Glasgow Corporation Buses, 1924 - 1973



The first Glasgow Corporation Tramways (GCT) motorbuses, only single deckers at this time, were ordered in 1924 to cover services in Coatbridge and Airdrie while road maintenance was being carried out to the recently acquired tramway service there.  The first livery followed the trams in having orange lower panels, & cream window surrounds with dark red wheels & underframe.  However due to delivery delays GCT had to hire buses from private operators to work the service instead. 
Once delivery of the actual GCT vehicles had been completed it was decided to operate buses on a service from Bridgeton Cross to Maryhill. This service was quite successful and other services were put in place, especially to the new areas which were not served by trams. The first direct replacement of a tram service by buses was the short service from Finnieston to Stobcross Ferry. Probably it was not realised at the time but it was to be the first of many.
GCT buses were still largely seen as an experiment, however in 1928 the decision was made to make buses a large part of future GCT services and the first double deckers were ordered. They were Leyland Titans built in Lancashire. The livery was the same as the single deckers but with the addition of apple green for the panels between the upper & lower deck windows.

In November of 1929, to acknowledge its operation of buses & the Subway in addition to the trams, the Glasgow Corporation 'Tramways Department' was renamed the 'Transport Department'.

GCT was not alone, the majority of motorbuses to be seen in Glasgow during the 1920s belonged to private operators. These grew to over 500 independent buses, which gave GCT a lot of competition. Some of the private operators were known to indulge in dubious practices, such as pulling sharply in front of trams to "poach" waiting passengers from tram stops, and even ejecting current passengers and doing a sharp U-turn, if a large crowd waiting at a stop on the opposite side of the road presented a better opportunity for business. Eventually the Corporation acted and regulations were brought in to limit the operation of private buses within the city boundary.


One of the first batch of GCT buses.



Leyland Lion of 1927.

A 1928, open staircase Leyland Titan.

Enclosed staircase Leyland Titan of 1929.

A 1930 Leyland Titan.

Bus deliveries continued into the 1930s however the tramcar was still the mainstay of GCT's services and buses tended to serve mostly the newer parts of the ever expanding city.
Leylands continued to be the favourite purchase but AEC Regents and Albion Venturers also joined the fleet. By the very late 1930s Regents formed the largest batch of deliveries.
Wartime saw major changes in the city and demands on the transport infastructure. More factories opened up and others increased their staff. Private cars were laid up for the duration. Retired people returned to work and others left to join the armed forces (soon to be boosted by the arrival of many overseas servicemen). Experiments were made in many places with various fuels including gas, oil-creosote & shale oil. Gas operation was only experimental since this fuel was more adaptable to petrol engines (by this time Glasgow buses were all Diesel engined). However several systems were tried using gas plants mounted on chassis extensions or towed on trailers and in one case a roof mounted gas bag. Only about twenty GCT buses used gas and all were reconverted within a short time. Many old buses were withdrawn in these years, but rather than be scrapped, their components were stored for spare parts.
A number of GCT buses even left the city during this period to help out in other areas of Scotland and England, particularly in London.
Some new bus deliveries were made, but in many cases the bodywork was built to a wartime specification using a simplified design and poor quality materials. Many of these buses were quickly refurbished, or rebodied, after the war.


A 1930 AEC Regent, outside Glasgow Cathedral.

Albion Venturer in Buchanan Street, 1936.

Albion Venturer.

1938 AEC Regent.

Daimler, with wartime utility bodywork.

Converted AEC Regent, with gas trailer.

With the end of the war, replacing worn out buses was a priority, but brand new vehicles were difficult to obtain, therefore the Corporation rebodied many pre-war & wartime deliveries.
In 1951 the Inglis Report recommended the closure of the tramway network and their replacement by buses. A decision was made to slowly run down the tramway system. With this and the natural replacement of older vehicles,i the orders for new buses steadily increased.

A new fleet numbering system was introduced. A prefix letter to indicate the make, followed by a subsequential number. A secondary letter 'R' after the make, would indicate a rebuild, and 'S' a single decker.  Another change was the decision by GCT in 1950 to allow advertising on their buses, Underground cars & trams.

