Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of the Old Glasgow Club

Held at Adelaide's 209 Bath Street

On Thursday 14th January 2016

Attendance: 63


Mr Stuart Little(President) Welcome:

Mr Little thanked everyone for coming along to the first meeting of 2016.

The fire drill procedure and house keeping rules were explained and all mobile phones were requested to be switched off or to silent.

Mr Little also told members that the December minutes had been distributed electronically to members who had requested them.


Isabel Haddow, Petrina Cairns, Shona Crozer, Maureen McRobb, Jim O’Kane, Molly Chrichton, Dorothy Blair, Margaret Morrison, Agnes Coyle, Pat Hannah, Alison Sannachan and Gillian McGoogan.

Minutes of last ordinary meeting held on 10th December were approved and proposed by Sallie Marshall and seconded by Ruaraidh Clark.  There were no amendments.

President’s Report:

Mr Little explained that it was difficult to fill the bus at a reasonable price and that he had 2 proposals.

1.     Hire our usual coach and visit a place not so easily accessible.

2.     Visit more local places within the Glasgow area and have members bring their own lunch.

Mr Little is currently negotiating with Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust to obtain an old style bus for the second option.  A show of hand was requested for the preferred option.  The members voted for option 1.  A final decision will be made in due course.

Secretary’s Report:

Mrs McNae quickly ran through the slides telling of current exhibitions and forthcoming events which had been circulating on the screen prior to the start of the meeting.  She also informed members that the Molendinar Lecture, entitled “Lord, let Glasgow flourish :

What makes a city tick?” would be taking place at the City Chambers this evening.

The Turner Prize Exhibition at the Tramway will finish this coming Sunday 17th January.

Elizabeth MacDonald had given details of a Tribute Afternoon to Matt McGinn on Sunday 17th January at 1.00pm in the Two Heided Man Hope Street.  On Sat 30th January there will also be a Historical Walk commencing at 1.00pm from the Scott Monument in George Square.

Mr & Mrs McNae had attended a lecture at Glasgow City Heritage Trust headquarters in Bell Street on Wednesday 13th January, entitled 'Historic Market Places of the World'– the first talk concentrated mainly on the Briggait, with the second concentrating on markets in Cuba and Barcelona which has 40 markets.  The Briggait lecture ended with a four minute video featuring the  Barras which was then played to the club and can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVNKGELTTx8. Or enter “the Barras three pairs for a pound” in to Google!  You are guaranteed to keep repeating that line for the rest of the day! 

Mrs McNae also requested members to pick up and distribute our leaflets and also thanked Petrina Cairns for her continuing upkeep of Face Book.  Members night will be on 11th February and Glen Collie will be our speaker for March.



Dr Alistair Ramsey  “Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust”

Mr Little then introduced our speaker for the evening, Dr Alistair Ramsey MBE, who is also a Company Secretary and a former teacher.

Alistair thanked the Old Glasgow Club for the invitation and told us that he retired 10 years ago and that a big part of his life is spent at the Bridgeton Depot.

Alistair explained that the Trust took over in 1999 and was managed by Scotland against Drugs when the council budget put money into communities to try and get drug users into work.  It was very difficult to get employers to take on users so a number of programmes were set up.

“Back on the Road” was started at Bridgeton Garage after a business man who had 100 vintage buses agreed to allow 1 of his vehicles to be restored by the Trust.  Alistair told us that most of the addicts were unable to read, write or measure. 3 addicts were offered a place with the agreement that they had to turn up for work every day and do a reasonable days work. They would be paid a wage and would be given a job at the end of their 6 month programme. The boys worked hard and restored the bus from a wreck to be fully running.

Glasgow Bus Museum closed its doors and Glasgow Vehicle Trust was born and since 2003 it has occupied the former Glasgow bus garage at Fordneuk Street, Bridgeton.  

Alistair showed an excellent photographic display of various buses that had been restored and are now fully functional.  There were also pictures of the bike repair area which is also manned by people with problems. 

Alistair explained that often when buses have been decommissioned they are bought by farmers or builders and used to transport workers around.  When of no further use the buses are often just dumped in the hope that someone might come along and buy it.  The buses are stripped down to see if they can be salvaged.

