Transport (2)




During the 1890s there were proposals to build a rail link between Rothienorman and Tillynaught through Aberchirder. A hotel was even planned on South Street opposite New Marnoch Church.  However the project – probably wisely from the economic point of view! – was blocked by Frendraught Estate.


The proprietor of the Fife Hotel in The Square, bought land next to these houses on
South Street with a view to building a Station Hotel when the railway came to Foggie.


Site for a Station Hotel (left of picture)

A much more sensible idea came to fruition in 1905 when the Great North of Scotland Railway company set up a motor bus service between Aberchirder and Huntly, having bought out William McMillan’s horse-drawn omnibus service.  The railway bus garage was built at 46 Main Street on the site of a number of derelict houses bought from Alexander McHardy who, a year later, built the pavilion for the Bowling Club.  The first bus, an 18-seater Milnes-Daimler with bodywork built at Inverurie Loco Works, ran on 1 May 1905.

Banffshire Journal Notice

Advert showing William Chalmers taking advantage of his horse-drawn transport business being next door to the new GNSR motor bus garage!

Banffshire Journal Advertisement
Advert for the 1905 sale of McMillan’s bussing and hiring plant, including 14 horses, 29 vehicles and assorted equipment. This was the result of the deal between McMillan and GNSR to end his horse bus service to Huntly. However he continued in business, running on other routes.
Click image for larger view

Four Wheels and Four Legs
A wonderfully evocative photograph by Wm Auchinachie Jr showing the old and new modes of transport in Main Street c1906.
(Picture courtesy of Evelyn Chalmers)

GNSR Buses
Aberchirder & Huntly Motor Omnibuses  Two GNSR buses in the Square just after the service began in 1905.
George Rennie (grandfather of grocer Willum Rennie) is standing at the front of the nearer bus.
(Picture courtesy of Evelyn Chalmers)

Railway Bus Passing South Lodge of Auchintoul
GNSR bus SA 151 passing the south lodge at Bridge of Auchintoul.
Note the two men sitting on top with the luggage, and the children sitting on the grass verge.
(Picture courtesy of Evelyn Chalmers)

GNSR Buses in The Square
Another view of buses in the Square.  In the foreground is one of four 16/18 hp Milnes-Daimlers bought in 1904 for £800 each.  In the background is SA 151, built the following year on a 20/24 hp chassis.
(Picture courtesy of Bob Peden)


Journeys cannot have been very comfortable, given that the wheels had solid tyres and the road surfaces were bumpy. Indeed the buses soon became known locally as Foggie Dirders (boneshakers).  The service offered two buses a day (three on Saturdays), connecting with trains at Huntly.


However, in the years before World War One McMillan still ran horse-drawn passenger services to Turriff and Cornhill, while the Banff-Aberchirder route had a mail coach operated by Andrew Kindness of Banff and a carter service run by Joseph Morrison.


Timetable. Newspaper notices for horse drawn goods, mail and passenger services between Banff and Aberchirder, 1905.


Steam traction engines were quite common, as motor lorries were still at an early stage of development.  Those which were used to drive threshing mills, could also be seen on the roads travelling from farm to farm and pulling heavy loads such as grain and stones.  The Town Council  minutes of the time have frequent references to the damage these heavy vehicles did to the streets and lanes.  What is now McLaren's Garage was the base for William McKay's steam engine.

Steam Traction Engine
Steam traction engine at work.
(Picture courtesy of Bruce Kean)

McLaren's Garage
McLaren’s Garage in School Lane 2006.

Local Tradesmen on Parade
(Picture courtesy of Hilda Esslemont)

A photo taken at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on 22 June 1897 by Newton of Cullen.  One of the events was a procession and here a steam traction engine is pulling carts containing tradesmen and their equipment across the Square with Morrison the Baker’s shop in the background.  The Jubilee Fountain, donated by Provost Auchinachie and inaugurated during the afternoon by his daughter, is on the right of the picture.

Lady Cyclist
Cycling was also a popular means of transport at this time and Aberchirder, like most towns, had a thriving Cycling Club.  The lady in the picture is Agnes Urquhart Webster, whose daughter was Annie Cockburn, mother of James Hay.
(Picture courtesy of Janet Cockburn)

As transport developed, blacksmiths were never short of business and could turn their hands to repairing new as well as old vehicles.

Stevenson's Smiddy
A group at Stevenson’s Smiddy beside the Back Spoot well in School Lane, around 1907: Jimmy Milne (shoeing the horse), unidentified lady (presumably Mrs Stevenson) and child, Bob Stevenson and Dod Hosie.
(Picture courtesy of Evelyn Chalmers)


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.

