Old Bus Photos

Eastern Counties – Bristol MW – KAH 641D – LM641

Eastern Counties - Bristol MW - KAH 641D - LM641

Eastern Counties Omnibus Company
Bristol MW5G
ECW B30D+30

One of two strange versions delivered to ECOC at about the time as the first RESLs were being delivered. Who would put a centre door on an MW with its very high centre section of chassis bearing the engine, instead of waiting a few months for a Bristol RE with its unencumbered central lower frame?
The centre doors didn’t last long, I understand! I think one of them became the Kings Cliffe outstation (Northants – the furthest outstation from Norwich!) vehicle to carry higher peak loads! Thank goodness for OMO double decks very soon after!
The above photograph was taken at Cremorne Lane Works, Norwich on Feb 11, 1967 before the bus entered service. It is nice to know that ECOC buses had destinations other than "SERVICE" available!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Geoff Pullin

17/03/16 – 05:13

Strange indeed, Geoff. Thanks for posting. Why would anyone in Bristol or ECW want to produce such a beast, knowing that the RE was on its way, and why would Eastern Counties want it?

Pete Davies

19/03/16 – 17:38

Stockport had dual doorway Leopards and Manchester dual doorway Tiger Cubs, Panther Cubs and Panthers and had double decker OMO working not been made legal, would have had many more Panthers.

Phil Blinkhorn

17/03/16 – 05:13

What a different MW. Was this an Eastern Counties one off or were did other Tilling Companies have them? Strange to see the glazed roof coves, on both sides too. Also I would have expected the exit door to be in the next bay forward of where it is.

Ian Wild

17/03/16 – 05:14

Well, to answer your question about who would put a centre door on an MW, Wilts & Dorset did the same to a converted coach. I think it ran for a few years in that form, but I cannot find any photos on the web at the moment.

Nigel Frampton

17/03/16 – 07:54

Thanks for that, Nigel. Converting a down-graded coach is one thing, and I think I have a ‘bought’ slide of it somewhere – I’ll see if I can dig it out for others to see if they wish – but one straight off the factory line?

Pete Davies

17/03/16 – 09:16

This was an attempt, it seems, at a standee bus but where for, I know not. I thought there were some similar Leeds efforts on this site with steep steps and standee windows, but can’t spot them- did they try one or two types?


17/03/16 – 09:17

The centre door as placed would be the only option – the bay further forward had the engine oil sump come well over to the nearside.
The glazed roof coves look to be the ‘standard’ parts from coach MWs and presumably were added because of the standee nature of the bus (for the same reason as Reading’s REs had very tall side windows).

Peter Delaney

17/03/16 – 10:46

Joe, Leeds had saloons with centre entrance bodies all bodied by Roe and all featuring the standee windows. They were repeated on the AEC Swifts with Roe bodywork delivered in 1967.
The original standee saloons were on Guy, AEC and Leyland chassis with a later pair of Reliances entering service in the late fifties.

Chris Hough

17/03/16 – 15:22

There is a photo of this vehicle when new in MG Doggett & AA Townsin’s book ‘ECW 1965-1987’. It was one of two trial dual-door standee MW5Gs (LM640/641) delivered to ECOC in November 1966. Each was capable of carrying 60 passengers – 30 seated and 30 standing – but were of differing internal layout. The accompanying caption states "the area for standing passengers was concentrated at the rear of LM640(KAH 640D), there being single seats on each side of the gangway towards the rear to provide a standing area behind the exit doorway". An interior shot of LM640 shows this feature, together with normal double seats at each side ahead of the exit door. Relating to the second standee MW LM641(KAH 641D), the authors state that "a row of single seats were provided along the offside of the vehicle to give room for a standing area along its length". A picture of the interior shows this together with a longitudinal seat over the front offside wheelarch, plus normal double seats along the nearside from front to rear.
Regarding Geoff’s comment about the height of the steps at the central exit, dual doorway REs also had steps there as the RESL/RELL chassis sloped up gradually towards the rear in order to clear the engine. The exit steps were probably shallower on the RE, but being just ahead of the rear axle I would not have thought by very much though. A fascinating pair of vehicles indeed, and thank you very much for posting the photo of LM641 Geoff.    Wonderful.

