Wheels Around the Highlands and Hebrides - In Colour Photographs, by John Sinclair

Wheels Around the Highlands and Hebrides - In Colour Photographs, by John Sinclair
Book published by Stenlake in 2020, 56 pages. Rectangular paperback - c.17.5 by 24cm (N7816)

Brand New Book

From the introduction: As a friend once said to me 'it was the hobby which chose me. Why else would you be interested in buses? I was too young to reflect on this as I sat alone at the age of seven years and one month, upstairs at the front of the bus taking me on my daily 17 mile journey to school at Pocklington in Yorkshire in 1948. Having won a scholarship, my mother insisted on my attending this school and did accompany me on the first day of term, after which the conductress Kitty kept a maternal eye on me. While sitting on a deserted beach in April at Lendalfoot on the Ayrshire coast, where we rented a basic and joyless holiday cottage, there seemed little of interest apart from swimming and the bewildering variety of buses which passed through every two hours.

Thus my interest in buses was nurtured, and by the age of 16 I realised I could now travel all over the country in pursuit of my hobby for the price of a night in a youth hostel and simple meals. My mother, who had a laissez-faire approach to all non-academic aspects of life, agreed, and £3 a week covered expenses. I had gradually developed a technique for hitch hiking in this country and overseas, which virtually , guaranteed I could reach my intended destination every night, and until I bought my first car at the age of 24, I had hitched more than 1,350 lifts. I reckoned that it was a contract where I gave the driver the questionable benefit of my company in return for the hospitality of the lift. On rare occasions I had elected to stay voluntarily in a police station overnight, and signed the exit book at 6 am the following morning.

Initially after qualifying as a doctor, I had worked in Inverness and Stornoway, and done locum work in the Highlands including remote locations such as Applecross. When the children were young my wife who was also a doctor and I would combine such locum work with holidays, as well as choosing to spend our family holidays in the Highlands and Islands. However our family home remained in Glasgow, because the nature of my work as a surgeon required me to be in a big population centre. Even today though, we return to the Highlands on holidays with the grand-children, and after 65 years I am still photographing buses in remote scenic locations against a backdrop of majestic mountains, luminescent lochs and silver seas. To me the buses are obviously of intrinsic interest, but equally fascinating is the operational background as to what bus runs on a particular route. The desolate and rugged terrain with single track roads, steep gradients, tortuous bends, ferry slipways, hump backed bridges, cattle grids and meandering sheep requires a particular type of vehicle. Equally relevant are the services the bus is required to provide, with the provision of mail, delivery of goods and transport of particular groups such as skiers or children, The photographs in this book are intended to give a flavour of bus operation in the Highlands and Islands, principally during the 1960s at a time when the buses themselves were often individualistic and sometimes unique, and I hope capture some of the stunning scenery through which the buses operated.