After the success of last year’s post about the Rail stations of Dundee, we thought we would share some information and photos of the Bus Stations of Dundee. What makes a place a bus station is a little different to that of rail station. A railway station is a somewhere a train stops. Buses stop more often. It would indeed be a very large article if I were to tell you about every bus stop, or halt as they are sometimes known, in the City. Stops are just that, a designated place for a bus to stop and let people on or off. They have been vetted, checked and deemed safe so that they will cause the least amount of obstruction. One step up from this is a stance or bay. These are areas off the main carriageway of a road where a bus can sit and wait. These are usually at the start or end of a route, at key points or on busier roads. A station is therefore a collection stances or bays, where many buses wait to start or end their routes. We realise this is not a comprehensive account of all bus stops and stances in Dundee, but we think we have got the main stations.
The Dundee Corporation first started using buses (or omnibuses to give them their correct name) in 1920. The decision was made at a Tramways Committee meeting on 9th November 1920 to buy two motor buses and 2 charabancs. The first motor bus route was from the High Street, down Commercial Street, through Dock Street to Camperdown Street and then along to Broughty Ferry, finishing at Broughty Castle. There was a stance on the High Street (opposite number 47) and at Castle Terrace. A ticket for the full journey cost 4d (that’s about 67p in todays money – a bargain!). On 26th April 1922, the committee decided that buses would be green and ivory, a colour scheme which is still reflected today.
Deliberations about creating a Central Bus Station started in 1928. Shore Terrace was the obvious place to put it. There were other suggestions for the north side of the Nethergate in front of the City Churches or on Commercial Street, but these were already quite busy and narrow roads. So the area behind the newly built Caird Hall was chosen. At first it was hoped that private companies would use the stances and pay a subsidy but the Council’s sub-committee decided against this. Putting the bus station there also meant an end to the Lady Mary Fair and Greenmarket. The new stances were opened in 1934. Shelters weren’t added until 1949 – made partially by reinforced concrete.
After being on the very edge of town, the Shore Terrace station moved to being right in the middle of the action in the 1960s. The docks, were filled in, the new Tay Road Bridge was built and a whole new road system was built in the surrounding area. The bus station survived this upheaval. In the next decade, it was not so lucky. The decision to revive the Tay Road Bridge land fall area involved considerable development, including a new swimming baths, hotels, car parks, and an office block for the new Tayside Regional Council. Although much of this development didn’t quite happen fully, Tayside House did get the go ahead. This meant the end for the Shore Terrace bus station. The stances on Shore Terrace were closed in March 1973. After this, there was no Corporation Bus Station in Dundee. The operation of buses was privatised in 1986 and in 1997 Dundee buses were taken over by Xplore Dundee (part of National Express).
You can view more pictures of Shore Terrace and the bus stances on our Flickr page.
Lindsay Street/South Ward Road
This bus station opened on 15th March 1935. The difference between this and the Shore Terrace stances was that there was more accommodation for passengers and staff, including waiting rooms. When it opened, the Evening Telegraph stated that “Dundee’s up-to-dateness as a bus centre will be beyond question after this week.” It was described as the “only one of its kind in Scotland outside Glasgow”. A newsagent ajoined the waiting room and the top floor of the building was let out to a billiards saloon, which had 12 tables, among the best in the city.
This bus station was not run by the Dundee Corporation. It was run by Alexander’s. W Alexander & Sons were from Falkirk and operate bus routes throughout Scotland. The appear to have first opened an office in Dundee around 1928. The routes offered tended to be a little more long distance than the corporation buses, covering areas outside the city.
The Seagate Bus Station was opened in 1958, around the time the above picture was taken. It was built to replace the Alexander’s bus station on Lindsay Street/South Ward Road. The site was originally the Trades Lane Calendar Works. Alexanders was split into 3, ownership of the bus station came under W. Alexander & Sons (Northern) Ltd which was based in Aberdeen. Another branch was based in Fife and was later called Fife Scottish. This then became part of Stagecoach.
Since 1948 bus companies, including Alexanders, had been nationalised and were run as part of the British Transport Commission, and later the Scottish Bus Group. In 1986 the SBG was split up and private companies took over the buses again. According to the valuation rolls, in October 1985 ownership was transfer to Strathtay Omnibus Company. This then became part of the Stagecoach group.
You can view more pictures of the Seagate Bus Station on our Flickr page.