New book captures history of buses in the Western Isles

John with his book, Buses of Skye and the Western Isles
John with his book, Buses of Skye and the Western Isles

Historians with an interest in the Western Isles will be pleased to hear of the launch of a new book capturing the history of the buses that have served the Western Isles in the 60s and 70s .

John Sinclair has been photographing buses for 50 years. When in his mid twenties he worked as a trainee surgeon in Lewis Hospital and, despite being on call at all hours of the day, he managed to find the time to get around the islands with his camera.

The book, which is full of pictures taken by John, and a few by his close friend Robert Grieves, captures a unique aspect of the islands’ social history, set in the stunning and dramatic scenery of the picturesque Western Isles.

The unusual nature of John’s hobby has taken him to some remote and peculiar locations in search of a great shot, drawing some strange looks along the way.

He said: “I don’t think that people can get over the fact that some character in his 70’s is taking pictures of buses.”

John’s photography has captured an aspect of history that otherwise could have been lost altogether, and John has witnessed the industry change drastically over the years from a time when the islands were served by the characteristic MacBraynes.

“The modern buses are not nearly as colourful” John continued,”but I still like rural buses and going to the most remote places where there are single track roads, which I love.”

John recalled his time spent travelling around the highlands and islands in his youth. Having very little money to travel, he would hitch-hike from place to place and when he couldn’t find a room in a nearby youth hostel he would sleep in a cell in the local police station.

Buses of Skye and the Western Isles is the second of John’s books. The first, Highland Buses, is available on Amazon where it was a best seller.

Buses of Skye and the Western Isles can be bought in the Baltic Bookshop in Stornoway where, if you act quick, you can pick up one of the copies that John has signed.