The complete timetable booklet for the buses of the Islands Area

Macbrayne's published a series of three bus timetable booklets in post-war years for the Southern, Northern and Islands Areas.  The Southern printed on pink paper, the Northern on yellow and the Islands on blue.  These were small booklets measuring but five inches by four inches.  In later years (from about 1959)  the three separate timetables were combined into one comprehensive book.  Of the three timetables the Islands Area was unique in printing its timetables in 'landscape' rather than 'portrait' layout.  

At this period Macbrayne's buses operated on Islay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist and Skye.  Services on Mull and Harris were yet to come in 1964. Although mainland bus services had started as early as 1906 from Fort William to North Ballachulish, the services on Islay were Macbrayne's first venture into island bus operation when the services of Neil McGibbon of Bowmore were acquired in 1941 on his retirement.  On South Uist the services of Angus MacKinnon of Askernish were taken over in January 1947.  Also in 1947 the operations of Alexander Ferguson of Clachan, Locheport on North Uist were acquired, whilst a year later in April 1948 the routes of  Angus MacDonald, Sollas, North Uist were acquired.  March 1948 saw the take over of the business of MacLean & MacDonald of Ardvasar, Skye, together with their route from Ardvasar and Armadale Pier to Kyleakin.  This included three buses and five lorries.  The other Skye route from Armadale to Portree came from Neil Beaton at the end of the summer of 1953. Operations on Skye were considerably expanded with the takeover of Skye Transport in 1958.

By scrolling down through this webpage illustrations of all sixteen pages of this timetable booklet will be found, covering the times and fares for all of their island routes.  You may need to allow enough time for all the pictures to load!


timetable cover islands area may 1955   
ISLAY  Services on Islay were timed to connect with the Macbrayne steamer landing on alternate days at Port Ellen and Port Askaig.  The runs to Glenegedale served the airport.  Until 1941 the main Islay operator was Neil McGibbon of Bowmore, who had held the Port Ellen to Port Askaig mail contract since 1907, passing from horse drawn to motor vehicle operation in 1913. Bridgend was linked to Port Charlotte by motor in 1926 and Portnahaven in 1931. The timetable as shown operated virtually unchanged throughout post-war years. Ken Cameron recalls that when Macbrayne withdrew from bus operations here in 1972 the routes passed in the main to Highland Omnibuses initially.  Harold Caskie, a shopkeeper in Bowmore, also participated for a while - he was the brother of Donald Caskie, the Tartan Pimpernel of Vichy-occupied France in the second world war.
Islay timetables   
SOUTH UIST   Services on South Uist, meeting the Inner Islands mail steamer from Oban which called at Lochboisdale from 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.  Interconnection was also possible with the Outer Islands mail steamer which was also moored at Lochboisdale at these times. There were also connecting buses for flights at Balivanich Airfield on Benbecula.  The islands of South Uist and Benbecula were connected by road in 1942, whilst the footnotes refer to a ferry between Gramsdale on Benbecula and Carinish on North Uist, which could only operate at high tide.  In more recent times a five mile road causeway was constructed between these points in 1960, enabling a through Lochmaddy to Lochboisdale bus route to be operated.  Not shown in this timetable are the several different busy church service runs on Sundays. Angus Mackinnon (1886-1964) of Askernish introduced the first public and mail bus on South Uist in 1924, running with a second hand 12-seater Ford Model T from Eochar (later Carnan) south to Lochboisdale pier for the steamer. The Mackinnon route was extended north to Benbecula and Gramsdale in 1942 when the bridge bewteen the two islands opened. The Mackinnon bus and lorry business was sold to Macbrayne in 1947 on Angus' retirement. Macbrayne withdrew from South Uist in November 1971 with the operation passing to Macaulay Brothers.
Uist timetables   
NORTH UIST   One of the two bus routes on North Uist, running from the steamer landing at Lochmaddy along the southern coast and around to the west at Baleloch, where connection was possible with the other route via Sollas and Grenitote.  These were the roads once served by the bus of Alexander Ferguson (1867-1950) of Clachan, Locheport, from September 1920 until October 1947.  The timetable is primarily designed to connect with the Outer Islands mail steamer from Mallaig and Kyle, which called at Lochmaddy on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.  The steamer also arrived very late evening on Monday before sailing again for Kyle of Lochalsh at 5.30 am on Tuesday.  Claddach garage must have been a very welcome sight for the bus driver at 1.50 am on a Tuesday morning!  Murdo Macpherson recalls that the regular driver was Duncan Robertson and the garage was small and next to Duncan's croft. One of the usual buses was Bedford OLAZ KGB 265,  fleet number 154.  Ken Cameron recalls the Macbrayne operations on North Uist passing to Maclean of Grimsay (a haulage operator) in January 1972; the runs on North Uist being the very last remaining of all the former widespread Macbrayne operated bus services.
Uist timetables   
NORTH UIST   The other service on North Uist, running along the north coast.  Once served by Angus MacDonald of Sollas whose father Alexander held the mail contract for this route since 1910. From 1931 a bus service was provided, driven by the son in 1946 until he was taken ill and died in 1947. Alexander wished to retire and disposed of the business to Macbrayne in February 1948. Again the timings of the departures are set by the arrival and departure times of the mail steamer at Lochmaddy.  Not apparent from the timetable is the connection available at Newton Ferry road end at 5.45 pm on Wednesday and Friday in the summer months, enabling travel from Lochmaddy at 5.30 pm to Sollas; and also at 5.30 pm from Sollas to Newton Ferry.  It was from here that it was possible to cross to Berneray and Harris. Macbrayne withdrew in 1972 and Ken Cameron recalls the north side route on the island of North Uist passing to (John?) MacCuish of Sollas.
Uist timetables   
SKYE   The two routes on the Isle of Skye were worked from the garage at Ardvasar, once the base of operations for the bus and haulage businesses of MacLean and MacDonald, and their bus route from thence to Kyleakin.  From Kyleakin Pier it was but a short five minute crossing by ferry to Kyle of Lochalsh and the train to Inverness.  The 7.45 am from Armadale and the 3.15 pm from Kyleakin were timed for rail connections.  Other journeys on this route reveal a quite involved pattern of days of operation in the winter months.  On the Portree route the timings at Armadale connected with the thirty minute ferry crossing from Mallaig, which was connected by rail with Fort William and Glasgow.  The restriction on carriage of local passengers between Broadford and Portree was to 'protect' the Skye Transport buses on their Kyleakin - Broadford - Portree route (taken over by Macbrayne in 1958).  Macbrayne withdrew from Skye in 1970 as part of their total withdrawal from motor bus operation and Highland Omnibuses operated from September of that year.
Skye timetables   
Some of the steamer connections to and from the islands.  The Islay connection from Glasgow was by train to Gourock, then the Macbrayne's Ardrishaig mail steamer to Tarbert (East).  This was usually the "Lochfyne". A connecting bus for the five minute journey across the isthmus to Tarbert (West) and then lastly the mail steamer "Lochiel"  to Port Askaig or Port Ellen.  The Inner Islands mail steamer "Claymore" from Oban served the islands of Mull, Coll, Tiree and Barra as well as South Uist, whilst the Outer Islands mail steamer "Lochmor" from Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig served Eigg, Rum, Canna, Scalpay and Harris on its way to or from North Uist (Lochmaddy) and South Uist (Lochboisdale).  Not shown below are the Stornoway ("Loch Seaforth") and Portree ("Loch Arkaig") mail steamers, both of which sailed daily from Kyle and Mallaig.  And the Tobermory mail steamer "Lochearn" sailed daily from Oban via several calling points in the Sound of Mull.  For more information visit Ships of CalMac.   
Steamer connections   
And some of the fares for the island bus routes (expressed then in £sd of course) . . .  on Islay the return tickets were restricted to the day of issue only, unlike the other islands served elsewhere on the Macbrayne bus network

