A lifetime spent on the buses

John Sinclair, wrote a book about Highland buses'Photo Emma Mitchell'9/7/13
John Sinclair, wrote a book about Highland buses'Photo Emma Mitchell'9/7/13

A bus enthusiast has published a book about Highland Buses with pictures he’s taken of them over the past 50 years.

John Sinclair (72), a retired surgeon, who jokes that his hobby makes him ‘a bit of an anorak’ wanted to share his love of old buses with other bus buffs.

Mr Sinclair said: “It’s not so much an anorak’s bible, more a coffee table book, an amalgam of nostalgia and Highland scenery in colour from the sixties to the seventies.”

He acquired his first 35mm camera which could take slides in 1961, and the book begins with pictures that he took after he signed out of Thurso police cells at 6am so that he could be at Dounray nuclear reactor at 7.30am for the arrival of 40 elderly buses from all over Caithness.

Mr Sinclair of Bridgegait, Milngavie, explained: “I normally stayed in youth hostels but some police stations would also provide basic accommodation if you arrived at a place after midnight.

“You had to sign in a register and be out by 6am but that suited me fine - they got to know me quite well at Thurso police station as I stayed there several times over four years.

“I hitchhiked everywhere as I couldn’t afford public transport. Over ten years I got 1,382 lifts across Britain and Europe - I loved travelling and in those days it was so easy to get a lift.

“When I was in Europe I wore my kilt and a stethoscope around my neck which was enough to make people curious enough to stop.

“Once they had stopped and talked to me and realised I am a reasonable person they were happy to give me a lift as they thought I’d be good company.”

‘Highland Buses’ provides a window into the past of the isolated communities served by these buses from Thurso and Wick in the far north through Fort William to Oban and Kyle of Lochalsh as well as the ferry to Skye.

Many of them show stunning highland scenery and landscapes.

His next book will feature buses in Skye and the Western Isles where he worked for a couple of years before returning to Glasgow to complete his surgical training.

Highland Buses is available to buy priced £14.99 at Milngavie Bookshop and The Milngavie and Bearsden Herald has a copy to give away.

Simply answer the following question and send your entry with your name, address and phone number to Highland Bus competition, Milngavie and Bearsden Herald, 11 Dalrymple Court, Kirkintilloch, G66 3AA by 5pm on Tuesday, July 22.

When did Mr Sinclair acquire his first 35mm camera?