Central SMT

Moving On

As mentioned elsewhere, Central was notoriously fussy when it came to deciding on the suitability (or otherwise) of buses for its needs. Many types had a short life span in the fleet and were disposed of prematurely. These vehicles were eagerly snapped up by other operators and went on to give good service in their new lives.

This page looks at a representative sample of ex-Central vehicles giving further service elsewhere.

Eastern Scottish

There have been several examples of Central SMT buses being transferred to Eastern Scottish for further service. The following spring readily to mind :-

  • In 1977, when Eastern experienced a vehicle shortage that reached crisis proportions, some of Central's ageing Bristol FSF Lodekkas were sold to the Edinburgh-based company in an attempt to alleviate the situation. They were an unusual sight in the Eastern Scottish fleet, especially as the interior decor was so strongly red-based.
  • Some of the 1971 ECW-bodied Daimler Fleetlines went to Eastern Scottish in exchange for Alexander AYS-bodied Leopards. The Central Fleetlines had a slightly higher capacity than native Eastern Scottish examples at the cost of poorer provision for luggage.
  • Central's surviving Mark I Ailsas (AH2-10) were sold to Eastern Scottish in 1988, to assist Eastern's deregulation efforts in Edinburgh. Similar examples were also obtained from Western SMT.
AH10 is seen in St Andrew Square Bus Station, Edinburgh, bearing a striking advert for Edinburgh Zoo.Eastern Scottish AA441A - formerly Central SMT B141 - turns into St Andrew Square Bus Station, Edinburgh.L247,  with a Leyland body, saw further service with Eastern Scottish at Bathgate.


From the days of the earliest Lodekka LDs through to Tigers in Stagecoach stripes, the Fife fleet regularly provided the opportunity for further service to many a Central SMT bus.

Central's Lowlanders were quickly dsposed of. A1 went to Alexander (Fife).Former Lodekka LD B11 looks very smart in another version of red and cream, that of Alexander (Fife).Former LT6 was captured here at St Andrew Sq Bus Station, Edinburgh in August 1994.

Western & Clydeside

A number of Central SMT buses eventually found their way to Western SMT and its 1985 offshoot, Clydeside Scottish. Interestingly, the Ayrshire-bound contingent included a number of Leyland Nationals, a type resisted by Western while other SBG companies were taking them in respectable numbers.

D5, an Alexander-bodied Dennis Dominator, is seen with its third SBG subsidiary, Clydeside Scottish. It spent a few weeks with Eastern Scottish at Livingston, where its thirsty Rolls Royce engine proved unpopular.N16 and N52 eventually passed to Western Scottish, a company that had shunned the National when they were being bought new by SBG subsidiaries.T333 later joined Clydeside 2000. In this superb shot, she is pictured at Govan Bus Station, Glasgow in September 1993.

Other SBG

AC3 is seen in service with Highland in Oban, in September 1971. Highland's poppy red and peacock blue livery always looked magnificent and AC3's looks have arguably also been improved by the addition of standard destination equipment.T10 was sold to Alexander's (Northern) in May 1976 and became its NPE41, based at Aberdeen.

This shot of D2 in Peebles provides a colourful splash against a leaden sky.

The Great NBC Swap

In 1973 one of the strangest phenomena in the history of UK bus fleets took place. As has been well documented, the Scottish Bus Group as a whole decided that it was not at all enamoured with its relatively new Bristol VRT double-deckers. Although the writing was clearly on the wall as far as the move towards one man operation was concerned, the SBG arranged to swap its VRTs with older National Bus Company Bristol FLFs on a one-for-one basis. The FLFs, while undoubtedly excellent vehicles, were of course only suitable for crew operation and would have relatively short lives north of the border.

Like many of its sisters, BN366 went to Eastern Counties. It is seen here as VR322, in the company of native VR212.Uniquely for a Central VRT, BN368 passed to Southern Vectis. Its new Isle of Wight haunts could hardly be in greater contrast to its original Lanarkshire home.BN370 was one of many to pass to Eastern Counties.


As has been well documented elsewhere, the co-founder and chairman of Stagecoach, Brian Souter, worked as a conductor for Central SMT during his student years. It came as no real surprise, then, when he turned to ex-Central BL class Lodekkas during his company's very early years. These worked mainly on local services around Perth, but the odd appearance on longer-distance workings was not unheard of!

Former BL334 is parked at Perth Harbour. BL335 is still owned by Stagecoach, but has been restored and is kept at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum, Lathalmond. T188/93 are pictured in Stagecoach stripes at the company's graveyard site at Spittalfield.

First Borders

First group policy in the early years of the new millennium was to invest heavily in lucrative city routes and cascade buses from these to less busy rural services. A consequence of this policy was the appearance of ex-Central SMT Tigers in service with First in Central & Borders, the trading name at the time of Midland Bluebird Ltd, which then managed the former Midland and Lowland fleets.

LT18 at work in the Scottish Borders, on 12 Oct 2001.LT29 is seen here in First Edinburgh livery, enhanced by a First Group willow-leaf feature.The honour of being the last ex-Central Tiger in normal service in the Borders went to LT29, seen here in 'Barbie 2' livery following its return from a winter stay at Bannockburn.


In 1989, TE-type Tigers LT58-62 left the newly-formed Kelvin Central Buses for further service with Strathtay. However, these were not the only Central buses to find their way into the Strathtay fleet.

LT58, complete with new registration, looks impressive in Strathtay Coaches livery, heading out of Dundee for Montrose.LT59 seems to be facing a harsh new existence in the snow near Blairgowrie.Former D30 and D33 are seen in Montrose Depot.


A significant number of Central SMT Lodekkas ended their days with Bingorama, Bellshill, where they were used to transport substantial numbers of the female population of Lanarkshire to and from their favourite pastime.


B28 ended its days as a playbus in the Hamilton area.D45 is seen as an open topper with the London Pride sightseeing operation.Leyland Atlantean HR1, acquired with the business of Laurie, Hamilton, subsequently saw a return to private ownership with Graham, Paisley.
N14 entered service with Lothian in 2001, as a low-cost competitive weapon in the Edinburgh 'Bus War'.T368 later moved to White Ribbon, East Kilbride - very much still on its home ground.T417 is seen at Accrington Bus Station on 10 August 1990, in subsequent service with Blackburn Transport. Note the Kelvin route number blinds still in place!