Timetable of special runs on Sundays for church services on South Uist from the October 1951 timetable
church service runs south uist

After the causeway between Benbecula and North Uist was completed in 1960 through bus operation from Lochboisdale on South Uist across the isle of Benbecula to Lochmaddy on North Uist became possible. This is the May 1961 Macbrayne timetable for the new through route - primarily focused on mail steamer connections at Lochboisdale - with the 5.30 pm and 8.30 pm journeys operated from the Lochmaddy end for that purpose. The Uig to Lochmaddy car ferry would not start until 1964.

Ken Cameron recalls the changes in NORTH UIST about 1972 - my object was always to find somebody who had involvement with transport ,i.e. school contracts or haulage.  Local haulier, McLean of Graemsay, agreed to take on the South Side of North Uist. I was frequently torn between trying to get a good deal for the local authority and also a fair return for the operator.  I was also anxious not to spend too much money on setting up new services and I have an awful twinge of conscience that the changeover was never as professionally successful as I would now think appropriate.  The science of subsidized bus services has progressed greatly since the early 70s. In those days local authorities did not attach great importance to supporting public transport - I was only an intermediary but if I had not done it nobody else probably would have - at least not for some time! McCuish of Sollas was a school contractor (and coalman?).  He was quite happy to cover North Side - his operation would be simpler than that of McLean - I recall he just had to follow the main road.  Because these gentlemen were already running businesses during the day, I recall having to meet them at all hours of the night - usually with significant refreshments!  Knowing what I know now, I should have kept detailed records but of course the work was not for me personally but for HIDB and Inverness County Council who have the paperwork Everything now seems so vague - I cannot even recall the vehicle arrangements - I think both parties took a MacBrayne Bedford each.                               Ken Cameron, Cupar, 2009

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