Glasgow and Dunbartonshire Independents by David Devoy is a lovely little book that sets out to record - and succeeds admirably in recording - a remarkably vibrant and (literally) colourful episode in the transport history of an important part of Scotland.
The author tells the story of what happened in his nine page introduction. In essence, local bus and tram services in Glasgow were traditionally operated by the corporation Transport Department, which had a monopoly within the city limits from 1930 onwards. This meant buses of the Scottish Bus Group and others could not pick up passengers once they passed the city boundary, although passengers could be set down. When local bus services in the UK were de-regulated in 1986, any credible operator was able to register and run a local bus service, and this is where the story told in this book begins. Large numbers of operators came and went at a tremendous pace, bringing a welcome splash of colour to the city and beyond. Company failures, take-overs and licence revocations resulted in only a few stronger companies serving the city. The aim of this book is to look at many of the casualties who had fallen by the wayside over a thirty-year period, many now almost forgotten.
The main body of the book is a collection of very nice colour photographs, printed two or three 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 good number show more than one vehicle. The story outlined in the introduction is a complex, not to say chaotic, 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.