Scotland against Drugs closed in 2006 and is now funded privately.  Drink/drug addicts or Community Service people are taken on to revamp the buses. The object is to give work experience and prepare for a return to employment and society in general.

Alistair showed us an example of a 1961 Leyland PD2 which had been in storage for 20 years and had its panels and bearers replaced  and engine repaired and is now fully restored to the Glasgow Corporation colours.

The machine room at Bridgeton was given £30k to get it up and running.  It now has the facility to take up to 10 buses over the pits to work on repairs.  There is also a machine to cut, roll and fold any piece of metal.

Glasgow Corporation had 1500 vehicles around their various garages and would sell to other companies when their life span was nearing its end. 1970’s buses were made to last 15 to 20 years but often lasted 3 decades.  End of life buses were used for training drivers or cut down to be used as recovery vehicles. 

Alistair then took us through the various types of buses used over the years.  A 1948 bus has been fully restored and is on display at the Riverside Museum.  “Backenders” were in use in the sixties with the driver in isolation, a conductor was needed on these buses.  The eighties saw the use of single deckers together with double deckers.  

In the collection at the depot there is a 1990 Olympian build in Northern Ireland.  MacBraynes buses did the Oban, Fort William and Inverness routes and also carried the mail.  West Coast carried on when MacBraynes finished.  The oldest bus in the collection is Maltese, the second oldest is a 1938 Leyland Lion.  There are examples of buses used to ferry the school dinners to the various schools as well as transporting children.  Fire engines and lorries are also on display. The red Western buses are unique as they have low rise benches for trees hitting the buses on the country routes. There is also a bus which lost its top going under a low bridge but gained fame as the bus used for “Ali’s Tartan Army”.  

Part of the building  is devoted to a display of transport history, for example ticket machines and destination boards.  An £85k grant from the Lottery fund was awarded to the depot and used for restoration.  

In 1984 the buses were deregulated,  Glasgow was swamped by private operators and was just about wall to wall with buses.  

The upkeep of the depot is expensive, the cost of electricity is around £84k per annum the maintenance of the roof is between £6k – £10k a year.  With an income of £5k a month the rest of the money comes from renting the premises for films, fashion shoots etc.  The sight seeing open top buses are housed there during the winter months for a fee and during the Commonwealth games 40 buses were accommodated at Bridgeton during the period of the games which earned the depot £25k.

Alistair advised us that the depot is open to the public on the 1st Sunday of the month starting in April as well as its open weekend on 8th -9th October and “Doors Open” in September.

Q.  I notice that you didn’t mention bendy buses.

A. Bendy buses take up twice the space as a normal bus and were considered a fire risk. Arriva shipped these buses to Malta and when the contract collapsed they were shipped on to Africa.

Q. Did the biggest selling bus go back to Sydney?

A. No the bus alternates between us and Fife.

Q. Do you have a carcass of a tram car?

A. Yes but don’t know what will happen to it as most of the members are over 70yrs and not as fit to work on it.

Q. Do you have reciprocal arrangements with other transport museums?

A. Yes buses are sent to other venues for open days.  The Maltese bus is to go to England for display and we work closely with other organisations.

Q. I very much enjoyed your talk.  What has been the dearest bus to restore?

A. The Maltese bus took 7 years to restore at a cost of £50k to get to the condition it’s in. Other buses can cost as much as £85k. It’s not the value of the vehicle but the cost of the parts.

Q. This is not a question but a story.  One night my wife came home and said that Joe went through the window again. He always sat in the same seat and went through the window 3 times.

A.  I travelled on the 44 to Mount Florida and always fell asleep at the back of the bus.

Q. Are there in females in the drug rehab progamme?

A. Females are not prepared to do this type of work it just doesn’t appeal to them.

Vote of thanks – Stuart Little.

Stuart thanked Alistair for his very interesting talk although he was a bit peeved to classed as over 70 as he is a lot younger than that.  It was good to get an insight into the work and social aspect of the Trust, helping people make a better job of life.  Stuart will keep us updated on the progress  of the museum.  

AOCB: none

Next Ordinary Meeting - 11th February at Adelaides.  This meeting is open to friends and members.  It is Members Night and we will be representing some of the trades in our city.  Next Directors Meeting – 5th February at Berkeley Street.

                                                                                          Sallie Marshall

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