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Step back in time: Rolling back the years at Aberdeen Bus Station

Aberdeen bus station on Guild Street in 1977.
Aberdeen bus station on Guild Street in 1977.

The opening of Aberdeen’s first bus station on Guild Street was hailed as an occasion to bring road and rail “harmoniously” together on one site.

The modern, typically 1960s concrete-constructed building was unveiled on Friday April 12 1963.

By now, any trace of Aberdeen’s historic tram network had been obliterated, and the increased demand for buses called for a dedicated travel hub.

In fact, when the bus station opened, James Amos of the Scottish Omnibus Group said it was “lucky” the trams had been scrapped otherwise the £80,000 bus station could never have been justified.

Many Aberdonians will remember setting off on adventures from the old Guild Street bus station, whether to football games in the Central Belt, heading to university or taking coach trips abroad.

We take a ticket to ride down memory lane with a look back at the archives of Aberdeen bus station.

Prior to the bus station, Upper Denburn Road and Jack’s Brae were the unofficial parking stances for Aberdeen’s fleet of Bluebirds.

When they weren’t zipping about the north-east, the buses lined up on the road in part of Aberdeen city centre that is barely recognisable from this skyline photo from 1960.

Work on the new bus station started in earnest in the early 1960s, with a site first identified on Guild Street.

This photo from 1961 shows the dismantling of the weigh house at the entrance to the fish-loading bank at Aberdeen Joint Railway Station.

Fish-loading operations moved from the old siding to a new area by the goods yard.

Old and new came together when the “dignified and majestic” Guild Street bus station opened in the shadow of the handsome Tivoli Theatre in 1963.

The new facility was said to be the realisation of a nine-year dream for Aberdeen’s bus users who were fed up of standing in the cold and rain while awaiting their ride.

The bus station featured a waiting room, a left-luggage department, booking and inquiry offices, 20 bus stances, and upstairs, there was a canteen and offices for staff.

This smiling clippie was delighted to be back at work in December 1974 following weeks of intense strike action in the north-east bus disputes.

Pickets had been in place at Aberdeen, Buckie, Huntly and Montrose as strikers sought a wage of £1 an hour for their 35-hour working week.

Staff at the few remaining bus depots operating across the north-east reported incidents of sabotage with tyres let down to immobilise those crossing picket lines.

The attractive, Victorian frontage of Aberdeen’s railway station can just be glimpsed behind the Guild Street bus station in this shot from 1977.

Many Aberdonians will recall taking refuge from the rain under the shelter as wind blew through the wind tunnel-like site near the harbour on bleak winter days.

There were big smiles all round on March 31 1979 as these lucky young Dons fans won tickets to the League Cup final at Hampden.

The youngsters were the winners of the Evening Express’ Green Final Hampden contest and were awaiting their bus to Glasgow decked out in red and white.

Sadly for the fans, Rangers won 2-1.

Colin Shepherd, David Ross and Murray Alexander, front from left, were among the Dons supporters leaving from Guild Street bus station en route to Den’s Park for the Scottish League Cup Final in 1979.

The Dandies were taking on Dundee United in a New Firm derby on December 8, with the clash ending in a goalless draw.

Unfortunately for Aberdeen and their travelling fans, a replay four days later saw the Tangerines take a 3-0 victory over the Reds.

It was the end of an era for chargehand mechanic William Anderson, centre right, of Kincorth as he marked his retirement in 1979 after 41 years on the buses.

William had spent decades working for William Alexander and Sons (Northern) and received a cheque from Guild Street depot general manager James Penman to recognise his service.

These former bus conductresses enjoyed a reunion dinner at the 22 Club in Aberdeen in 1986.

Jean Greig, Isobel Birse, Mabel Walker and May McCombie were joined by Sholto Thomas the area manager for Northern Scottish Buses.

It was all change again in 2008 with the extensive redevelopment of the Guild Street bus station and railway site to make way for a multi-million-pound shopping mall.

The old bus station was demolished and in its place Union Square shopping centre was erected linking a new bus station with the old railway station frontage.

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