Old Glasgow Club
Minutes of ordinary meeting of the club held at Adelaide’s 209 Bath Street on Thursday 8th December 2011.
Attendance Due to storm warnings an intrepid 11
Mrs Alison Sannachan (President)
Mrs Sannachan welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for venturing out in such weather. Wondering if those in attendance were intrepid or quite mad!
This would be a very informal evening.
Ronnie Knox, Graham Smith, Petrina Cairns, Gaynor MacKinnon, Sallie Marshall, Jane Collie, Margaret McCormack, Stuart Little, Sam Gordon, Elizabeth Smith, Graham Smith, Maureen Smith, Mary Rodger, Iain Cunningham, Anna Forrest, Linda Muir, Sheila McLaughlin, Bill Crawford, Alistair Ross, Jim Allen, Rosemary Sannachan, Sharon Macys, Ann Mannell, Dougie Brookes
Due to numbers present the minutes of last ordinary meeting held on 10th November were held over until the January meeting.
Due to the informality of the evening there was no President’s Report
Due to numbers and the prospect of worsening weather there was no oral Secretary’s report. The accompanying slides would be put on the club website.
Mrs Sannachan introduced Alex Pringle, saying she had heard he was so knowledgeable about his city he is often referred to as Mr Glasgow. She looked forward to his talk “From a Tour Bus” – the development of tourism in Glasgow.
Mr Pringle began by saying that this would not be a lecture, more of a recollection with four main parts – How it all Began, How it Grew, What makes us Different and What is the Future.
Tourism in Glasgow developed alongside sightseeing and that “City Sightseeing” is now a franchise.
Mr Pringle had, until he retired in 2008, been operating buses since 1969 and sightseeing tours since 1986. From the start of the city tours his company had been able to “see off” the opposition.
When Michael Kelly was Lord Provost of the city it was considered that Glasgow was “down in the dumps.” In 1985 he launched the Glasgow’s Miles Better campaign. Coincidentally the Traffic Act of 1985 radically changed the whole bus industry.
The first city bus tours ran for six weeks and were organised by the SPT, duration one hour
Pringles Coaches began city tours every morning stopping at different places. It was soon apparent that coaches were not suitable for passengers with wheelchairs and also for passengers with luggage. Five hundred passengers were carried in the first season.
The Garden Festival in 1987 followed by City of Culture in 1990 put Glasgow on the map.
Mr Pringle did his homework checking out other city tours and in 1990 began the Hop On Hop Off service. This was the Culture Bus and over the years a variety of tours have been established including architectural and Mackintosh tours..
In 1992 Open Top tours were introduced and Mr Pringle was told he was crazy as no-one would want to sit on an open top bus in Glasgow! The philosophy was always to change with the development of the city.
One of the criteria was to identify the customers. At least twelve different groups were identified including (in no particular order) young people, senior citizens, overseas visitors, friends and family, conference delegates.
The two-day ticket was introduced and some passengers made ten to twelve journeys hence there is a mix of guides and multilingual tours. This means each tour is different and not subject to the same dialogue each time.
In 1994 the company was endorsed as Tourism Bus Company. Having taken over the a company owned by Citylink the company now operated from Buchanan Street Bus Station and the bus tours became very successful.
With the inception of cheap air fares by Ryanair and Easyjet foreign visitors began flooding in to the city which really forced the need for multilingual systems in the buses.
Company names changed and employee numbers rose from five to fifty. Good staff moral and participation in charity events helped raised a great deal of money for various charities.
The company also won many awards including Glasgow Chamber Tourism Award and Age Positive Awards for employing people over fifty and was one of the top one hundred companies in the country for “age positive.”
1999 saw the appearance of the “Big Red Buses” and “City Sightseeing” was now a franchise round the world and today operates in over 100 countries with Mr Pringle involved in training many of the staff. One of his old buses was shipped to San Francisco to do city tours.
Mr Pringle was involved in training many of the City Sightseeing staff world-wide. Nearer to home he sat on the Board at the College of Food Technology with one of his companies Scotguide presenting an award for the best tourism student.
In 2008 Mr Pringle decided to retire and, as his family were not of a mind to take over the business, City Sightseeing was sold to West Coast Motors based in Campbletown..
Looking to the future and Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2014 Mr Pringle sees Glasgow and City Sightseeing going from strength to strength.
Something here about cs developing …
Vote of Thanks
In proposing the vote of thanks Mrs Sannachan thanked Mr Pringle firstly for honouring his commitment to the club by coming out on such an evening. Now having heard his talk she was not surprised as having owned bus companies the weather would not hold him back! She thanked him for giving the history of his various companies and how they ran in parallel to the history of Glasgow. Helping to make Glasgow Miles Better.
The next directors meeting would be on 19th January and the next ordinary meeting on 12th speaker when the speaker would be Graeme Smith on the Alhambra Theatre.
Mrs Sannachan wished everyone, especially in view of the storm conditions, a safe journey home.
M Thom & J McNaefor Recording Secretary