and still in all its glory. The service ran totally within the city boundary, and was unique in that respect with regard to crew services operated by Parkhead Garage at the time. The service was another cross city affair and ran between Tollcross in the eastern suburbs and the rather infamous district of Maryhill in the north west. The whole route was the prerogative of short stage travellers and buses seldom ran light for long throughout the entire route. The cheapest adult fare in 1973 was 4 pence, and the 61 seemed to generate more “fourpenny wonders” than any other service operated by Parkhead. This service also ran past “The Barras” market and a close eye had to be kept there for punters attempting to board with such items as large rolls of linoleum (best attempted to say only when sober), or “exotic” pets such as snakes and tarantulas, or nice wee piranha fish in plastic bags. We had to decline to carry any of the above “passengers”, provided of course we knew they were being carried! However, the usual purchase at “Ra Barras” tended to be dinner sets, cutlery sets, curtains, or bedding, and these never attracted much adverse attention from bus crews.

Despite the very busy nature of the 61 there was seldom any trouble on the service and I can honestly say that it was a hard duty, but relatively problem free.

Running times were 47 minutes in each direction, but this was extended to 48 minutes when the Maryhill terminus was altered to a new housing scheme known as “Summerston”, some few hundred yards past Maryhill Garage. The name Summerston also appeared on the destination blinds, and was crudely applied by the sign writers, although I believe that the destination display subsequently reverted to “Maryhill” after passengers became familiar with the location of the revised terminus.

Service intervals were typically 5 minutes in the weekday peaks, with a 4 minute service on Saturday afternoons. Scheduled short workings included Argyle Street, Hope Street, and Glasgow Cross, which effectively split the service Sunday, January 12, 2014 Buses running into the city from Tollcross turned at Hope Street, and from Maryhill they turned at Argyle Street. At certain busy times Maryhill crews operated the northern section of the service and Parkhead crews operated the eastern section, although this was only resorted to in dire circumstances such as when Celtic and Partick Thistle football clubs were both playing home matches on the same day.

Parkhead buses appearing on this service were either Leyland PD2s or Daimler CVG6 buses, which were identical to the buses operated on the service by Maryhill Garage. I cannot ever remember seeing Leyland PD3s or Atlanteans on this service as they simply were too slow to keep up with the schedules. However, please read the footnote in the Atlantean section below.

Short working extras were operated as described above, but the vast majority of journeys operated the full route. When running late it was also possible to be turned at Queens Cross, or Glasgow Cross.

Crew changeover was either outside Parkhead or Maryhill garages.

Service 62 Baillieston or Shettleston to Hope Street

Another service operated exclusively by Parkhead Garage, and second only to the 61 in terms of being exceptionally busy. Baillieston was yet another village in the county of Lanarkshire, and it held the dubious title of being the largest village in Scotland. So much so that it justified an 8 minute service interval in the peaks, and when combined with journeys turning at Shettleston, a couple of miles nearer the city centre, a 4 minute service was operated between Shettleston and Hope Street during the peak hours. The route was the replacement of tram service 15, and appeared to attract as many passengers as the former tram service. A full duty on the 62 was almost as arduous as the 61, although the fact that Parkhead operated the entire service tended to lighten the load somewhat, as there was no inter-garage rivalry. This service also operated past “Ra Barras”, and I once forgot to monitor the stop to discover the top half of a Welsh Dresser sideboard in the gangway of the lower deck. After pleading with its owner, he eventually condescended to take the thing off the bus at the eastern end of the Gallowgate, much to my relief. A family friend had apparently managed to get the bottom half into a small car, but had no room for the top part. The passenger was hoping to convey the item to Barrachnie, sometimes affectionately referred to by locals as “Barra China”, yet another destination in Lanarkshire between Shettleston and Baillieston. How he got the item from Gallowgate to Barrachnie was his problem and I never followed his progress. I was just glad that the item was no longer on my bus.

Journey times were 28 minutes in each direction between Shettleston and Hope Street, and 36 minutes between Baillieston and Hope Street. The terminus known as “ Hope Street” was actually in Wellington Street, although this seldom gave cause for any concern to the travelling public who typically regarded the terminus as Central Bridge, which was actually part of Argyle Street. Central Bridge was a very large railway bridge that ran over the top of Argyle Street, on the southern approach to Glasgow Central Station, and was known as “The hielandman’s umbrella.” Apparently, people resident in the city of Highland descent used to congregate under the bridge and reminisce about their highland origins. The bridge was perhaps utilised as protection against the heat of the midday Glasgow sun, or most likely as shelter from the heavy rain that prevailed in Glasgow! I must confess that the nickname for the bridge was imparted to me some years later by an Edinburgh man. I had been hitherto unaware of its nickname, but his facts seem to have been correct. In any case it was a rare occurrence indeed to carry passengers past Central Bridge on journeys to Hope Street, and by the same token the first passengers usually boarded the bus under the bridge on outward journeys.

Crew changeover was at Parkhead Cross and necessitated a walk of a few hundred yards from Parkhead Garage.

The service was operated by Leyland PD2s, PD3s, and a fair number of Atlanteans were also used. The odd Daimler probably made up the numbers on occasion, but that would be the exception rather than the rule. Service 62 required the largest allocation of buses from Parkhead, consistent with its high frequency and the fact that it was exclusively operated by the garage.

Service extras were operated between Glasgow Cross and Baillieston or Shettleston in the afternoon peak.

Night Service 1 George Square to Sandyhills

This was one of two Night Services operated by Parkhead and ran from the city centre at 1230, 0130, 0230, and 0330 from George Square to Sandyhills, where departures back into the city were at 0100, 0200, 0300 and 0400. One bus covered the route which was crew operated by a single LA in 1973. In my original “Who’d be a Bus Conductor?” article I omitted to make reference to the service, on which I never had the pleasure of having performed duty.

