Tuesday 23 August 2011

Davy's Mill Delights Massively [2]

Public Transport up in the Air?

fbb is not an expert in the history of bus services in Scotland, gleaning a few snippets from Mrs fbb-to-be and reading the occasional book.

Milngavie (that's the Davy's Mill of the title, see episode 1, read again) was served by Glasgow Trams and buses of the Alexander Midland company. The latter's route 11 ran via Maryhill and the 12 via the so-called switchback road and Anniesland. The Glasgow terminus was Killermont Street bus station ...
... a dark and dismal edifice replaced from 1976 by the present Buchanan site. Alexander's Milngavie depot was literally at the bottom of Mosshead Road not more than 200 yards from the future Mrs' home. The depot was big, with substantial undercover accommodation and outside hard standing. It had an office where the public could go and buy a "bus timetable book" (remember those?)
The rather dilapidated fbb slide (above) shows the depot in the mid 70s. But below is a service 12, probably in the late 40s, passing the depot. The picture is captioned (on-line) as a No 12 bus on its way to Milgavie Station. In fact it would have gone to Milngavie Cross; but this bus is going in the opposite direction away from the town and probably back to the depot after completing its day's work..
The house on the left is till there today, but surrounded by light industry, car sales companies and the dreaded fast food outlets.
And below is another bus from the batch close to Buchanan railway station later to become the site of Buchanan bus station.
The next snap is from the early 50s and shows the competing tram nudging past the the bus depot.
The Corporation trams reached Milngavie on 7th October 1934 and were withdrawn, leaving the market exclusively to Alexander Midland on 22nd October 1961.

But there is a third mode of public transport in this picture and it lies, half hidden against the trees behind the bus depot buildings. Demolished in 1956 it represents yet another noble British (Scottish?) failure.

The delightful depot is no more (having been closed in 1987 as an "economy measure"), now merely a "blasted heath", a brown field site, awaiting some glass and concrete monstrosity to further overwhelm the former rural Milngavie Road between Hillfoot and "Davy's Mill"
To the right of this shot is the Allander Leisure Centre ...
... and immediately behind that is the railway from Milngavie to Glasgow and beyond; another clue.

Part 3 will reveal all.

Next blog : due Wednesday August 24th  


  1. "The house on the left" above, I think was a pair of semi-detached council houses. The depot manager or "District Traffic Superintendent" used to live in one of the houses, across the road from the garage, Mr James Scobie in the late 1960s. I remember being impressed by this example of local authority support for public transport, in a suburban area with expensive house prices. Milngavie Town Council was too small to run its own buses but at least helped the organisation that did, with a cheap house "beside the shop" for the top man, who probably wasn't that well paid (he was a driver and inspector before promotion). Today's top transport people, the accountants, probably commute from miles away using BMWs, if they go near bus garages at all.

  2. The houses were owned by the bus company.

  3. I lived in the left-hand house during my teens. My father, the late John Dornan, was depot manager (D.T.S.) before moving to Alexander's head office in Falkirk when he took over responsibility for all Alexander Midland depots in 1967. Jimmy Scobie then took over from my father. The depot engineer, Bob Garrow, lived in the right-hand house.

    John Dornan (jnr)

    1. Just browsing, came across this. Your father started me in Milngavie as a student conductor in summer 1967, the following Year Jimmy Scobie started me as a driver. I still have full licence, now aged 66. Your father was a pleasant gentleman who made me feel at my ease, and on the odd occasion I had to appear before him for disciplinary reasons, was fair and understanding. I recollect he seldom if ever wore uniform - Scobie always did. Am I right in that memory? From Clen Mackenzie, clen146@sky.com

  4. My late father was a bus driver for Alexanders at Milngavie garage from 1953 to Dec 1960. He married my step-mother in 1955 - she was his regular conductress on the half-cab double deckers working to/from Glasgow.
    For some years, he was the drivers' union rep and lived in a caravan behind the garage. My only visit to his 'workplace was in July 1960, about 6 months before he emigrated to Australia. I vaguely recall the Corporation tram tracks in the vicinity, also my dad told me a wee bit about the (failed) Bennie Railplane. 60 years on, details are hazy, as I was a 12 year old laddie. I do remember Bearsden, but not Mosshead Rd.