Brendan Smith

18/03/16 – 09:03

In my response to Nigel Frampton’s comment, I said I thought I had and would try to dig out a slide of the Wilts & Dorset converted coach. It’s attached, as is a view of one of Lancaster’s trio of twin-door Leopards. BOTH are bought, and I’ve no idea who took the originals. The Wilts came via Paul Caudell and the Leopard came via Arnold Richardson’s Photobus collection.

RMR 992

102 UTF

What makes Wilts & Dorset RMR 992 look even more odd is the old coach-type forward door and its kink in the pillar. So far as I can recall, 101 to 103 UTF were the only twin door vehicles Lancaster bought (prior to the merger with Morecambe & Heysham) and I think it must have been something of a failed experiment – the centre door was hardly ever activated on the services I used. Wilts & Dorset RMR 992 is seen at what looks to be Salisbury Bus Station and Lancaster 102 UTF is inside Kingsway depot.

Pete Davies

18/03/16 – 15:52

KAH 641D_2

Never thought I would find myself contributing to a post on an Eastern Counties MW but KAH 641D was the only one of its type that I have ever driven.
This came about after ECOC took over Burwell & District Motor Services on 10th June 1979. The new regime, under a youthful Ben Colson went to great lengths to cover B&D commitments as required by the Traffic Commissioners at the time. B&D operated a contract/service (not 100% sure which) at the time to carry pupils from Burwell to Soham Village College which parents had to pay for as the free option was for Burwell pupils to go to Newmarket Upper School, for which B&D provided 3 or 4 buses daily. This bus was drafted in briefly to cover odd runs and my diary records that on Friday 15th. June 1979 I was on a rest day but came in to cover the 08:15 Burwell-Soham service 116 with LM641. This journey was made a short working of the established (and much missed) service 116 from Newmarket to ELy, via Burwell.
Fortunately I had my camera with me and stopped in a layby on the way back to Burwell to take a photo as I have always tried to keep a record of every vehicle that I have driven. I was able to wind on the correct route number but with no blind fitted it was not even possible to display the favourite ECOC destination of SERVICE!
My PM duty was 16:00 Newmarket school-Burwell with the same bus, no doubt I was paid more for those 2 short journeys as a rest day working than I would have earned from driving back and forth all day from Burwell to Cambridge with B&D.
The best thing in my memory of ECOC was the wages, as I only lasted 3 months before they gave me till the end of the week to join the union, so I gave them till the end of the week to find another driver!

Jim Neale

19/03/16 – 06:48

Another batch of two-door underfloor engined single deckers was London Transport’s RW 1-3 the experimental AEC Reliance/Willowbrook delivered in 1960 and sold to Chesterfield in 1963. The exit door on these was one bay further forward and they also glazed cove panels five on the O/S but only three on the N/S none being fitted over the centre door.

Diesel Dave

19/03/16 – 09:27

Rochdale had two batches of AEC Reliances with dual door bodies. Weymann bodied 16-20 and East Lancs bodied 21-23. The East Lancs version had the ‘centre’ door further forward, immediately behind the front wheel while the Weymanns had it just in front of the rear wheel. These buses were all introduced as opo vehicles onto routes previously worked by double deckers which at that time in the early sixties obviously had conductors. The dual door arrangement was intended to speed up boarding and alighting times to counter the delay of the driver having to collect fares.

Philip Halstead

19/03/16 – 17:41

Stockport had dual doorway Leopards and Manchester dual doorway Tiger Cubs, Panther Cubs and Panthers and had double decker OMO working not been made legal, would have had many more Panthers.

Phil Blinkhorn

20/03/16 – 06:42

Looking through the comments made me think and check out my memory and I found yet more two door underfloor single deckers in the form of Lincoln City Transport No’s 81-87 Reg No’s MFE 993-999 Tiger Cubs with Roe B41D bodies with the exit door just in front of the rear wheels new in late 1958. Also Portsmouth Corporation had a batch of Tiger Cubs No’s 16-25 Reg No’s TTP 990-999.
with Weymann B34D bodies with the exit door in a similar position new in May 1960.

Diesel Dave

20/03/16 – 08:31

This is becoming a very interesting discussion. My point was that, until the advent of the AEC Swift, Leyland Panther and Bristol RE was that twin-door single deckers were something of a rarity and, yes, even then, many fleets stayed with the single door.
All I can think of was that it may well have been an experiment to see if loading/unloading times improved, and by how much, in the early days of one-man operation. My experience is that most operators went back to single door vehicles.