Night Service 23 George Square to Baillieston

This was the other night service operated by Parkhead with identical departure times as above, and I worked on the service for one week only. Again it was a crew operated LA with all journeys incurring the night service flat fare of 15 pence regardless of the distance travelled. Nothing of note occurred when I worked on this service. I believe that there may have been duplicates on journeys from the city departing at 1230, but cannot recall this now with any certainty.

Other services worked by crews at Parkhead during the material time

Hospital Service 11A – Castle Street to Robroyston Hospital

Operated on Sundays only between the termini stated, I seem to recall that two round trips were operated with longish layovers at the Hospital. On other days of the week hospital services were operated as route diversions by buses from Knightswood Garage. The “wee” Leyland PD2 was the usual bus on this service.

Hospital Service 16A – Castle Street to Stobhill Hospital

The same as above, but buses on other days were variously operated as route diversions by Knightswood and Partick garages. Again the “wee” PD2 was the usual bus. I have vague memories of having performed duty on one or other of these hospital services, but I don’t think I worked on both of them

Service 41 Easterhouse to Buchanan Street

This service was otherwise operated exclusively by Gartcraig Garage. A single journey was operated leaving Easterhouse at 0816, and arrived at Buchanan Street at 0847. The bus then changed to a service 64 and ran to Bridgeton Garage, where it again changed to blank screen and ran back into Parkhead Garage. The usual “steed” for this journey was a “big” Leyland PD3, or a “wee” Leyland PD2. This was my only experience of working on the 41. There may well have been other extra duties on this service, but I was never rostered to work on the 41, other than described above.

Service 55 Castle Street to Barmulloch

Crew buses only operated on short journeys between the above termini, and the usual city terminus was Hope Street on this service. A “wee” Leyland PD2 was dispatched via Duke Street, John Knox Street, and High Street to Castle Street as a service extra, and performed three round trips between Castle Street and Barmulloch, before running back in service via High Street and Duke Street to Parkhead Garage. As far as I can recollect there were also another two service extras operated by OMO Atlanteans from Parkhead. The timetables showed three service extras operated by Parkhead in any case. It was necessary to run back to Parkhead Garage in service from Barmulloch on this duty, and the destination display brought many comments of disbelief from intending passengers, who thought we had wrongly set the screens. We ran back to Castle Street, then High Street, where we turned left south of the Royal Infirmary into John Knox Street to Duke Street. We then ran along Duke Street to Dennistoun, then back to the garage.

OMO services operated by Parkhead in 1973

Service 13 Greenfield to Croftfoot

This service was exclusively operated by Parkhead, and I was obliged to work on it on two occasions with a crew driver due to no OMO driver being available. The buses used were standard OMO equipped Atlanteans with a revolving board indicating that passengers were to pay the conductor.

Service 55 Hope Street to Barmulloch

Principally operated by Possilpark Garage, Parkhead had an OMO allocation on this service, but to this day I am unsure whether they covered it in the rush hours only, or whether there was an all day allocation. This service is also referred to in the Crew section above.

Service 58 Dalmarnock to Scotstoun West, Yoker, or Dalmuir West

This service was shared with Knightswood Garage, and despite the fact that it was advertised as being exclusively OMO operated in 1973, a crew operated PD2 or PD3 bus left Dalmarnock each weekday at 0830 for Hope Street and ran in service back into the garage. I also had to work on this service due to shortage of OMO drivers but only on its eastern part between Dalmarnock and Hope Street.

Service 60 Shettleston to Maryhill

Crews were occasionally allocated to this service when the perennial problem of no suitable OMO driver raised its head. I can remember working on it on at least two occasions The service was shared with Maryhill Garage and crew operated buses, even when working on LAs, had no trouble keeping to the timeboards, as they were intended for OMO operation.

Reporting for duty

It should be noted that crews were not allocated to the same duty each alternate week as in bus undertakings elsewhere, and would work on all services as required by their duty number. It was therefore the case that a crew may work the first and second parts of their duty on different services, although it was also possible that their duty involved a full shift on one service. Meal breaks were of irregular duration, and were seldom much greater than half an hour. It was forbidden to eat a meal on the bus unless in “special circumstances”. Exactly what those circumstances were I never did find out.

On arriving for duty you approached the desk in the main garage office and gave your name, badge number, and duty number to the clerk, who was a senior conductor. He may have been no longer fit for the road, or was possibly on the road to promotion, but I wasn’t there long enough to find out. As far as I can remember the duties simply started at number 1 and the higher the duty number the later the start. When I later worked for Eastern Scottish the early duties had odd numbers and the lates had even numbers, but I am certain that was not the case with Glasgow Corporation. In theory you worked one week of earlies and another of lates. This would lead to those greenstaff not working on your pattern being referred to as being “on the other side of the shift”. There were also “spreadover” shifts which could occur on either the late or early weeks. These shifts meant that you typically covered a morning peak service and then stayed on the road to cover early shift meal breaks. After about 3 or 4 hours your duty finished and there was a gap of another three or four hours until the second part of your shift started in the late afternoon. You would then work until mid evening in the rush hour and beyond, although this time you would be on the road covering the late shift meal breaks. Your duty would typically finish about 7 or 8 pm.

As I lived some distance from the garage it was often touch and go whether it was worthwhile my going home in the middle of a spreadover and I remember once going into the rest and recreation room at the garage. There appeared to be a serious snooker tournament taking place and the greenstaff present made it very clear that my presence was not welcome. After that escapade I gave up attempting to socialise with my “colleagues” and tended to get a bus into the city centre where I would kill time walking around the shops. I hated spreadovers for that reason if no other, although it was nice when you received the extra pay that a spreadover shift gave you. There was an hourly “retainer” rate to cover the time you had to kill between duties. Finally, there was also a nightshift which I can only remember doing once, on night service 23. The night service tended to use the old tram service numbers even into the last days of the Corporation buses. Again, the pay was at an enhanced rate for nightshift working.

