Dumfries and Galloway Independents by David Devoy is a fascinating record of a remarkably colourful episode in the transport history of south- west Scotland. The author tells the story of what happened in his four page "Setting the Scene". He notes that Dumfries and Galloway is one of the thirty-two unitary council areas of Scotland and is located in the western part of the Southern Uplands. After describing the area in more detail he talks about the history of railways in the area, and the loss of the main line from Dumfries to Stranraer during the Beeching cuts. He then talks about the history of bus operations in the area, and the long-term presence of a few independent operators. Things changed in October 1986, when local bus services were de-regulated, allowing many new operators to enter the market, and opening up free competition on routes for the first time since the 1930s.
The main body of the book is a collection of very nice colour photographs, printed two to a page, of buses. Nearly all are taken from the front quarter of the vehicle (definitely the angle that shows off any bus and its livery to best effect) and a few show more than one vehicle. The story outlined in the introduction is a complex one, and the huge variety of types of bus and styles of livery on display in the photographs reflect this. Each photograph comes with an explanatory paragraph of text, and in many ways these extended captions are as valuable as the photographs themselves, for they tell you what you are looking at, when the photograph was taken, and a little about the company that was operating the bus at the time and the wider context.
Browsing through the book, this reader was struck by one question more than any other. Who selects the livery for a bus company? Presumably the person in charge, perhaps the person whose name appears on the side of the buses owned by that company. Some of the liveries shown in this book are highly attractive, showing off the buses at their best. Others are, well, just not: but that's not a comment on the value of this nice book, simply on the aesthetic sensibilities of one or two of the operators whose vehicles are illustrated.