Central SMT

Classic Destinations : Mystery Tour 2

This section explores some of the classic destinations that appeared on the front of Central SMT buses. The Mystery Tours are a trawl through some of the more unusual or quirky names that used to appear - you'll soon get the idea.

First stop on this tour, and although Central's operating area was right in the heart of one of Scotland's mining areas, Coalburn has nothing to do with the combustion of fossil fuels! 'Burn' is, of course, a Scottish word for 'stream'.


Merits inclusion as Central buses were not a common sight in the capital. Indeed, as mentioned elsewhere, links from the Central heartland to Edinburgh were provided by Eastern Scottish services 27 and 35. Yet Central SMT did have an irregular link with Edinburgh in the shape of the 190, Lanark - Edinburgh via Midcalder.

In later years, Central Scottish operated route X12 (East Kilbride - Edinburgh express), re-introducing Central buses to the Scottish capital.

A true Central SMT classic! In York, they'd think it was one of the city gates. In America, they'd be a touch warmer, imagining a drinking establishment designed to recreate the atmosphere of an earlier period. But this Era Bar is, well, a pub! Situated at 10-12 Carfin Road, Wishaw, it was a surprisingly common short-working and works journey destination.

How it caught on in this form is anybody's guess. Pubs are not unheard of as bus destinations, for example the wonderful London destination Chelsea (World's End). But quite how the good citizens of Coatbridge or Hamilton were meant to know where a bus marked Era Bar would take them to, I really don't know! On the other hand, once they realised that the end of the line was the pub, maybe they didn't care!


So, why include this? Well, it's just that everybody else, including Central itself from time to time, called this Glasgow terminus Buchanan Street Bus Station.

Almost in the Era Bar league, this one! Limetree normally appeared as a 'via' indication, but was available as a destination in its own right. Alex Strachan explains :-

limetree cottage actually exists, at the corner of Russell Street and Glasgow Road, Burnbank. Of the great 60-69 group of routes, via Blantyre, all but two ran past this cottage, alternatively identified simply as limetree. The distinction to be made was between those and the 62 and 63, which ran via High Blantyre Road.


A remarkable Central SMT destination, lying in Western SMT territory in Ayrshire, almost as far south as Prestwick on the Ayrshire coast. Muirkirk was so far away from the Central heartland that it maintained a small outstation here. The services provided were equally remarkable, with through links to Strathaven, Lanark, Shotts and West Calder (near Livingston, West Lothian!)

More obvious destinations, such as Glasgow, East Kilbride, Hamilton and Motherwell could be attained by changing at Strathaven. Through return fares were available from Glasgow. Not surprisingly, Muirkirk was the most southerly point on the Central network.


What you get from sliding down too many banisters?

Nope - just a little village near Larkhall.

No masonic or sectarian connotations, as far as I know - just a district of Motherwell.

Not the Latin Quarter or the French Quarter, just Quarter. This former mining village lies east of the Hamilton - Strathaven road, not far from Eddlewood. At one time served by Hamilton town services, in the 1970s the village was integrated into the Airdrie - Strathaven service group, with 100 added to the normal service number to indicate service to Quarter.

Again a remarkable Central destination, for a number of reasons. West Calder lies in West Lothian, well inside Eastern Scottish territory. The range of through services was notable - for example, Lanark, Muirkirk and Strathaven. And West Calder lies close to Livingston new town, an important destination for shopping and work. But Central services never made it into Livingston - things changed very slowly in pre-deregulation days!

Another Central incursion into West Lothian, serviced from the former depot at Harthill. Route 45 (Glasgow - Whitburn) complemented the parallel Eastern Scottish Glasgow - Edinburgh via Bellshill service, the latter diverting to serve Chapelhall. On closure of Harthill depot, the route became Eastern Scottish 36.


And finally ...

As with the Bathgate stop in Tour 1, I again have to admit that Blackpool would never have appeared in a destination indicator of the traditional Scottish double-deck design. But no sooner had the first Alexander T-type Leopards appeared in 1979, than Central launched a summer-only Airdrie - Blackpool express service.


Addendum : Shortly after writing the above, I came across the following!