Speaking of pay, it was impossible to receive the same amount of pay each week, as no two duties were of the same duration, and overtime working on rest days was expected of all greenstaff. The clerk would put your name down for overtime, or “buck” as it was known, on your days off and you had to ask for any days off you wished to take. The term “buck” was short for “buckshee”, which was a local colloquialism for something “extra” or “left over”, or “for the taking”. As I wasn’t there very long I don’t think I had many days off at all, and seem to remember working a fair but of “buck”. The few rest days I had tended to be on Sundays or perhaps the odd day in midweek. Drivers were obliged to take one day off every fortnight to comply with regulations in force at that time. The pay was roughly equivalent to what a tradesman would earn for working a 40 hour week with no shift working and a little overtime, so for a single man I wasn’t doing too badly. However, if a tradesman worked almost every weekend such as we did, then his wage would be better than ours. I seem to recall that the pay varied between about £23.00 and £32.00 per week, and I knew tradesmen who were not receiving as much as that. There was also a good timekeeping bonus, which had nothing to do with the buses running on time but was paid provided you weren’t late for work on more than one occasion in any working week.

For conductors and OMO drivers this bonus could be offset against any shorts in your pay-ins and all such shorts were deducted from your wages. The most typical error of the time would be to give change of 50p when only a 10p piece was tendered, although most of us kept 50p pieces (illegally) in an inside jacket pocket to prevent such a mistake being made. Where a 50p piece was found in our cash bag then it would be reasonable to assume that we had short changed somebody. We were always advised by more experienced colleagues that our cash pay-in should match the ticket issue numbers exactly so that there were no discrepancies, but errors frequently occurred, especially when you were in a hurry to cash up to catch the late staff bus home. You also had to remember to retain your cash “float” of £1.00, for use on the next duty day. Interestingly, any overpayments were retained by the Corporation and not credited to the conductor to compensate for future shorts. Dishonesty of any kind was not tolerated and resulted in instant dismissal, as referred to elsewhere.

As a conductor reporting for duty you would be issued with an Ultimate ticket machine in your own ticket machine box. In Glasgow you were issued with the same ticket machine box each day and it was your responsibility to ensure that you had enough ticket rolls to last you for your next shift. I believe it was also intended that you should receive the same machine each day, but this was not always the case if the machine was defective, or was due to be serviced. You had to fill out a request for ticket rolls with your pay-in slip at the end of your duty, and you would get the new rolls in your box the next day. The ticket office staff made sure that the machine ribbon was inked so that the fare stages were legible. The Ultimate ticket machine has been described elsewhere and basically consisted of a machine which held five different rolls of pre printed tickets with the serial numbers and fare value already printed on the ticket. All that was necessary was for the conductor to print the fare stage number on the ticket. The machines were designed for quick ticket issue and were much faster than the equivalent Setright machines used by the Scottish Bus Group, and Edinburgh Corporation. Their only real disadvantage was that a ticket could be accidentally “issued” if a passenger bumped into the front of the machine. Some conductors placed an arm across the top of the barrels in an effort to prevent this, but I was unaware of any such precautionary measure until I had left the job.

In my article “Who’d be a bus Conductor?” I stated that if a machine jammed then emergency tickets had to be issued. This was nonsense, and with the Ultimate you just issued the tickets “over the top” of the machine and cancelled them with a punch that was incorporated into your cash bag belt at chest level. I was getting confused with Eastern Scottish practice. Also, to transfer passengers onto another bus, you gave the conductor of that bus a copy of your ticket starting numbers for the journey concerned. Transfer slips were not given to passengers in Glasgow.

Having received your machine and ticket box it was then necessary to double check the duty board to see what service and route number you were to take out, or if the bus was already on the road, to take over. It was then necessary to venture into the canteen to find your driver. If the duty started with the bus in the garage this was fairly easy as he would be carrying the orange and black running board with the route number of the bus on the back. If the bus you were taking up was already on the road you had to call out the bus service and route number and await a response. It could be soul destroying to watch a driver’s face fall when he realised he was on with a rookie, but most of them were used to working with whatever the wind blew in and just took it in their stride. With typical black Glasgow humour they would usually give you a few words of encouragement like “This duty is really busy son and we’re gonnae get a tankin’. Ah’ll dae mah best tae keep oan time.”

If taking a bus out of the garage you would then walk out into the main garage area and find your bus, which you hoped would be to the driver’s liking. Occasionally a driver would attempt to decline the bus allocated to the duty, and if he was successful then you would be late getting on the road by the time a replacement bus had been found. If he was unsuccessful you would still be late out and you knew that the ride was going to be rough as he would probably try every combination of mechanical abuse he knew in an effort to make the bus unserviceable. Thankfully, most passengers would be unaware of the sabotage carried out by bus drivers on certain buses which were known not to be up to scratch. However, the fitters weren’t daft and I’m sure many a report went in against a driver without his knowledge when a bus was found to have been tampered with.

On most journeys starting out of the garage you went out to the outer terminus and then took the bus into the city, if the service terminated in the city. On cross-city services we normally took the bus to the eastern terminus and worked cross-city. The exception to this was the 22 which didn’t go through the city centre at all, and it was sometimes necessary to take a bus out to Castlemilk and start from there.

If your duty started with a bus already “on the road” you followed the driver to your take up point.

It has to be taken into account that I was exclusively on the “spare” sheet throughout my 5 or 6 month sojourn at Parkhead Garage and therefore I was more or less confined to the undesirable busy duties that the old hands would try hard to avoid.

In addition to the scheduled numbered duties there were also “spare” duties whereby the crews concerned reported at strategic times throughout the day. These crews were there in case a driver or conductor failed to report for duty, and normal practice was to allocate a spare as soon as it was known that a member of greenstaff personnel had failed to appear for duty.

