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The Rise of Bus Transport


The Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR) – including its road services – was taken over by the London & North East Railway (LNER) in 1923. In 1930, LNER sold off its bus services to Alexander’s Bluebird, which took over the garage in Aberchirder. Bluebird continued the new services to Banff via Alvah and Cornhill which LNER had introduced in 1928 and 1929.
Meanwhile, local bus operators began to flourish. The main player in Aberchirder was Alexander Hay (always known as ‘Bussie Hay’), who in May 1926, bought the then Foggie bus service – consisting of a covered-in lorry with seats – from a Mr Chalmers for £25. Hay was a horseman on a farm in the King Edward area and saw the rapidly increasing use of mechanisation and the subsequent loss of jobs. He had a job fixed up in Canada and was possibly going to emigrate when the opportunity to buy the bus business arose.
By August 1926 he had his first proper bus, a 14-seater Chevrolet. The chassis was driven up from Glasgow and the body built at Whitehills. The middle picture shows the bus with three female admirers. Catherine Davidson, on the left, also features in the righthand picture, standing in front of the bus. She taught at the Episcopal School in Aberchirder from 1928 until she married Alex in 1943.
(All pictures courtesy of David Hay)

Alex Hay gradually expanded his fleet of buses, before and after World War Two. These examples show (l to r): an Albion bus after a new paint job; a Bedford with a wartime utility body, pictured in Banff, possibly early 1940s; and a second-hand Leyland.

After World War Two, the transport system resumed more or less as before 1939. Although Alex Hay had moved to Elgin in July 1938 when he bought over Hendry MacDonald’s two buses at the Palace Garage, Hay’s buses continued to operate from Aberchirder to Banff, Turriff, Huntly and Keith into the 1950s.
At that time Alexanders also had a bus depot at 122 Main St (the former McMillan premises) till they moved all their buses to Macduff around 1950.
In the lefthand picture below, a Hay’s bus is heading from Banff towards Blacklaw and Aberchirder. The photoraph was taken in early 1947, during the worst snow on record all over Britain. (Picture courtesy of Harry Thomson)
The other shows Bill Pirie with his Bluebird bus in Aberchirder, around 1950. (Picture courtesy of S Pirie)