Pete Davies

20/03/16 – 10:07

Although not common-place in the early 50s, more underfloor engined single deckers were built as dual door saloons by Bristol/ECW than the ones mentioned so far. Over a decade before the MW, ECW bodied one of the prototype Bristol LS (NHU 2) with dual doors – in that case with the additional doorway behind the rear axle. Hants and Dorset’s bus bodied LS were all delivered in that format, though converted to front door only in the late 1950s, and United Counties also had batches in similar style, some as DP rather than bus versions, whilst Wilts and Dorset had several batches of dual doorway DP LSs. I think Eastern National may also had an example to that layout. The structure of an LS frame was such as to dictate the position of the rear doorway.

Peter Delaney

23/03/16 – 05:43

RMR 992_2

Here we see RMR 992 again now with "Hants & Dorset". It seems to have had a rather hard time of it since it was last washed.

David Grimmett

23/03/16 – 17:17

Such damage in service is so typical of the drop in standards once NBC took over. I say this because the vehicle is clearly not in a depot. Do we know where this photo was taken, David?
And I notice that H&D has adopted the useful ECOC destination of SERVICE!

Chris Hebbron

24/03/16 – 05:57

Chris, the later photo of RMR992 looks to be in Salisbury Bus Station. W&D did also make use of "Service" in the destination displays, although not as much as some.

Nigel Frampton

24/03/16 – 05:57

Yes, RMR 992 could still have looked a handsome bus, even with its rebuild to bus use. The mid-door for exit is reasonably done, and the revised indicators are very neat. Even the metal trim below the windows has been retained. However, we sadly miss the Tilling red of Wilts & Dorset or Tilling green of Hants & Dorset, either of which would make this a bus to be proud of. Sadly, this didn’t happen here, with the side dent, and it’s need of a wash. The use of "service" as a destination is also regrettable. Hopefully passengers had a good ride, as it retains the upper windows to lighten the interior.

Michael Hampton

24/03/16 – 05:57

RMR 992 is on the stand, reversed in, in Salisbury bus station. The bus station layout was a reversed L with access from the offside of the bus. It was in the seventies that buses started driving on to this stand and reversing off,rather than reversing on.

Steve Barnett

24/03/16 – 16:56

According to BBF No 1 Portsmouth Corporation had a batch of 10 dual Door PSUC1/1 Tiger cubs Nos 16 – 25 in 1950 and 31 Leopard L1s Nos 131 – 161 in 1961/62/66.

Barrie Lee

25/03/16 – 16:09

Of course the London Reliances were based on the Grimsby Cleethorpes design of which there were 24 (the last ones to the later BET design) and both Chesterfield and Aberdare were also customers.
I wonder if it was Willowbrook’s advertisements that led to LT purchasing their three:

Stephen Allcroft

26/03/16 – 05:14

Barrie Lee has correctly identified the Tiger Cubs of Portsmouth (Nos 16-25, delivered 1959 and into service 1960), but the L1 Leopards were Nos 131-142 (1961) and 143-149 (1963). They were all dual entrance/exit, the Tiger Cubs being B34D+26 (soon altered to B32D+26 for a luggage rack), and the Leopards were all B42D+16. If I recall correctly, the main "standee" space was centrally placed opposite the exit doors. The saloons numbered 150-161 were Panther Cubs new in 1967. Portsmouth had a possibly unique arrangement for the exit doors. Some time ago, I contributed an article about it on this site, "One Small Step for a Portsmouth Passenger". This arrangement applied to these and all succeeding saloons, plus later Atlanteans until the arrival of the Leyland National.

Michael Hampton

26/03/16 – 05:14

Halifax JOC took delivery of a solitary L2 Leopard with Weymann two-door body in 1961 (231, OCP 231). It was not viewed with favour by the drivers’ union membership and I believe the centre door remained closed in service. It lived a shadowy existence in this form, being mostly banished to working the local Field Lane and Oaklands services based in Brighouse. Another sixteen similar Leopards based on the more appropriate L1 chassis and with single door layout were due in 1962, and 231 was soon sent back to Weymann to be rebuilt to match them.