On occasions where there was a surplus of spare conductors, these would usually be sent out on the road as “jumpers”, whereby you would be sent out to board service 61 or 62 buses heading for the city and assist the conductors on board. You would typically board a bus until it was clear that the conductor did not require further assistance. You would then alight from his bus and await the bus behind. On the 61 you would become involved with assisting Maryhill and Parkhead conductors, and on the 62 it would be only Parkhead conductors who benefited from your services. The normal sphere of operation for jumpers was between Parkhead Cross and the Glasgow Cross, where you would then change direction and work on buses heading back towards Parkhead Cross. It was not a very popular duty on account of the fact that you had to carry your waybill and spare ticket rolls in your pockets. Also, when two conductors were seen on the same bus, it would automatically be assumed by passengers that the younger of the two (usually me) was still undergoing training.

Overall, it wasn’t an easy job and I found out in later years that bus drivers had an abnormally high rate of sudden death from heart attacks. Traffic conditions then were not as congested as they are today, although in the city centre things frequently degenerated into gridlock even in those days.

The types of buses operated in 1973

Glasgow Corporation drivers trained at the time by the department qualified for “automatic only” PSV licences. From 1956 onwards, Glasgow Corporation Transport specified semi-automatic transmission on almost all of its vehicles. The exception was that some Daimler CVG6 buses were equipped with pre-select transmission. Neither type of bus required drivers to have a “full” PSV licence, and this meant that drivers wishing to transfer to Scottish Bus Group companies in the area were obliged to pass another PSV test so that they could drive buses with conventional clutches. It was well enough known that Glasgow Corporation buses were driven hard at the time, and the semi-automatic transmission greatly assisted drivers to cope with busy city stop-start traffic. The situation with pre-select buses was rather different. Glasgow Corporation policy was to allocate specific types to specific garages, but by 1973 some of these pre-selector Daimler CVG6 buses had found their way into the otherwise semi-automatic equipped Parkhead Garage. Even drivers who were used to these buses were wary of them, and they were not at all well received by Parkhead drivers.

All vehicles operated by Parkhead Garage in 1973 were double deckers.

Of men and machines (the pre-selector Daimler CVG6s)

These were conventional double deck buses with front engines and open rear platforms. They were bodied by Walter Alexander and seated 61 passengers with 5 standing allowed in the lower saloon. To those of a non-technical mind, a pre-selector gearbox did away with the conventional clutch and manual gearbox and was operated in the following manner:-

The accelerator pedal was in the conventional position and was operated by the right foot.

The brake pedal was similarly placed to the left of the accelerator pedal and was also operated by the right foot.

The gear change was operated by the driver selecting the required gear on a lever on the steering column, and then depressing the gear change pedal with his left foot. This gear change pedal was placed in the same position as a conventional clutch, but was not utilised in the same manner. A driver wishing to move off from rest would usually first depress the footbrake pedal with his right foot as a safety measure. He would then typically select 2 nd gear on the steering column selector, before depressing the gear change pedal with his left foot. The next step was to remove his left foot from the gear change pedal, release the footbrake, then the handbrake, and simply accelerate away with his right foot on the accelerator. So long as a forward gear was selected (and engaged) then the bus would not roll back. All future changes were made by selecting the required gear on the steering column and engaging the gear with the left foot gear change pedal. Great care had to be taken to ensure that the correct gear was selected on the column change, otherwise a violent reaction could occur whereby the driver could sustain injury by the gear change pedal “kicking” back. On some occasions the gear change pedal would “kick” upwards past its usual maximum travel, and it would then be necessary for the driver to stop the bus and attempt to return the gear change pedal to its normal position by standing on it and using his back on the cab roof as a sort of lever. This didn’t always work, and occasionally a bus so afflicted was rendered disabled where it stood. It was usual practice to place a seat cushion against the rear of a disabled bus to indicate its condition to other road users. Hazard warning lights were still a thing of the future in those days.

Glasgow drivers named the pre-selector Daimler buses “kickers” as a result of their violent tendencies, as many of them suffered leg injuries when the gear change pedal decided to misbehave. In their favour, they could be stopped in any gear without stalling and all the driver had to do was select neutral on the steering column selector, and then depress the gear change pedal to the corresponding neutral position to prevent the bus trying to continue in forward motion.

The technique of driving these buses therefore required some application by the driver who effectively had to try and forecast what his next change would be in advance. You could select any gear on the steering column but the gear would not engage until the gear change pedal was depressed. On a long straight clear road this was relatively simple, but if a driver moved away in second with 3 rd selected as the next gear, if the bus required to stop for any reason the driver had to remember to unselect 3 rd or the bus would be in the wrong gear for moving off. The system saved drivers having to worry about clutch control, but was the source of much frustration to drivers unused to that type of transmission. We only had a handful of these buses at Parkhead in 1973 and they were detested by the drivers. Also, if you were conducting one of these buses you could almost guarantee that late running would ensue. There was also the unwanted sensation of being thrown about the bus when the driver fluffed selection of the correct gear or released the gear change pedal at a bus stop with a gear still engaged. The latter course of action would result in the driver stamping hard on the brake pedal to stop the bus immediately, as there would usually be passengers in the course of boarding or alighting.

A further source of annoyance to drivers was that these buses had hinged doors to the driving cabs.

Pre-selector transmission was used very successfully in London, on its RT and RF classes, and also elsewhere, particularly in Birmingham, where that type of transmission was almost universal for a time. However, it would be interesting to know whether any London drivers used to the fully automatic Routemaster also encountered similar problems when required to drive an RT.

Later deliveries of Daimler CVG6 buses were equipped with two-pedal semi-automatic “Daimatic” gearboxes and sliding doors to the drivers’ cabs, and these were a different bus altogether. However, the entire batch went to Newlands Garage and Parkhead never operated any.

