In Hamilton Sheriff Court at the end of June 1925, two bus drivers were prosecuted for alleged reckless driving, exceeding the speed limit, and running abreast —all to the danger the Blantyre public.
The incident, with its consequent conviction, gave Sheriff Shennan an opportunity or making some general observations on motor bus competition.
The accused were Allan Brown, 8 Findlay Street, Motherwell, and John M’Cluskey, 188 Eddlewood, Buildings, was alleged that on 14th May on Glasgow Road, Blantyre, they drove their respective buses recklessly, exceeded the speed limit, and ran abreast for a considerable distance to the public danger.
Brown was driving a Lanarkshire Tramway Company’s bus, and M’Cluskey was employed by Messrs Torrance, Hamilton. According to the evidence of several civilian witnesses the two vehicles drew together shortly after passing Auchinraith Road, Blantyre, on their way to Glasgow.
M’Cluskey was on his own side of the road, and the driver of the other bus attempted to pass him on the right side of the highway just after John Street. The two buses ran for some length cheek by jowl. One witness said they were going so fast that he was unable to “spot’ the numbers! “You couldn’t see anything for stoor” was the testimony of another, and it was declared that the vehicles were going so fast and the risk of disaster was so great that woman hid their faces with their shawls or ran away.
Two police officers, who witnessed the affair, timed the buses over a known distance of 450 yards, and calculated they were doing from 34 to 36 miles per hour!
The accused themselves admitted the speed was greater than 20 miles an hour. There was other traffic on the road at the time, and Mr A. M’Clure, solicitor, Glasgow, who represented the drivers, made that a point in their defence.
M’Cluskey frankly admitted in the box that, being his own side of the road, he was not going to let the other man pass him. Brown denied much of the evidence for the prosecution, and he was cross examined by the Sheriff as well as by the Fiscal. Sheriff Shennan, at the conclusion of the evidence, said he must convict. He said, “These buses are not an instrument that can be driven with safety over a speed of 20 miles an hour in a crowded thoroughfare like Glasgow Road. I have great difficulty whether to suspend license or not. I hate the idea, of taking away man’s means of livelihood.” His Lordship then fined Brown £4, twenty days’ imprisonment, and £2. or ten days’ imprisonment, and added—“ While I impose these fines, I am not going to restrict myself in the future to simply fines. I warn drivers that they run grave risk having their licenses suspended.’
Blantyre bus from that same year is pictured.