Central SMT

Special Features Focus on : Older Leylands

Contributed by Douglas G MacDonald, December 2003

Two for T

Codes used by Central SMT to classify their various vehicle types remained straightforward and consistent over the decades of the company’s existence. Most letters were used only once, but a few were applied on more than one occasion, some years apart. One such class to undergo a repeat performance in both letter and the numerical order following it was T. For many Central enthusiasts, this classification refers to the large number of Alexander Y and T-type bodied Leyland Leopard single-deck vehicles, bought by the company in large numbers from the 1960s right through to the 1980s. However, the T records go way back, as far as Central’s first year of incorporation, 1932.

In the early decades, the vehicle type covered by T was Leyland TS and PS single-deck models. Numerically, I can’t find any trace of T1 to T3, but T4 to T8 came second-hand with the take-over of J W Torrance of Hamilton. These were TS3s, with Leyland bodywork, all new in 1931. The company’s first intake of new Ts was the 1932 batch of 50 TS4s, all with Pickering B32R bodywork, entering the fleet as T9–58. To be completely accurate, T9-48 were actually ordered when the company was still Glasgow General Omnibus (GOC), and the remaining 10 in the batch had been commissioned by Stewart & MacDonald of Carluke, before they too were swallowed up by the new company. These vehicles gave between 15 (T27) and 20 (T58) years service. Remarkably, T9 was among the last withdrawn in 1952, and T27 was an early casualty only because it was burned out and had to be scrapped. The others all found new owners, many via Tiger, the Salsburgh dealer. The oldest survivors appear to have been T40, which finished its days with Chapman (a Gateshead showman) and wasn’t withdrawn until 1962, and T57, which was with Portobello fairground operator Pinder until 1961.

The next arrivals were T59-61 in 1935, but Wishaw bodybuilder Pickering lost out, as these were all-Leyland affairs, TS7s. The following year saw Alexander bodies appearing on a further 5 new similar models (T65-70), while the gap in the sequence, T62-64, was filled by 3 second-hand buys from Blackpool operator Leamington Tours, all with Burlingham C32C bodywork. 1936 saw further not-new additions with the takeover of Clydebank Motors, which yielded CSMT with a mixed 6 of TS1s, TS6, and TS7s (T71-76). The fleet class passed the century mark in 1937, with the arrival of new vehicles T77-116, all TS7 models with 32-seat rear-entrance bus bodies by Leyland.

Before World War II, Central added a further 28 between 1938 and ’39, these being numbered T117–144, all TS8 models with bodywork by Alexander, although T134-144 were coach-seated. To underline the point of these vehicles’ longevity, T137 didn’t leave service until 1956, and was recorded with Wright, a Blantyre builder, as late as 1960!

After the cessation of hostilities, T145-148 were delivered in 1948, again with Alexander front-entrance coach bodies on Leyland PS1 chassis. However, it was the final intake in 1949 which perhaps raised eyebrows in omnibus operators’ circles. With front and even centre-door entry being de rigeur on single-decks for most companies, Central bought T149-162, again PS1 models with Alexander shells, but they were coach-seated with rear entrances and all used on stage-carriage work as much as private hire use. Mind you, they were to repeat this practice with some of the Guy Arab (K-class) orders a  few years later (see previous Prize Guys feature).

T149-162 all lasted until 1964 with Central SMT. As the song says : ‘the record shows they took the blows.’ No, make that blowtorches, as many were scrapped, but a few saw extended lives, like T149 going to Loudon (contractor), and T161 being transformed by the company into service lorry S27 on trade-plate 192GM in 1965.

Chronologically, there was actually a minor crossover between the original T-class and the new version. T1-6 entered service in 1961, Central’s 6 little Leopard L2s (later renumbered TS1-6), followed by the first of the Y-types in 1964 (T7-12).

From the 1932 intake of Leyland TS4s, T28 is lined up with two of her sisters on Glasgow's Cathedral Street, above Queen Street Station, ready to set out on the trunk route to Shotts via Uddingston.

Acquired second-hand in 1936 from Leamington Tours of Blackpool, FV5772 became T63 in the Central fleet, and carried a C32C body by Burlingham. A remarkable twenty years later, this TS7 was withdrawn and sold to AMCC, a London dealer. This view suggests the vehicle, still in CSMT livery with decals painted out, has either been sold on to a contractor or is in AMCC's yard. There's no confirmation of this, unless someone can tell us otherwise!

A TS7 new in 1937, T106 is captured laying over in Glasgow before heading for Ashgill, just south of Larkhall in Lanarkshire. The livery and condition hint that it may be late in this Leyland's life - T106 wasn't withdrawn until 1956.

Alongside another of her withdrawn sisters, T126 still carries Central colours and a front bulkhead fleet plate, and is pictured at the same location as T63. A Leyland TS8 of 1938 vintage, T126 also passed to AMCC after withdrawal in 1956.

Parked up at Western SMT's Nursery Avenue HQ in Kilmarnock, T146 is on a private hire. This post-war PS1 with 35-seat Alexander body gave 14 years service, before being converted to Central's service vehicle S23, with trade plate 178GM.

The setting appears to be the environs of Hampden Park, Glasgow for T151, one of the final batch of PS1s from 1949.

From the same batch, T152 pulls away from Hamilton "bottom" Cross and climbs Quarry Street on local service 8 to Fairhill. After route restructuring, the No 8 became part of the North Motherwell - Uddingston/Burnhead quartet of services (4,5,7,8). To the left of the vehicle cab in this 1950s shot are Price's the Baker (purveyor of the finest rock cakes in the West of Scotland) and - just in view - Birrell the confectioner, who were taken over by RS McColl in the following decade.

Life after Central ... new in 1949, T160 was a Leyland PS1 which was sold via Tiger the dealer to R J MacLeod (contractor) of Glasgow in 1964. With its CSMT plate just visible, its new owners have retained the cream relief.