The “wee” Leyland PD2s

These front-engined, double deck, rear platform buses were the mainstay of crew operated services at Parkhead during my brief stay there and were by far the preferred vehicle of Parkhead crews. A fair number had sliding doors to the driving cabs and these were the ultimate Parkhead crew driver’s bus. The bodywork was either by Alexander or by GCT on Alexander frames, and like the Daimlers referred to above, had seats for 61 passengers with 5 standing passengers allowed in the lower deck. These buses were semi-automatic with two pedal control, and the driver selected the required gear on a floor mounted column on his left hand side. Again, 2 nd gear was almost always the preferred choice for moving off, unless the bus was on an upward incline or was full to capacity. These “wee” buses were also more manoeuvrable in the city centre and the open rear entrance saved time at bus stops. By accident or design this style of bus was ideally suited to busy British city services as demonstrated by the continued success of the London Routemaster. However, few undertakings, including Glasgow, could afford the labour intensive servicing schedules required to keep buses like the Routemaster, and the RT before it, running for 50 years. The wee Leylands had a shelf life of about 20 years before they were only fit for scrap. Although they always seemed to look rather battered towards the end of their lives, they were rugged vehicles well up to the hard Glasgow driving style of the time.

The subject of bell signals has been covered elsewhere, but I shall go into it again, as I feel the matter deserves explanation in any article involving crew operated buses in Glasgow. In some undertakings, most noticeably London Transport and its successors, on rear platform buses the conductor has always been responsible for the bus running to the timetable. The conductor will make use of the bell signals to hold the bus at certain timing points to ensure that the schedule is maintained, i.e. the driver is not allowed to move the bus until signalled by the conductor. Early running is the conductor’s responsibility and the conductor will be booked if the bus leaves a timing point more than two minutes early. This practice is still in force in London today with the few remaining Routemaster operated services. This was also the case with Liverpool Corporation (also a major interest of mine) in crew operation days, and prevailed with many other operators. In Glasgow the situation was different, and it was the driver who was responsible for the bus running to time.

Glasgow, in common with several other municipal undertakings, decided to fit interior rear view mirrors in the driving cabs of its rear platform buses, and these afforded the driver a view of the rear platform through the lower saloon. The rear view mirror was fitted in the cab above the windscreen and lined up with a windowed aperture cut in the front lower saloon bulkhead behind the driver’s head. Off the top of my head the only other operator I can think of which had a similar arrangement was Blackburn Corporation, although there were definitely several others. This appears to have been intended as an additional platform safety feature, but it also allowed the driver to take total control of the movement of the bus independent of the conductor. Apart from the very occasional driver who insisted upon receiving them, Conductors were never expected to give bell signals in Glasgow except under certain circumstances described below. In Glasgow the drivers would look in their interior mirror on the approach to a bus stop and if there was nobody on the rear platform then the bus never stopped unless there were intending passengers, who were obliged to give the approved stopping signal to the driver. If intending passengers never gave the appropriate “arm out” stop signal to the driver of an approaching bus, then they were left where they stood. Buses were supposed to stop at all Fare Stages, which were the equivalent of compulsory stops in Glasgow, but this practice had died along with the dinosaurs by 1973.

The Glasgow public were aware of their local operating conditions and made sure that they were suitably positioned to alight well before their stop was reached. The system failed when passengers travelling upstairs, perhaps used to conventional bell ringing Scottish Bus Group vehicles, failed to “show” themselves on the rear platform as potential alighting passengers to the driver in time. Their reward was to be involuntarily carried to the next stop, especially if they took it upon themselves to give a bell signal when it was clear the bus wasn’t going to stop. Glasgow conductors therefore generally left the bells alone and trusted the driver to control all movement of the bus. An exception to this unwritten “rule” was when the driver’s view of the rear platform was obscured by standing passengers, when conventional one bell signals were given by the conductor to stop, but the driver would expect the conductor to give him a “wave off” signal from the rear platform in his nearside mirror, rather than the usual two bell signal. The only other acceptable bell signals were the three bell “bus full to capacity” signal, or four bells given whilst the bus was in motion to indicate a platform emergency. On one notable occasion, a problem occurred with the nearside mirror of a service 1A bus I was conducting, and the driver asked me for bell signals to move off. To my horror I discovered that all of the bells on the bus were inoperable and I had to stand on the rear platform giving whistle signals. When I subsequently entered the lower deck to collect fares, I inadvertently whistled “Fares please” on more than one occasion, having forgotten to remove the Acme Thunderer from my mouth. My driver, who by his various insignia was a veteran of at least 10 years, fortunately realised that my involuntary whistling in the lower deck was not intended as a signal to him. He further explained that the lower deck lighting was unusually dim, and he had been wary of placing sole trust in his interior mirror that the rear platform was clear. The bus was eventually run into the garage with the assistance of a fitter who brought us a “kicker” Daimler in exchange, with more than a hint of embarrassment.

As a young child I was once a victim of the “no bell” policy when my grandmother alighted from the rear platform of a service 48 at a bus stop in Peat Road. I was still on the platform holding her hand, but the driver obviously couldn’t see me in his mirror because of my short stature and moved away. In panic I jumped off the bus into my grandmother’s arms and we both fell onto the roadway behind the bus. Fortunately the conductor was on the platform and gave a four bell signal to stop the driver, or it could have been worse. We both walked away with bruises with our pride hurting more than our injuries, but there was no claim for injuries as my grandfather was employed by the Corporation on the Underground at the time.

I would have to say that, aside from the occasional incident as highlighted above, the policy of letting the driver move the bus according to his own observations tended to work well in Glasgow, and years later as a conductor I was glad to be absolved of the responsibility of controlling movement of the bus.

Strange as it may seem, the Glasgow Corporation rulebook actually permitted this practice as it stated that drivers were not allowed to move off without a bell signal from the conductor unless they could see that the platform was clear. That little loophole gave drivers the right to ignore signals from conductors and led to what I believe was a unique practice in the UK.

