Volvo Ailsa Mk (Aa B55-10)
Volvo TD70A Diesel
Tayside Regional Council
Taybus Vintage Vehicle Society members(s)
NPS326R was one of a batch of 35 Ailsas delivered to Tayside between August and November 1976. The Ailsa was assembled at Volvo’s plant at Irvine in Ayrshire and was the vehicle that helped to establish Volvo in the UK bus market in opposition to the then market leader Leyland - a company that Volvo would eventually buy out in 1988. Tayside had already bought five Ailsas from the first production batch earlier in 1976 but unfortunately none of Tayside’s first batch survive.
It entered service in September 1976 on the main Downfield to Ninewells Hospital route. The following year it was one of a number of vehicles across the UK painted silver to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977; later in life it carried an overall advert for Bell’s Scotch whisky.
The first 19 of the R-registered buses were delicensed in 1986 and put into store. Most of these were then sold to the dealer Ensignbus and a number were sold on to Boro’Line Maidstone, the Kent municipal operator that enjoyed a brief period of success operating tendered services in London. These vehicles spent several years operating intensive services in London, ironically at exactly the same time as Strathtay Scottish in Dundee was operating former London Routemasters. NSP325R to NSP329R remained in Dundee and were reinstated two years later by Tayside Public Transport Co. and repainted in their blue and cream livery.
NSP326R was finally withdrawn in 1991 and sold to a local farmer for use as a berry bus for the following ten years.
Three TVVS members bought NSP326R for preservation in 2001. The vehicle was complete and in more or less original condition, except that the middle doors had been sealed shut when it was sold by Tayside and an additional seat placed in the stepwell. Some of the seat cushions have been replaced with ones to the original pattern, rescued from similar bus 128 which was scrapped some years ago. The bus is currently being repanelled in preparation for a full repaint.