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Ding ding! ‘Hold very tight now!’ It may be a while since that refrain was last heard on Edinburgh’s buses but there was very good reason for it as dramatic images from the Evening News archive reveal. They capture the aftermath of bus crashes in the city over the years and make fascinating snapshots of the Capital’s past. From the city centre to Meadowbank, Fountainbridge to Slateford and Granton they are glimpses of a city much changed.
In one, taken in November 1970, an Eastern Scottish No 79 has crashed through railings on the corner of Princes Street and Waverley Bridge. The accident, caught on film by Hamish Campbell, took place on the site that now houses an open air bar and wasn’t the first to happen on that spot. Thankfully the corner has been built up over the decades making such an occurrence impossible today – that and the fact it’s no longer possible to turn left onto Waverley Bridge.
There’s another Eastern Scottish vehicle, a coach this time involved in a brace of images captured by Stan Warburton in April 1975. On this occasion the coach collided with a Council bus just outside Meadowbank Stadium.
Flashing back four years, and the canopy of the Palais De Danse in Fountainbridge appears to have come off a bit better than the No 34 Corporation bus that decided to engage it in July 1971.
Five years earlier there was no clear winner between the Corporation No 33 and the SMT bus that collided in Slateford, although accompanying description of the photo noting that ‘the platform of the No 33 bus was badly crumpled’ seems a bit of an under-statement looking at the multiple images taken by Denis Straughan in February 1966.
Everything was happening in November 1974 when Bill Stout arrived to snap a Corporation No 9 that had run into a lamppost in Granton – he arrived as police and Corporation employees inspected the damage.
Finally, more recently, George Smith was quickly on the scene in May 1988 when an Eastern Scottish bus on its approach to the bus station rolled backwards, crashing through the railings of a York Place flat. Not the first time a vehicle has rolled down one of Edinburgh’s inclines and probably not the last.
Looking through the historic shots, Edinburgh public transport historian and writer Richard Walter, who has published numerous titles featuring his images of the Capital’s buses, the latest being Scotland’s Buses: The Road to Net Zero, currently a book of the month at Covent Garden’s prestigous London Transport Museum and published in hardback by [email protected], £22.50, reflects, “Whilst it’s distressing to remember these incidents, buses have gone through many design improvements since with safety high in design specifications.
“And we now have alternatives to traditional fuel powered buses with hybrid and electric vehicles starting to replace diesel ones. These carry their own risks but are kept monitored and, of course, human mistakes can never be totally eradicated, but serious accidents remain tiny when you add up the number of safe journeys every day.”