Hay's First Bus
Hay's first bus 1926.  The chassis was driven up from Glasgow.
The body was built in Whitehills.
(Picture courtesy of David Hay)
Alex Hay with His First Bus
Alex Hay with three young ladies on his first bus.
On the left is Catherine Davidson - later to marry Alex.
(Picture courtesy of David Hay)
Catherine Davidson Later to Become Mrs Hay
Group in Foggie Square
A group photograph - date unknown.
2nd right is Alex Hay and 3rd left Catherine Davidson.
(Picture courtesy of David Hay)


Pictured left is Catherine Davidson who taught at the Episcopal School in Aberchirder from 1928 until she married Alexander Hay in 1943.  She is standing in front of Hay's first bus.
(Picture courtesy of David Hay)

Albion Bus
An Albion after a new paint job.
(Picture courtesy of David Hay)
Bedford Bus
A Bedford bus with a wartime utility body pictured in Banff.
Possibly early 1940s.
(Picture courtesy of David Hay)
Leyland Bus
After 1948, Alex Hay purchased second hand buses and
this Leyland was one of them.
(Picture courtesy of David Hay)
Bus Timetable
 Click image for detailed extracts and adverts
Rail & Road Timetable
Click image for detailed Rail & Road Timetables


After World War One the private motor car began to become more popular, but only among relatively wealthy people.  MacLennan’s garage in Main Street and McKay’s garage in School Lane were in operation, but from 1921 onwards, petrol pumps also appeared along pavements outside shops and hotels.  Many of these remained well into the 1960s.


Car at Rear of 88 Main Street
A couple – presumably Dod and Belle Hosie – in their car at
the rear of 88 Main Street.
(Picture Courtesy of Hector Hosie)


Shop and Petrol Pump
 Kenny MacLennan’s shop at 56-58 Main Street, with Shell petrol pump. The two horses are (left) Silver Chimes with Hughie Greig and Kenny MacLennan’s Nuffield, with Sandy Robb.  Dod Shand Snr is standing at the pump and his son Charlie is between the horses.
(Picture Courtesy of Lily MacLennan)

Petrol Pump on Main Street
View down Main Street from the Square around 1960, with a petrol pump outside what was then the
Anderson of Mossat grocer’s shop.

(Picture Courtesy of Bob Peden)

Early Motor Cars

Ford Lorry

Ford Car

Three of the earliest motor cars (two-seaters) in Aberchirder. SE6 was the first, and the small boy in it is Donald McKay, presumably the son of engineer William McKay who ran his business at 127 Main Street.  All three cars show examples of the earliest registration numbers (which began to be issued in 1903) – SE for Banffshire, SA for Aberdeenshire and SX for West Lothian.      (Picture Courtesy of Phyllis Wright)

R D Stevenson and his son Waldie with their first Ford lorry in the 1920s.
 (Picture Courtesy of Sandy Stevenson)
R D Stevenson, the blacksmith, with his Ford car at Yonder Bognie in the 1920s.
(Picture Courtesy of Sandy Stevenson)

Motor cycles provided a cheaper alternative to cars.

Motor Cycle
Dod Hosie (?) on a motor bike in the 1930s.
(Picture Courtesy of Hector Hosie)
Motor Cycle
Dod Hosie (?) with a young Hector behind, at 88 Main Street in the 1930s.
(Picture Courtesy of Hector Hosie)

However, although horse transport was under threat from motor transport, most people in country areas still used traditional ways of getting about.
Travelling to picnics by horse and cart was an experience enjoyed by children for whom leaving the village was quite an unusual event.

Going to a Picnic
Geordie Donald with his horse and cart – normally used for transporting goods, manure and the contents of household ashpits! - taking passengers to a picnic at Marnoch in the 1930s.
(Picture Courtesy of Sandy Stevenson)
Going to Sunday School Picnic
Members of the Taylor family of Cleanhill on their way to a Sunday School picnic in 1936.
(Picture Courtesy of Gladys Christie)


Streets were still unsurfaced and occasionally repaired by the burgh workman using hardcore made from stone from Causewayend quarry.
Travellers on main roads also had to put up with very rough surfaces.

Unsurfaced Street
The top of Main Street looking east, probably in the 1920s, showing how primitive the road and pavements were.
(Picture Courtesy of Pat Smith)

Unsurfaced Main Road with Horse & Cart
This postcard from the mid-1920s shows how rough the road surface was at that time, when the road followed the original turnpike line, which was straightened in the 1960s.
(Picture Courtesy of Bob Peden)

Causewayend Quarry
Causewayend Quarry, with two men working bottom left just above the pile of loose rocks and stones.
From a postcard by George Geddes, Aberchirder, postmarked 1919.
(Picture Courtesy of Pat Smith)



Copyright © 2002 – ADCA Aberchirder, North East Scotland.