The “big” Leyland PD3s

These buses were part of a batch of 140 vehicles and were 30 feet long with front engines and a “front” entrance just behind the front nearside wheel. The entrance had a folding 4 piece door which was operated by the driver in his cab, although there were emergency door controls in the lower saloon and also outside the vehicle. They were 72 seaters and again 5 standing passengers were allowed. Bodywork was again either by Alexander or by GCT on Alexander frames. They had the same type of semi-automatic transmission as the “wee” Leylands, with sliding cab doors, but they were not very popular with crews. The automatic entrance doors caused delays at bus stops and the extra length of these buses made them less manoeuvrable in the city centre. They were not as ruggedly constructed as the “wee” Leylands and the interiors used to rattle and squeak. One serious problem was that the front transmission access hatch cover in the lower saloon was prone to work loose, and this was a potential accident hazard for passengers and conductors alike. There were not that many of these buses at Parkhead, as most of them appear to have been sent to Gartcraig Garage when it opened in 1961, and others to Bridgeton in 1965. They were mainly used on the 38 and the 62, and I can never remember them being used on any other service operated by Parkhead, other than the late night and early morning staff buses to Airdrie.

The Corporation also operated 89 AEC Regent V buses with an identical body style, save for the front bonnet and radiator covers, but none of these were allocated to Parkhead. When travelling on those vehicles they seemed to be better put together than the Leylands, although they were also bodied by Walter Alexander to what appeared to be an identical specification. It should be reiterated said that some of the Leyland PD3s were actually bodied by the Corporation on Alexander frames, so whether the deficiencies were as a result of poor workmanship by Alexander may be open to question. All of the AEC Regents were bodied by Alexander.

With these buses bell signals were not really necessary but were used on occasion when the conductor became aware that a passenger was late in rising from his or her seat to alight. In many ways they were safer for passengers, but this style of bus did not find favour in Glasgow for long. A few years later, when I lived in Brighton, I was surprised to see similar buses being used as OMO vehicles. The front entrances were modified to allow the driver to collect fares, but I reckon that such an arrangement would have been useless in Glasgow, as passengers would simply have crushed onto the bus and sat down without paying their fare. I saw this happen on more than a few occasions in Brighton, and the driver was obliged to exit his cab and remonstrate with any fare dodgers he became aware of. The fact was that at busy stops the driver had no chance of collecting all the fares. However, Brighton was decidedly different from Glasgow, and I often watched in disbelief as passengers formed orderly queues to board this type of vehicle.

The Leyland Atlantean

Glasgow showed an early interest in these vehicles, and began to take them in numbers from the early 60s onwards, with a “ Glasgow” style of bodywork developed by Walter Alexander, the Falkirk coachbuilder. During my time at Parkhead they were principally used on One Man Operated services but they also appeared on normal crew services from time to time. Love them or hate them (most of us crew types fell into the latter category), this was the bus that was to turn the whole bus industry around. Here was a bus that allowed operators to consider abolishing conductors altogether and, with its larger passenger carrying capacity (they typically had seats for 78), also gave the schedulers scope to reduce the number of buses on each route. It was basically all about arithmetic and operating costs, and there was little doubt that Joe Average wasn’t using his bus service as much as he used to. He seldom went out to the pictures any more as he watched his TV, and there was an increase in working men owning cars, or sharing them to travel to and from work.

These vehicles were known as LAs in Glasgow, and they were present in every garage by 1973. On the negative side they were big cumbersome vehicles which required considerable strength to steer. The transmission on the early models was jerky and unreliable, and the rear engines were prone to go on fire as the driver couldn’t hear any potential defect before it happened. Their sheer size made them slow in city traffic and if you were the driver of a bus behind you couldn’t see what was happening at the stop in front of you until the LA had moved away. Some crew drivers simply overtook them at bus stops and were later reported for missing intending passengers at the stop. Even when they were crew operated the drivers had trouble running to time in the city centre as the platform doors slowed down boarding and alighting times, and the front overhang caused manoeuvrability problems. If you had the misfortune to be stuck behind a One Man Operated LA then you could be waiting for a couple of minutes whilst a passenger boarding the LA found the correct change for the driver, or asked the driver directions before boarding the bus. This phenomenon still exists today, as I have watched the driver of a London crew operated Routemaster in 2005 being held up by a One Person Operated bus (as they are correctly referred to these days) with passengers engaged in precisely the same scenarios as described above.

One Person Operation means that no conductor has to be paid, but the running times on each service are longer to allow the driver to deal with ticket issuing and passenger enquiries. The larger passenger carrying capacity of rear engined double deckers means that the number of buses on the road is reduced, and this is all supposed to add up to a more efficient service to the public. The fact is that most city travellers want to get from A to B as quickly as possible, and if they miss a bus they don’t want to wait too long for the next one. The LA, and its more modern equivalents, ensure that the bus operator saves on cost and the passenger loses out on journey time and service frequency. The result is that a significant and ever growing number of passengers find an alternative means of travel, and the One Person Operated bus simply becomes yet another inefficient traffic hazard in a busy city environment.

It is true that in continental Europe the One Person Operated Bus has been an accepted form of transport for many years, but it appears to have been wrongly assumed by the Brussels Brigade that “one size fits all” with regard to bus operation in Britain. Most of the residents of Continental Europe have never had the opportunity to see how efficiently open platform crew operated buses can shift the crowds, as they have never been operated there to any great degree. Therefore these same gurus of Brussels have simply decreed that the rear platform London Routemasters will soon be illegal as they do not allow wheelchair access. The result is that the Routemaster is to be removed from London by the end of this year (2005), after faithfully serving the streets for 50 years. To put this in perspective, Glasgow Corporation only operated buses for 49 years.

