Kudos to volunteers preserving Edinburgh's past, one bus at a time

Tales of a plumber's 'pole', ripped tights, skint knees and sore bums were just some of the memories readers shared when last week's column - Ding! Ding! 'Hold very tight now!' The day I ditched a vintage Edinburgh bus - went online.

1972 Leyland Atlantean WFS 300 K, cover star of Heritage: Edinburgh's Preserved Buses
1972 Leyland Atlantean WFS 300 K, cover star of Heritage: Edinburgh's Preserved Buses

Those ripped tights, skint knees and sore bums were the result of misjudging the hop on or jump off the back platform of the Capital's old open-back-door buses while they were still moving. Likewise, readers recalled family members and a few of the larger than life characters who kept the Corpie buses running, including everyone's favourite clippie 'Wee Annie' of Annfield, Newhaven, and Jackie Downie, who was a 'great conductor helping with the kids buggies' on the No 16 route.

As for the plumber's pole, James Rutherford wrote, 'When I see these old buses I always remember my dad telling me of his journey on the bus going up The Mound. Standing, holding the chrome upright handrail, he turned to the man sitting and said that the handrail was not very stable and shoogling about. To his embarrassment the man, a plumber, stood up at the next stop taking his chrome plated pipe with him.'

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​Other memories of the old Leyland Titan PD2/20s included ​one from ​Joe Curry​ who remembered that his ​conductress ​Georgina Thompson had ​become the city's first female bus driver, and ​another from Hugh Hoffman​ who knew exactly where he was at 9pm one fateful day in Nov​ember,​ 1963: 'I got on a ​N​o 23 up Dundas St​reet​. The conductress told us news had just come through of the shooting of John F Kennedy.'

​Leslie Thomson​, meanwhile, who was knocked down by a Titan ​at the age of five, reflected that having been ‘hit on the back of the head with​ a bus’, he's pretty sure the city crest is still imprinted on ​his​ skull.One of those who go​t​ in touch after reading ​about the day I ditched NSF 757 ​was Keith McGillivray, author of​ Heritage: Edinburgh's Preserved Buses, a glossy book ​packed with ​great images and the ​fascinating ​stories ​behind all of Edinburgh's 35-strong fleet of preserved buses. Another ​16​ are known to be awaiting preservation​ and I was delighted to discover ​757, the star​ of​ last week's column, is one of them.​While it's good to learn it survives, parked up at the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust garage, the last picture I could find of it online​ was​ taken in 2012​ and showed it looking very forlorn and in need of ​a lot of TLC​ and much investment. A call to a local transport historian friend confirmed what I ​suspected​, in storage awaiting preservation​ (it was on sale for £1,500 at one point)​ 757 ​is ​no longer running ​after engine and body parts ​were ​salvaged to complete other restoration projects undertaken by an army of volunteers intent on preserving Edinburgh’s past, one bus at a time.Without them, these evocative and important pieces of the Capital’s history would have already disappeared. Heritage: Edinburgh's Preserved Buses by Keith L McGillivray, £16, is available by emailing [email protected]

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