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  June 2015
The other Scot Nats

  The Scot Nats have been in the news headlines recently because of the General Election.   However as any devoted Scottish bus fan knows there are other equally famous Scottish Nationals - namely the ones bought principally by the Scottish Bus Group (SBG) in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Having has its toes burned by the standard National Bus Company (NBC) double-decker - the Bristol VRT, the SBG perhaps surprisingly opted to buy the standard NBC single-decker - the Leyland National.  Meantime other independent operators such as AA Buses and McGills regularly placed small numbers into service, and three of the four local authorities had them.  The SBG Nationals were dispersed after bus deregulation in 1986, many initially going to Kelvin.   Subsequently Western became the largest operator of the type, even though they never ordered any new.

During the early 1990's Nationals were extensively used by smaller operators to compete with former SBG companies.  Many of the SBG examples ended their days in Stagecoach stripes with some even heading south of the border.
  Click to enlarge photos
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    • Strathtay inherited Nationals from Northern in Dundee and Midland in Perth such as SN2 (DMS21V) seen in its home town on a murky day in December 1985.
    • Fife 333 (YSX933W) on a town service in St Andrews in April 1988
    • Western AL777 (MDS859V) at Stranraer Academy in September 1994.   This was one of a batch of 20 National 2's that had been bought from Kelvin in 1988 to replace Seddon Y-Types.   Western went on to buy a further 29 National 1's from Kelvin the following year as part of the Routemaster replacement program.  At that point they became the largest operator of Nationals in Scotland even though they had never bought any new.
    • Northern NPN12 (MSO12W) in Banff in July 1985.
    • A filthy N2 (EGB79T) from Central in Anderston X bus station in Glasgow in March 1979.  The first Eastern and Central National 1's were delivered in this basic livery with a single cream band.   All subsequent National deliveries to the SBG had more cream (such as Midland's MPN10 - next shot)
    • Midland's batch of Leyland National 1's were a mix of standard types and B-types such as MPN10 (OLS810T) seen on a Stirling local service in April 1979.   All of Midland's National 1's were originally allocated to adjacent Bannockburn and Stirling depots.
    • Highland took two batches of National 2's as represented by N11 (AST153W) in Inverness bus station in May 1985.
    • On formation in 1985 Kelvin received Nationals from Midland and former Eastern ones at Baillieston.   After deregulation in the following year they started assembling a large fleet of second hand examples from other SBG fleets.   One such example was N55 (AST159W), a former Highland vehicle, seen leaving Glasgow's Buchanan Bus station on service to Cumbernauld in July 1986.
    • Eastern N585 (RFS585V) in Buchanan Bus Station when new in July 1980.
    • All of Eastern's National 1's started life in Airdrie but several had migrated to the borders by the time that Lowland was established in 1985.   Lowland's 163 (GSX863T) is seen in Galashiels bus station in December 1987.
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    • After deregulation, several operators in the West of Scotland made a concerted challenge to the former SBG companies.  To visit Greenock was to step into the Wild West - small operators by the dozen with minibuses having a crack at Clydeside.   Other operators such as Inverclyde Transport preferred Nationals, even if according to the traffic commissioner they were somewhat smokey.   Their KBU898P, a former Greater Manchester vehicle, is seen at Port Glasgow in March 1990.   They eventually sold out to Clydeside and a handful of their Nationals made it into Clydeside livery.
    • John Morrow caused concern for Kelvin around Clydebank and in the Vale of Leven until they sold out to them.   They too had a sizeable fleet of Nationals such as LPB188P, a former Green Line example, seen speeding down Great Western Rd on a route from Glasgow to Drumchapel in January 1991.
    • On the East side of Glasgow, Green of Kirkintilloch established a network of routes that mirrored those of Kelvin.   Their WPT716R, a former United Automobiles vehicle, is seen at Kirkintilloch Cross heading for Glasgow from Campsie Glen in January 1990.   Not surprisingly they also sold out to Kelvin.
    • Some SBG Nationals found new homes south of border such as SNS823W of Sheaf Line, a former Central vehicle, seen in Sheffield in July 1992.
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    • One of the earliest adopters of Nationals in Scotland was AA Buses of Ayr.   Their smart green and cream livery could be seen adorning Nationals since 1972, but C112GSJ seen here in Ayr bus station in May 1986, was one of the last ever delivered.   AA continued to operate the successor to the National, the Leyland Lynx.
    • McGill were another independent operator who favoured the National.  They regularly bought pairs of Nationals, such as UGE388W, seen in an unusually sunny Paisley in June 1983.   They operated on Paisley locals and an express to Glasgow until the company sold out to Clydeside.
    • In the late 1980's Stagecoach had established itself as one of the major players in the UK bus market.   However they did not operate routes in their home town of Perth.   To see off the incumbent namely Strathtay they established Perth Panther and drafted in Nationals to compete on local services, such as GFX976N seen in Perth in December 1989.   The ploy worked and Strathtay soon abandoned Perth.   The irony is that Stagecoach eventually bought Strathtay.
    • Many Nationals, particularly from Fife, were repainted into corporate stripes.   Their 321 (RSG821V) is seen arriving in Dunfermline bus station in December 1991 on the 19 from Ballingry.  This batch had been allocated to Cowdenbeath from new to operate this route.
    • Stagecoach Ribble 398 (SNS822W) in Lancaster bus station in December 1992.   This was a former SBG vehicle that had  migrated south in the Stagecoach empire.   It was being used in Lancaster as the dust settled after the bruising battle that had seen Lancaster City Transport go under.
    • Greater Glasgow PTE had a fleet of 20 National 1's such as LN8 (GGE163T) seen at Parkhead depot in July 1983.    These vehicles were notoriously difficult to see as they were used on routes that didn't serve the city centre, until in the twilight of their career they appeared on the inter-station service.   Many of this batch continued in service with Southend Transport but  this example went to Green of Kirkintilloch.
    • Grampian also bought 20 National 1's such as 75 (KSO75P) seen in Aberdeen in July 1982.   These were dual-door versions,  unusual for Scotland.
    • Kelvin and Central were merged in 1990 to form the originally named Kelvin Central Buses (or KCB or <insert other name where appropriate>).  Although there had been an exodus of Nationals to Western, KCB still had some original specimens such as 1130 (DMS27V) which had started life at Midland's Stepps depot and was still there 10 years later in December 1990.
    • Lothian had several small batches of dual-door National 2's.   Their 143 (B143KSF) is seen in Edinburgh in December 1985.



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