Sunday, 19 August 2007

Part Three: Heriot Watt University-Edinburgh-Dunfermline-Lothalmond-Dunfermline-Edinburgh-Heriot Watt University


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After a good sleep, it was time for breakfast. The dining hall was quite busy, but a very pleasant surprise awaited in that we could pick and choose what we wanted (or as much as you could physically get on a plate!). When in Scotland - forget about cholesterol, so three pieces of fried bread, two bacon, two hash browns, two slices of square sausage an egg, toast and fresh bap - that would set me up for the day!

It was then time to get Lothian Buses service 25 into the city at 0858 on which was Dennis Trident / Plaxton President 635 (SK52 OGT). Unfortunately it showed all the signs of being yet another wet day.

We planned to take the train (actually cheaper than the Citylink coach) to Dunfermline, so went to Waverley station and purchased our tickets from the machine - a cheap day return at £4.80. Unfortunately, I only had a £20 note and all my change came in £1 coins.The train, 170461, departed on time at 0955 and we settled back for the journey over the Forth Bridge. It was also breaking new ground for me as, hitherto, I had never travelled over the Fife loop. There are two stations in Dunfermline, Town and St Margaret's, the latter being some distance from where we needed to catch the bus to the SVBM, so we opted for the former. Arrival was on time at 1029, and I made my way up the platform to photograph the train.

Someone on the train had worked out we were going to the SVBM and pointed us vaguely in the direction of the stop for the free bus (the Fire Station). Not particularly far, but meant walking up some rather steep hills. I'm not fond of walking up these (I'm built for comfort, not speed), so at several stages Graham found himself having to wait for me to catch up! Once in town there was some confusion as to where we needed to be - to save walking round I asked a friendly taxi driver and he pointed us in the right direction. We arrived having just missed Leyland Leopard / Alexander T bodied, RMS 400W, wearing Midland Bluebird livery.

As Graham went to find a cash point, I travelled up to the museum before him. Thankfully the rain had stopped and there was signs of the weather clearing a little. The 1100 free service turned out to be former Southdown Leyland Tiger, GUF 727, ironically owned by someone in Market Rasen in Lincolnshire!

This was packed, so I let it go and just waited a few minutes until WG 9180, a Leyland Titan TD7, in a very smart Alexander's blue livery, appeared.

The sunken gangway on the right of the upper deck was an interesting change as we departed at 1114, me having gained the upstairs front seat. A nice bus, but struggled up the hills even though it was quite lightly loaded.

Heading into Dunfermline was an AEC single decker, NWS 358, looking superb in Northern livery. I so wished that I'd waited as I particularly would have loved to travel on this (remember them from when I lived in Perth). Graham was the lucky enough to get a trip to the SVBM on it!

After arriving at Lathalmond, the location of the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum, I was in my element. This was my second visit there and for me, it was largely a day of nostalgia - one vehicle in particular, Leyland Royal Tiger BMS 222, brought the memories flooding back - and, was the very type of vehicle that first got me seriously interested in buses four decades ago when I lived in Perth! It was in the summer of 1967, one such example in the Alexander Midland fleet was employed on the service 39 to Muirton Toll House. The central entrance made it unusual from all the other buses, and as a kid it was great to be able to sit at the front next to the driver!

The other thing that interested me were the many liveries - when we moved up from Liverpool to Perth, my parents asked what colour I was hoping the buses to be. I replied "blue" which, to their amazement turned out to be true as Perth was in Alexander Midland territory!

It was the bright yellow and cream Northern vehicles that always captured my imagination then, going to exotic (!) locations such as Blairgowrie.

Another fond memory I have is of McLennan's vehicles which used to park opposite our house in Dunkeld Road, looking smart in their blue and white livery. The company was represented at the SVBM by preserved DGS 625, a Leyland Tiger with McLennan C39F body, new to the company in 1951.

Also present, although sadly not being used on the services, was my favourite coach, the Alexander M type. This also has connections to the LEYTR area as in the era the Scottish Bus Group provided services between London and Scotland via the A1, would have called at Grantham and Stamford.