From a safety point of view the LA was a disaster in that the construction of the original buses offered no protection to the driver. The driving position was much lower than the older conventional buses, and any frontal collision would result in the steering wheel being forced back into the driver’s chest with potentially fatal results. In later models the front end was reinforced and this gave the driver some additional protection, but it was to be some years before this modification was carried out. Also, in the case of a passenger becoming knocked off balance on entering or leaving a moving bus, the front nearside wheel was situated in a position so as to cause further serious injury, being immediately behind the front entrance. Tall passengers also frequently struck the nearside mirror with their heads, much to their annoyance, and that of the driver, who would be obliged to re-position the mirror before proceeding further. When driving at night, reflections from the lower saloon could make the nearside mirror ineffective, although this was tackled by carrying out modifications to certain lights in the lower deck. Some later vehicles were delivered specifically for one man operation and also featured a centre exit door. This facility was not a success in Glasgow, and indeed in several other areas, where the tendency was to convert the buses to single door configuration.

The plus side of these vehicles was that the electric or air operated platform doors tended to make for a cosier environment for passengers in the lower saloon. Also, the situation for conductors was somewhat safer, as any trouble on the bus was picked up by the driver quicker than on a rear platform bus. It is as well to mention that the trade unions of the time welcomed the buses in that respect, even to the point of insisting that the last bus on any service in Glasgow should be operated by an LA. This was to afford the conductor greater protection from attack by passengers. A young bus conductor had died as a result of injuries he received whilst conducting a bus on the north west side of the city in 1969. The use of an LA on the “last bus” was facilitated by garage staff allocating an LA to the duty concerned, although I can never remember conducting an LA on service 22, even if I was on the last bus.

.Incidentally, these buses were also semi-automatic and had electrically operated gear change to the left of the driver. The early buses had a tendency to refuse to engage 1 st gear on a downward change on a hill climb with a heavy load, and the driver often had to stop the bus and engage 1 st before moving off. Fortunately, Glasgow is not a particularly hilly city, and this seldom caused too many problems there.

Readers who have read my “Who’d be a Bus Conductor?” article will possibly have remembered my reference to the fact that gear selection depended on satisfactory air pressure. This appears to have been an error on my part, as the gear change was electronic on all of the early Glasgow LAs, and it must have been for some other reason that my driver had to rev the engine to ensure satisfactory operation of the bus. It may have been associated with brake pressure, but as a non driver at that time I cannot now recall the reason why drivers had to rev these machines regularly at bus stops. Any inside info on the subject would be greatly appreciated. What I can say is that LAs were frequently revved up whilst stationary in busy traffic for reasons that I am now at a loss to identify.

In summary then the LA was a bus subject of rather mixed feelings amongst crews, although it was the only option for OMO drivers who had no choice in the matter. Various protective screens were fitted to afford the OMO drivers protection from attack, with their enhanced wages being the only other incentive to make these buses popular with OMO greenstaff. The truth was that front entrance large capacity buses were in a relatively early stage of their development at the time, and they have now been accepted by drivers and the travelling public alike. Perhaps it was just that so long as there were rear platform buses on the go that the LAs took so much stick. It wasn’t the bus that was the problem, it was the abolition of crew operation that didn’t go down to well. In retrospect, Glasgow had made a firm decision to replace all of its crew buses with Atlanteans, so the final outcome was inevitable.

The Final days of the Corporation Transport Department

By late May, 1973, it became common knowledge that the only crew operated services soon to be running at Parkhead were to be the 61 and 62, and the prospect of a full duty on either service became a very real and frightening prospect. These were very heavy duties, and the thought of also working rest days on those services was grim. The conversion of the entire bus system to One Man Operation was really getting underway, and I had to make a decision on my future with the Corporation. When I also found out that the Corporation was very soon to be no more, that finally took the wind out of my sails. I was still 15 months away from being old enough to drive a bus, otherwise I may have stuck it longer, but I still had an option to join the Royal Navy in October that year. I talked things over with my father and he said I was stupid to consider staying on the buses, as there was no guarantee that I would pass my PSV test.

I definitely did not fancy spending my few remaining months waiting to joint the Navy as “First Mate” on nothing but the 61 and 62, and I therefore made enquiry with Eastern Scottish. I made a successful application to Eastern Scottish and handed in my resignation to 46 Bath Street the following month, literally just before the takeover. I was accepted by the former Baxter’s undertaking in Airdrie, which had been taken over by Eastern Scottish, but was still run as a separate entity. The company operated very busy local services in Airdrie and Coatbridge, and it wasn’t long before I wished I had stayed with the Corporation. I couldn’t get up to speed with the Setright ticket machine, and the issuing of weekly tickets during a Monday morning rush hour almost drove me to distraction. This resulted in conductors having to carry an extremely large amount of cash on their person, and was a daunting prospect. The Corporation had operated a very simple 20 journey ticket at a standard price which was simply given to the passenger and punched. With the Setright you had to dial the value of each weekly ticket into the machine, and I was struggling with that aspect of the job. I also had to get used to bell signals which took me a few weeks, although I reckon I became rather adept at that. However, all things considered I took the opportunity to get out of the bus industry and joined the Navy in the October. I had hoped to maybe drive a bus some day, but I suffer from high blood pressure now in my dotage, and couldn’t pass the PCV medical. Perhaps this was an indication that bus driving would not have been a wise decision for me, as the chances are that I would have been looking for another job when I had reached the age of about 45.

Glasgow Corporation Transport therefore finally ceased to be in June 1973, and to this day I regret not having stayed on those few extra days until the end.

Other similar (and better) accounts of being employed on the buses (and trams)

I had sincerely hoped that some career busmen, or women, would have committed their reminiscences of the old Glasgow Corporation, in the same manner as Bill Tollan did with the trams, in his “Wearing of the Green” book. Bill’s book is the most informative on Glasgow Corporation Transport that I have ever read, and is available for sale at the Glasgow Transport Museum. I reckon it’s worth every penny. I feel sad that it appears to have been left to the likes of me, who was hardly in the door long enough, to “have a go” at remembering what it was like to work on the old Glasgow Corporation Buses, and it also saddens my heart that very little has been published on the theme. Stuart Little appears to have been the most knowledgeable author on the Corporation Buses, and his various professional works on the subject have to be commended. These books are principally aimed at the pure bus or transport enthusiast, and principally contain technical information, rather than anecdotes of actually working on the buses. However, Stuart Little’s books remain the only detailed publications ever produced. They are now out of print, but were excellently presented, and they deserve a mention.

