Central SMT

Double-Deckers : Ailsa

Central operated a total of just 30 Ailsas, bought in two batches in 1978 and 1979. The Scottish Bus Group had considerable influence over the development of this vehicle, in a double attempt both to rebel against Leyland's stranglehold of the market in the 1970s and to return to the relative simplicity of a front-engined design. The Ailsa combined this latter objective with the need to allow one man operation, by squeezing a small, turbocharged Volvo engine onto the front overhang, between the driver and the entrance. The engine's whistle was one of the characteristics of the type.

In SBG terms, the Ailsa was pioneered by Alexander's Fife and Midland companies. 1978 saw wider adoption of the type, as it made its debut with Central, Eastern Scottish and Western SMT. Outside the bus group, Tayside and Strathclyde both proved to be enthusiastic users of the type. All new SBG Ailsas were Alexander-bodied. Two characteristics of the design were the external peaked dome and internally, the fact that the forward-ascending staircase delivered passengers right to the front of the bus. They then had to walk past the front windows and round to the main seating area.

Although separated by only a year, Central's two batches of Ailsas were of two different types. The 1978 batch were Mark Is and the 1979 batch Mark IIs, with a noticeably higher driving position. The Mark IIs were initially delivered in a less than successful creamier version of the livery, but thankfully were later repainted into standard colours.

Having served at East Kilbride throughout their Central careers, the Mark Is eventually moved to Eastern Scottish to assist in that company's deregulation campaign in the capital. The Mark IIs were originally split between Wishaw (where they were regular performers on the lengthy 240 Glasgow - Lanark) and East Kilbride, but soon gravitated towards the latter. They passed naturally to Kelvin Central on formation of that company. On closure of East Kilbride, they were transferred to Cumbernauld and Airdrie, mainly for continued use on East Kilbride services.

The Ailsas were Central's only new highbridge buses and, being highbridge vehicles, they carried the type code AH.

AH1-10Chassis Volvo-Ailsa B55-10 Built 1978
Bodywork Alexander AV H44/35F
1 BGG251S3 BGG253S5 BGG255S7 BGG257S9 BGG259S
2 BGG252S4 BGG254S 6 BGG256S8 BGG258S10 BGG260S
AH11-30Chassis Volvo-Ailsa B55-10 MkIIBuilt 1979
Bodywork Alexander AV H44/35F
11 LHS735V15 LHS739V19 LHS743V23 LHS747V27 LHS751V
12 LHS736V16 LHS740V20 LHS744V24 LHS748V28 LHS752V
13 LHS737V17 LHS741V21 LHS745V25 LHS749V29 LHS753V
14 LHS738V18 LHS742V22 LHS746V26 LHS750V30 LHS754V

This excellent view of AH2 and AH11 illustrates perfectly the differences between the Mark I and Mark II Ailsas. Note also the passenger emerging from the top of the staircase right above the driver on AH11.

Double-deck Types