Having missed out on a trip on NWS 358, I spotted Leyland Tiger Cub OSC 711, looking superb in its Fife red and cream livery, about to work a trip to Dunfermline. Dating from 1961, thus as old as I am, but unlike me, it managed to achieve some very good speeds. The restoration work on this is fantastic and the detail was fascinating - even down to the antimacassars with the Fife logo - although I suspect the Velcro by which they were attached was a bit of an anachronism! I also smiled at the notice on one of the sliding windows which read "Smokers are requested to sit to the rear of this point"!

Meeting up with Graham again later, we had a trip to Dunfermline and back on SCS 335M, an Alexander AY bodied Leyland Leopard, wearing the striking Western SMT black and white livery.

Indeed, the Y type body, once ubiquitous in Scotland, appeared in many liveries.

It was also good to see the Eastern Coach works represented by this Lodekka.

And also by this FLF, HGM 335E in Stagecoach livery.

One thing I was not expecting to see was an ex-East Yorkshire vehicle! AEC Bridgemaster WAT 652, which was the last to be built with the distinctive Beverley Bar domed roof.

Having walked around for several hours photographing each vehicle (some more than once), my feet were aching, so I made use of the internal bus service on which was Bristol MW / ECW coach, HDV 639E, wearing Bluebird livery - although was actually new to Western National in 1967.

The ground was rather waterlogged from the heavy rain of the previous day and unfortunately a fire engine and brand new Rapsons decker, SV07 CVA, had the indignity of having to be towed out of the mud!

After a great day, we returned on the last bus to Dunfermline, on which was Leyland Titan TD5, DSG 169, new in 1942, and wearing blue SMT livery.

Following close behind was Leyland Olympian SSA 5X in Northern Scottish livery.

Once back in Dunfermline, we opted to have a drink at a pub we visited previously on our first trip to the SVBM - very much of a "local" pub as it turned out, as it went rather quiet briefly when the inmates heard our English accents. There was no other pub available, so we made our way back to the station to catch the train back to Edinburgh at 1827. This was a longer trip back as it was actually heading in the opposite direction on the circuit - no matter, as it meant we could cover previously untravelled metals on the "Fife Loop" and the next southbound train with a shorter journey would have got us back later. Bizarrely, the train which turned up was 170478, which was originally with Hull Trains and still retained that company's moquette on the seats.

It took 93 minutes to get back to Edinburgh, and our second crossing over the Forth Railway bridge, with an excellent view of the nearby Forth Road Bridge.

At Edinburgh it was time for another pub visit. Exploring the back streets we found a decent looking establishment where Graham had a pint of Old Peculiar (he decided he wasn't keen on it after drinking half a pint!) and I had some pint of an obscure German lager. Unfortunately, the process of ordering took longer than the drinking!

Graham was getting hungry, but my stomach had been playing up for the past two days, so we ended up (as a last resort, I emphasise) at McDonalds - at least it was cheap! By way of a contrast, I suggested we have a drink at the former railway hotel over the road. The Caledonian Hotel, once adjoined Princes Street Station, the Caledonian Railway's station in Edinburgh (which closed in 1965) as opposed to the present Waverley which was owned by the North British Railway. The hotel is now owned part of the Hilton group - and we made our way through the revolving doors to the Caley Bar which was well stocked with many brands of whiskey. Sadly, it has been extensively modernised and retains very little of the authentic look of the railway hotel, although several watercolours on the walls were of railway subjects. Not surprising was the prices, £3.75 for my pint of Tennants and over £5 for Graham's vodka and coke! That being said, complimentary snacks were provided and we had another round - well you only live once! Quite what the other clientèle thought of us, I really didn't care. My boots and trousers were somewhat muddy from the SVBM and I had a Tesco carrier bag for my spare batteries!

Time then to return to the hotel, at 2223, again on Lothian buses 635! Again a slow journey back, and arrival just after the bar shut at Heriot Watt Oh well, I needed an early night anyway as I had a long journey ahead of me!


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