New book examines origins of Camelon bus builder and its golden era

A newly released book details the origins of a Camelon company and examines a golden era for bus-building.

By Jonathon Reilly
Thursday, 11th March 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2021, 4:52 pm

Author and transport fanatic Henry Conn looks at the final and probably most celebrated year of the Walter Alexander legacy in his latest work, Buses and Coaches of Walter Alexander and Sons 1960.

The book joins the dots between Alexanders’ Motor Services, founded by owner Walter Alexander (1879-1959) in 1913, and today’s Alexander Dennis Ltd.

The former started life as an ‘omnibus’ service and ran successfully for a decade before being registered as Walter Alexander and Sons in 1924, with son and namesake Walter (1902-1979) joining the business that year.

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A new book details the early days of what came to be Alexander Dennis Ltd, the Camelon-based coach builder. Picture: Michael Gillen.

The company continued a meteoric growth in the region over the next 36 years, stretching from Glasgow and Oban in the south-west to Aberdeen and Forres in the north-east, before finally breaking up into three regions the following year.

The first main date to note for mentions of the Falkirk area falls in 1948 when Walter Alexander was nationalised but its bus bodywork company remained in private hands.

The other came in 1995 at the time of Mayflower’s acquisition of Alexander.

When Mayflower went into administration, it was purchased by a Scottish consortium, a move which brought the combined name of Alexander Dennis into existence.

Join the author as he takes a pictorial walk through 1960 across 128 pages of pure bus and coach indulgence, paying homage to the end of an era for this iconic Scottish business – at one time the largest bus company in the country.

Mr Conn said: “Walter Alexander first started as a cycle shop in Camelon and in 1913 bought his first bus and set up bus services, excursions and tours.

“To meet the demand of rapidly growing bus services Alexander begins to build its own buses in Camelon.

“While Alexander’s bus services had been nationalised in 1948, the manufacturing interest remained in private hands.

“This opened the company up to new customers, and a boom in orders in the second half of the 1950s lays the foundation for the move to a new, state-of-the-art factory on Camelon’s Glasgow Road, which remains in use, extended and adapted, over 60 years later.”

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