If I may digress a little, a very readable book on the experiences of a conductor, and later driver, on the former Liverpool Corporation Passenger Transport Department, has been published by DTS Publishing, under the simple title of “BUSMAN”. This is probably the most interesting book on the topic of bus work that I have read. Rather disappointingly, the author goes by the name “Bill Peters”, which has proved to be a nom de plume. I found this out during correspondence with another former Liverpool driver who actually knew the author. Bob Hogg, the ex-driver concerned, has also published a very informative account of his experiences in Liverpool on his own web site, and I can thoroughly recommend it as a similar source of experience of bus operation in a city with a fleet almost identical in size to Glasgow. I also feel that Bob is better at putting his experiences on paper than I am. The link to his site is at http://web.onetel.net.uk/~bobhogg/busframeset.htm

Corrections to my “Who’d be a Bus Conductor?” story

I have covered most of these in the above text, and I would reckon that the only fact that now needs clarifying is my reference to the male passenger whom I stated tried to smash the driver’s cab rear window with the “platform” fire extinguisher. It occurred to me some months after the article was published that Glasgow rear entrance buses never carried fire extinguishers on the rear platform, and the extinguisher was carried in the driver’s cab. Then the sequence of events came back to me and it appears that what actually happened was the male concerned was carrying a plastic bag full of beer cans. It was those that he had banged against the cab window. My driver, who obviously knew that the passenger was armed with some kind of “weapon”, appeared in the lower saloon with the cab fire extinguisher in his hand, as a counteractive measure to the bag full of beer cans. The driver obviously proved that a fire extinguisher was quicker on the draw than a bag of beer cans, and the passenger suffered a head injury as a result.

Names of some greenstaff that I can remember

Drivers:- Wullie Bell, Mohammed Din (Mo Din), Wullie Blair, John Scroggie, “Shug the gloves” (he always wore the old fashioned tramway gloves when driving), and Mary Clark. Mary insisted that her conductors gave bell signals, and she was one of the best drivers at Parkhead during the time I was there. She always drove the buses sympathetically with due regard to passenger comfort.

I also later worked with Gibbie Fraser with Eastern Scottish, and Gibbie was a former Corporation driver at Parkhead.

Conductors:- Greg Tassie (my tutor), Juanita Scroggie (John’s wife), and Basil, who was a middle aged Indian chap. He used to carry bags of sweets for children travelling on his bus, and he was famous for working double shifts (and falling asleep as a result whilst standing on the rear platform).

All of the above were genuine “salt of the earth types”, and I reckon they gave excellent service for a lot longer than I did.

I can remember a whole lot more faces, but sadly the names have now gone.

Greenstaff comprised all types, from former builders’ labourers to University graduates who had not yet found that elusive post consistent with their qualifications. Most of us never stayed very long, and those who stuck it 5 years were justifiably awarded a “long” service and good conduct badge. It was nice to be paired up with a long serving colleague, as you knew they had survived everything that had been thrown at them. They also had the answers to most of the problems you would encounter on the road.

The truth ,the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

In the article “Who’d be a Bus Conductor?” the incidents that were described as occurring on a single late night journey on the 22, need further explanation. The fact was that all of the incidents did actually occur on the 22, but not on that same journey. To this day I don’t know why I took the liberty to incorporate everything into the one journey, as it just doesn’t appear credible, especially after the second or third reading. I can now understand why “Bill Peters” utilised that name as a nom de plume, as I suppose one or two of his own accounts may have been challenged. He charges you £14.50 for his book, and neither I nor Ian Semple, the webmaster, charge you anything. I therefore have no qualms about having given my real name. I thought it only fair to “come clean” in the name of maintaining an accurate account of working on the Glasgow Corporation buses. Perhaps there were a few of you who justifiably questioned what you had read, and I am eternally grateful that I never received any e-mails challenging the authenticity of the original article.

I am well aware that this final effort has duplicated my tales of being a bus conductor somewhat, but felt that I had left out some information that should have been included in the original. It has also given me the opportunity to correct some serious errors I had previously made. I hope that anybody who reads it will get the same enjoyment out of it as I had writing it. I’m still waiting in hope that someone who had a longer spell than I had with Glasgow Corporation, and who is more knowledgeable than I am, commits his or her experiences to the Internet, better still to a wee book, or best of all to a big book! My wife constantly complains that the house is full of transport books, but I’ll always have a place for anything published about Glasgow Corporation Transport.

Credit where credit has been due

I am very much indebted to Ewan MacDonald and Brian Houston for finally putting the records straight with regard to my article on Newlands Daimler buses. I promise that I will add your information to the original article and credit you with having supplied the relevant missing information. Also, many thanks to Gary Stewart for his kind words of encouragement, and I hope you put pen to paper soon with your own recollections.

Jim Doyle’s “I Belonged to Glasgow” website is superb with a wealth of information on Glasgow Corporation Transport, and I’m sorry for nitpicking, Jim.

Thanks to “Bill Peters”, whoever you are, and also to Bob Hogg, who have both proved that bus drivers are better than conductors at writing their memoirs. Your memories of Liverpool Corporation make for brilliant reading for enthusiasts of the former Liverpool Corporation undertaking, such as myself.

Lest I forget, had it not been for the encouragement given to me by Ian Semple, then three out of five of my articles would never have seen the light of day. I therefore wish Ian and Alice continued success with the website.

Copyright © 2005 John Walker

John Walker Who would love to hear from other GCT platform staff.