John Stringer

27/03/16 – 07:30

Regarding RMR 992: did this just retain an unpowered front coach door after conversion to dual-door configuration? – both photographs suggest the door is locked open.

Philip Rushworth

27/03/16 – 09:56

I remember traveling on RMR when it found itself at Romsey outstation and I’m sure the door front door was electrically run as it was one-man operated (as we used to know it!).

Steve Barnett

28/03/16 – 11:12

I am reasonably sure that, in David Grimmett’s photo of RMR 992 (23/03/16 – 05:43), the vehicle is, in fact, still in Tilling Red. It is the same shade as the adjacent LH, which is clearly still in Tilling livery, the cream window surrounds being the determining factor. Accepting that colour reproduction can vary on different computer systems, monitors, etc, but this colour looks quite different to the rather orangey appearance of NBC red in the first couple of years.
H&D applied NBC style fleetnames to a lot of vehicles that were still in Tilling liveries, and this roughly followed the instructions of the NBC corporate image policy. However, that required the cream relief to be repainted white, even if the complete vehicle was not painted, and that white fleetnames should be applied. In practice, H&D seem only to have used a few white fleetnames in this way, and most of the temporary ones were cream, which better matched the original livery, and the cream relief was also left untouched. Presumably, since RMR 992 didn’t have any cream relief, it was deemed appropriate to use a white fleetname.
H&D and W&D purchased several single deckers with dual doors from the 1950s to the early 1970s, but there seems to have been a distinct absence of logic. The LSs all seem to have been rebuilt to single door configuration quite early in their lives, but then, from the mid 1960s, virtually all new single deck buses had two doors – the Bedfords, the RELL buses, and even the first deliveries of LHs. The RELL DPs had only one door, but soon tended to be used interchangeably with their dual door bus-seated sisters, particularly when the earlier DPs were replaced on longer distance services by newer deliveries. The passengers were no doubt simply confused, and probably found the five extra seats of the DPs more useful than the extra door. When Leyland Nationals took over from REs as standard single deck fare, the dual door policy was abandoned altogether.

Nigel Frampton

28/03/16 – 13:33

The motto of 360 Squadron, Royal Air Force, seems to apply in Nigel’s explanation of the H&D/W&D liveries under NBC – CONFUNDEMUS (We shall throw into confusion).

Pete Davies

08/04/16 – 06:09

Peter D mentions older two door ECW LS bodies. They were built in the era before OPO (if that is the PC phrase). I suspect that the management attitude was that the conductor would be at the rear to look after that door, despite being power operated. I am sure most conductors would gravitate to the front to chat to the driver. The ‘Do not speak to the driver…’ notices were a later addition required for the certification of a vehicle to operate OPO.
With regard to ECOC LM641, I was interested to see that two vehicles had different internal layouts. I was area engineer in the east then and both vehicles probably ‘went west’.
I also surmise that the vehicles were part of GM Tom Skinner’s innovations see Eastern Counties – selected memories  and that they may have been initiated before the delivery of REs was anticipated. The final MW deliveries were getting so late that many Tilling companies had their orders truncated and centrally(?) replaced by RESLs (the nearest replacement, rather than RELLs). I don’t think the 46 seater RESL caused Union problems at ECOC, being one over the more normal 45 seat maximum, but going beyond that certainly needed negotiation in all companies!
In Jim Neale’s photo of LM641 from 1979, it is interesting to see that the last nearside quarter light has been reglazed with black rubber – the cream version didn’t stay in production for very long. I would have expected the front destination to be so treated, for in the eastern area the MW destination glass was just the right height to hit a tardy pheasant that had been taken by surprise and several needed replacement on outstation based vehicles!

Geoff Pullin

13/05/16 – 06:04

The “Omnibus Magazine” of June 1967 states that LM640 and LM641 were allocated to Bury St. Edmunds and Peterborough on March 1st 1967 but had returned to store at Norwich within two weeks. Clearly they weren’t very popular!

