W. Alexander & Sons

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A preserved W. Alexander & Sons Leyland Tiger bus with Alexander bodywork

W. Alexander & Sons Ltd was a bus operator and coachbuilder in Scotland. The company grew from small beginnings to become the largest bus operator in Scotland, and one of the largest in the U.K., by the time it was split up in 1961.[1] Its coachbuilding activities, which were transferred to a separate company in 1947, still survive as part of Alexander Dennis.


Alexanders' Motor Services began running 'omnibus' services in the Falkirk area from a base in Camelon in 1913,[2] and by 1924 the company was registered as W. Alexander & Sons Ltd.[3] It was run by father and son, Walter Alexander (1879–1959) and Walter Alexander (1902–1979).[4]

From 1929 the company was controlled by the Scottish Motor Traction Company (SMT),[5] which had itself come under control of the LMS and LNE Railway companies the previous year.[6] Expansion was rapid, partly achieved by acquisition. An early gain was the Scottish General Omnibus Group, which, through a northern subsidiary, took the growing Alexanders empire as far away as Aberdeen and Inverness by 1930. In 1934 another notable achievement was an agreement with Perth Corporation to run city bus services on their behalf.[3]

In addition to running services, Alexanders had also been building bus bodies since 1924, initially for their own use and then for their subsidiary operators and other members of the SMT group.[3] However, when the bus and coach operations of the SMT group were about to be nationalised[7] following the new Labour Government's 1947 Transport Act,[8] it became necessary to move the coachbuilding to a separate company, Walter Alexander & Co. (Coachbuilders) Ltd, in order to keep it in private hands.[3]

Nationalisation led to all SMT group bus and coach operations coming under the British Transport Commission,[7] and shortly after that Alexanders' local operations in the Inverness area were transferred to a new company, Highland Omnibuses Ltd.[3]

In 1961 the operating company was split into three smaller units, W. Alexander & Sons (Fife) Ltd. based in Kirkcaldy, W. Alexander & Sons (Midland) Ltd. based in Falkirk and W. Alexander & Sons (Northern) Ltd. based in Aberdeen. The old company's buses had used a blue livery, apart from Perth City and Kirkcaldy Town buses which had at times been painted red. Soon after the split, however, the Fife and Northern companies adopted red and yellow liveries respectively, while the Midland company retained the original shade of blue. Alexander Midland also absorbed David Lawson Ltd. of Kirkintilloch, which Alexanders had taken over in 1936.[3]

As part of a rebranding exercise within the Scottish Transport Group in 1978, fleet names Fife Scottish, Midland Scottish and Northern Scottish were adopted, the names anticipating the 1985 group reorganisation, in which boundaries were realigned and the three companies became four: Fife Scottish Omnibuses Ltd., Midland Scottish Omnibuses Ltd., Northern Scottish Omnibuses Ltd. and Strathtay Scottish Omnibuses Ltd.


  • Hibbs, J. (1968). The History of British Bus Services, David & Charles, Newton Abbott. ISBN 0715342215.
  • McCallum, F. & Bloomfield, S.W. (1965), British Bus Fleets No.22: Scottish Bus Group, Ian Allan, London.
  • Brown, S.J. (1984), Alexander's Buses, Fleetline Books. ISBN 0946033013.
  • Condie, A.T. (1996), Alexanders Buses Remembered - Volume 1 1945-1961, Allan T. Condie Publications. ISBN 1856380149.
  • Condie, A.T. (1997), Alexanders Buses Remembered - Volume 2 1961-1985, Allan T. Condie Publications. ISBN 1856380173.


  1. ^ McCallum & Bloomfield (1965), p. 7.
  2. ^ "Walter Alexander". Falkirk Wheel. Archived from the original on 21 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f McCallum & Bloomfield (1965), pp. 4-7.
  4. ^ Hibbs, John. "Alexander, Walter". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/49470.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ McCallum & Bloomfield (1965), p. 4.
  6. ^ McCallum & Bloomfield (1965), p. 74.
  7. ^ a b Hibbs (1968), p211.
  8. ^ Hibbs (1968), p206.