Central SMT


Douglas G MacDonald

First published December 2009, The History Press, £14.99

ISBN 978-0-7524-5083-4

For his fourth book, regular CentralSMT.co.uk contributor Douglas G MacDonald has chosen what might be considered a somewhat offbeat theme. Most people, transport enthusiasts included, tend to assume that withdrawn buses have two possible fates: they either go into revenue-earning service with an another operator, or they fall victim to the scrap yard blowtorch. Not in Service maps out a Third Way - one that, if we think about it, we have almost certainly seen examples of, over the course of the years. From mobile playground to exhibition unit, Crime Buster to Gospel Express, the range of alternative uses for these veterans of the road is truly astonishing. Fancy popping into the Barber Bus for a quick trim? How about a Massage on the Move? It's all in here!

The book follows the author's established format of some scene-setting introductory text in each section, followed by a generous quantity of captioned photographs. Most of the photos are black-and white, but there is also a section of colour prints in the middle of the book. The volume is subtitled The Afterlives of Classic British Buses and it is believed to be the first book to cover this topic,  with many previously unpublished pictures.

The book covers the whole of the UK and, with its rather non-mainstream theme, definitely benefits from doing so. The direct Central SMT interest therefore has to be seen in this context: it's there, but it's not huge. Most notably, however, the coverage includes beautifully restored Bristol Lodekka LD B87, a former playbus and a vehicle which Douglas himself played a significant role in saving.

It's a bit late now to buy this book as a Christmas present, but just think: when the turkey has been eaten and the crackers pulled, and when The Bells are a fading memory, most people reading this will be faced with the prospect of January in Scotland. What better way to survive the most depressing month of the year than to give yourself a little treat? Trade in the psychedelic socks, dodgy jumper or boring boxers that Santa left and invest in a copy of Not in Service! Running to over 120 pages, it'll keep you occupied until some semblance of daylight returns.

Available from all good bookshops, Amazon.co.uk and direct from the publisher.

Go back to Central in Print