Nigel Turner


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Bristol Omnibus – Bristol MW5G – 936 RAE – 2577

Bristol Omnibus - Bristol MW5G - 936 RAE - 2577

Bristol Omnibus
Bristol MW5G

Typical but not typical!
On Sunday, June 28, 1964, a Bristol MW5G (typical) Wells depot bus stands at Clevedon Six Ways awaiting departure on service 157. This was the first day of operation of a new (not typical in those days!) Sunday only service to attract tourists. The service didn’t run in 1965!
The destination display was the BOC standard at the time, I think known to ECW as the Z layout. It was unique in the Tilling group for having a four track number display, adopted to cope with the addition of suffix letters became rife. In the city, L (short working) W (works service) and the route variations A, B, C and D were added to existing route numbers that could already have three digits.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Geoff Pullin

31/01/16 – 13:33

I grew up in Bristol and had never heard of this 157 service, maybe not surprising at it was so short lived.
Suffix letter W was not used for works services. F, H and J were those generally used for extensions beyond Filton to the aircraft factories or beyond Avonmouth to the smelting and chemical works. C was used for journeys on cross-city routes terminating in the central area. K was used for school services – K for Kids, we all assumed!
Bristol city services were renumbered below 100 in 1966, and at the same time Country routes were renumbered without suffix letters so four track number blinds were no longer needed.

Geoff Kerr

01/02/16 – 07:35

This picture brings back happy memories of schooldays in Wells and riding these vehicles on service 165 to Glastonbury. They were in the very smart OMO livery with more cream then.

Richard Stubbings

04/12/19 – 07:11

I have just realised that there is another ‘untypical’ aspect to this vehicle. Like 2568 – C2607, it was built with the air suspension option that became available in 1962. Eric Hardy, Chief Engineer of BOC at the time specified the air suspension option to reduce lifetime costs, including an easier life for the bodywork. BOC was the only company to specify the option for stage vehicles and I heard him complain bitterly when BCV deleted the option for the last sanctions of MWs. It was all very sad that the first MWs delivered on leaf springs to the company after the deletion of the option (2137) had dual purpose bodywork and coach livery!
Pondering this anomaly, I wonder if the last batch of leaf-sprung MWs were shoe-horned into production a bit quick to fill a gap because the RE low frame chassis was running late. The outstanding orders for MWs for some companies (eg ECOC) were satisfied with air sprung – no option -RESLs!

Geoff Pullin


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Western SMT – Bristol MW6G – MSD 358 – NT1494

MSD 358

Western Scottish Motor Traction Co. Limited
Bristol MW6G
Alexander C41F

MSD 358; fleet number NT1494, is a 1959 Bristol MW6G, one of 52 with Alexander C41F bodies built for Western SMT. They remained in service until 1977, which speaks volumes for the build quality of the body and chassis and the thoroughness of Western’s maintenance programme. The wheel trims on the vehicle behind would suggest that its an AEC, it has a coach door, and at the risk of splitting hairs I would say this ones folding doors and grab rails on the backs of the seats are more the type associated with a DP rather than a coach. This style of body was widely used by SMT group operators, and they were a common sight on the Newcastle to Edinburgh and Glasgow services jointly operated with United. They have a resemblance to the Park Royal bodies of the era, and I always thought they were attractive vehicle. However, unlike the later ‘Y’ type that became a common sight throughout the UK, they were never that popular South of the Border, although North Western did have a few.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

22/05/14 – 07:27

North Western’s used the BET standard bus shell (known to Alexander as the Z type) with a straight waist-rail and equal windows throughout the length except for the very rear. Alexanders just stuck their front end (as seen on this vehicle) onto the BET spec body. North Western called them "Highlanders" and painted them in coach livery. As a coach they made a perfectly acceptable dual-purpose vehicle!

Neville Mercer

22/05/14 – 07:28

Ronnie, I think you’ll find that North Western’s examples were of the straight waistrail variant. You could almost say that this one anticipated bus grant type doors by a good few years!

Chris Barker

22/05/14 – 07:28

The North Western vehicles came in 1961as Reliances in 30 ft length with a straight window line and equal length windows plus roof quarter lights. They were followed in 1962 by the 36 ft version on the Leopard chassis.

Phil Blinkhorn

22/05/14 – 07:29

Strange to think that they also had almost identical Guys. Both were highly regarded so must simply have been a dual sourcing thing. Strictly speaking, the only English examples belonged to Barton – North Western never had any of these. What North Western DID have were standard BET bodies (built by Alexanders) but with this front grafted on. These were on Reliances and its first PSU3 Leopards. The recent book on the Y type points out that this twin flat screen design lasted into the ’80s as it was still being used on AL deckers – such as those delivered between 1973 and 1981 to STD and, later, SYPTE.