Albion Venturers started to be delivered again from 1947 until 1953. The B114-B138 batch of 1951 was the last Albion engined buses built before Albion joined the Leyland group.
AEC Regents were also ordered in fair numbers from 1949 until 1960, the later deliveries having enclosed radiators. By 1962, AEC had also become part of Leyland.
Apart from rebuilds of prewar buses Leyland Titan deliveries did not start again until 1955. They were of the enclosed radiator style, with a slatted front panel. These buses were bodied by W.Alexander Ltd, and GCT, to W.Alexander design.
More Daimlers also joined the fleet between 1949 & 1963, of particular interest was D268, the lone Daimler Fleetline to join GCT. This was very similar to the rear engined Leyland Atlanteans (see below) and was even fitted with identical bodywork, but it would remain a unique chassis model within GCT.
A few more single deckers also joined the fleet, although unpopular with GCT, they were required for various duties & services.

From 1949, Trolleybuses were introduced in several areas of the city to replace some of the tram services. A totally new concept for Glasgow and a popular form of transport in many other cities around the world, it was hoped they would be more economical than motorbuses. A variety of single-deck and double-deck types were used. But in Glasgow, Trolleybuses were largely unliked & unwanted, the last was withdrawn in 1967.  (Trolleybus service map)

In 1959, the livery started to be simplified to aid spray painting. The green now extended over the roof and the orange was extended to the top of the lower deck windows. The cream was restricted to a 7 inch band between decks. The shades of green & orange were also changed.

Albion Venturers.

AEC Regent.

Daimlers.

Leyland Titan.

One of the first GCT Trolleybuses.

A Daimler single-decker.

A new street traffic plan being developed for 1960s, Glasgow would introduce a massive one-way system throughout the city centre, therefore buses would often not be able to hug the nearside pavement as they had done before. The open rear platform was now seen as a safety hazard.  Orders were placed for new body styles with folding doors behind the nearside front axle. This bodywork was developed, & built, by W.Alexander for the new 30 foot long Leyland Titan & AEC Regent chassis, although, as before, many Titans were bodied by GCT itself to the W.Alexander design.
Although these buses were fairly long lived, they would generally be regarded as among the worst post-war buses bought by GCT. The interiors were spartan, and the overall body structure was weak and troublesome, especially around the long rear overhang. They were also unpopular with passengers who were used to jumping on & off the open platform buses at any convenient point. But they did get passengers used to entering & exiting a bus at the front, and no doubt helped ease the transition to Leyland Atlanteans.

Another new type started to be delivered in 1964, the single decker Leyland Panther.  They were intended at the outset for one-man operation but they became increasingly unreliable and as with the Atlanteans, the centre exit doors were ignored by the public and disliked by crews.
Like most GCT single deckers they were short lived, however three Panthers, LS35, LS41, & LS46, were to have a new lease of life rebuilt as coaches for GGPTE.

Leyland Atlanteans, & Titans, in mid 1960s Renfield Street.

A front entrance Leyland Titan.

AEC Regent.



Leyland Panther.


The first Leyland Atlantean, LA1, was delivered in 1958 but was seen as more of an experiment, it was not until 1962 that GCT started to order the type in earnest.
The W. Alexander body supplied with LA1 was disappointingly "boxy" in style, thereafter for LA2 & subsequent deliveries, the Corporation worked with W. Alexander to develop the much more rounded, & stylish "Glasgow style" body, a design which won a lot of favour from other bus operators & bodybuilders, around the country.
The first batches of Atlanteans all had single doors, LA422 was the first to be designed with separate entrance & exit, intended to ease passenger flow. However in later years this arrangement was shown to be unpopular with Glasgow passengers and all two door buses were modified to the single door configuration.
From LA601, the new AN68/1R Atlantean chassis was introduced, and a new all aluminium alloy body featuring (among other changes) flat roofs & equal depth windows on both decks.
The Atlantean was to become the most numerous GCT bus and would remain so throughout the entire GGPTE & SPTE bus operation era.
LA1 has been preserved and is on display at the Museum of Transport, Glasgow.  LA320 has also been saved and is undergoing restoration at the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust.

As a result of local Government reform, 79 years of Glasgow Corporation Transport came to an end on the 1st of June 1973, when the Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Authority and its operational wing, Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive (GGPTE), took over the bus fleet & the Underground.

LA1 on Cathedral Street bridge.

LA2, with "Glasgow style" bodywork.

Dual-door Atlantean.

LA503, with later style front panel.


AN68/1R type LA685 in George Square, 1973.


LA1, now displayed at the Museum of
Transport,
Glasgow.


Further reading...
British Bus, Tram, and Trolleybus, Systems Number 10 - Glasgow Buses, by Stuart Little.

See the book list for more titles.

< Back to the 'Trams, & Buses' main page.

Photo Credits