David Oldfield

22/05/14 – 14:22

Fully agree with the quality of build and good maintenance Ronnie – I recall the Guys working out of Carlisle on services to Annan as late as 1976. What struck me most about Western SMT in those days was that the vehicles were usually turned out in an immaculate condition. The fully lined out livery was also superb though it lost its edge once standard SBG fleet names replaced gold at the end of the decade.

Mike Morton

23/05/14 – 07:55

As well as Barton James Smith & Co (Wigan) Ltd and the associated Webster Bros (Wigan) both had Leyland Tiger Cub versions of this body. The six Barton Tiger Cubs were operated for over 19 years and then sold on to other operators. Now that is long service particularly as Tiger Cubs were considered by many to be too lightweight and not up to the job!

Alan Oxley

23/05/14 – 07:56

David, I think that you might have forgotten the batch supplied to Smiths of Wigan, some of which later served with Green Bus. There was also the Lancashire-registered Tiger Cub/Alexander demonstrator TTB 80 which served with Caelloi Motors in Pwllhelli before ending up with Partridge of Hadleigh (and burning out at the depot!)

Neville Mercer

23/05/14 – 13:06

I stand corrected. Thanks, chaps.

David Oldfield

26/05/14 – 09:36

Note the use of service number ’30X’. The joint Western SMT/Ribble Lancashire-Scottish services, on paper at least, carried different service numbers north and south of Carlisle. The daytime Manchester-Glasgow service was X30 in the Ribble series (and therefore the service number south of Carlisle) and 97A in the WSMT series (north of Carlisle). Maybe WSMT didn’t have letters in the first of the three ‘number’ blinds and so ‘X30′ was displayed as ’30X’. The night service was numbered X20 and 97B on the same basis.
In the summer 1964 timetable the northbound X30 took 9 hours 45 minutes end to end (9 hours 33 minutes southbound). Quite a marathon!
Can anyone tell if this photo was taken in the Manchester area? Perhaps the railway catenary at top right is a clue?

David Slater

03/06/14 – 07:35

Manchester is highly plausible, since very few places had overhead electrified railways in 1959. Manchester had two going on three (Altrincham and Sheffield, with Crewe in progress). So, taking a stab in the dark, I’d suggest the pointy building in the background is not unlike the City Road Inn at the junction of Albion Street and Whitworth Street West. That’s right beside the Altrincham line and a stone’s throw from Lower Moseley Street bus station. Though looking on Street View its hard to place the viewpoint. But so much as obviously changed around there in the intervening 55 years.


03/06/14 – 11:16

Keith has the location spot on as far as I’m concerned. This was a regular overflow parking spot for Lower Mosley St Bus Station.

Phil Blinkhorn

11/07/14 – 16:29

There was also a 1955 example of this style for Kingston Coaches on Guy Arab LUF; the furthest south this style got.
Alan Oxley will know but I think either Barton or Western SMT were the last customer for this version, Barton switching to Reliances from 1955.
By 1956 the Alexander and SOL were taking a straight waist variant.

Stephen Allcroft

13/10/15 – 06:27

I Remember Edinburgh Corporation had Coaches of this type in its City Tours Fleet. They were on Leyland chassis and looked very smart in there Black and Ivory Colours similar to Western SMTs London coaches. When they were finished with there coaching duties they were sold to Ulster at the beginning of the 1960s. Does anyone have any photos when they were with Edinburgh

George Fender

16/08/16 – 07:26

In the late 60’s, as a student, I travelled several times on the night bus from Manchester to Glasgow. I don’t know about other nights of the week, but on Fridays there were so many passengers that there were three buses. Once you were "in the know", if you were going all the way to Glasgow, it paid to turn up at Lower Moseley Street half an hour in advance of the scheduled time as the first of the three buses would leave early and full and only stop at Penrith for toilets and the all-night cafe. The first time I made the journey, I was on the third bus, which left at the advertised time and stopped everywhere, of course getting to Penrith just after a lot of other buses going north and south so the queue at the cafe was just too long to contemplate. As I remember it, though, even the third bus would arrive at Glasgow much earlier than timetabled.

Malcolm Wood


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