King of the castle?

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The new livery and logo give a fresh new image. JONATHAN WELCH











Jonathan Welch pays a visit to King Coaches, the new name for coaching at First Aberdeen

It is almost seven and a half years since we last visited First Aberdeen’s King Street depot to speak to then Coaching Manager Tom Gordon about the operator’s coach hire division back in issue 1165. That was at the end of November 2014, when First Aberdeen Coach Hire was the group’s only true coach operation, with a mix of private hire, schools and contract work and even continental touring, operated by a fleet which included a pair of Temsa Safari HDs, Irizar PBs, and various Volvo B7 and B12s with Plaxton bodywork among others. Since then, a lot has happened in Aberdeen and in FirstGroup’s other operations across the UK, including the resurrection of the respected Truronian coaching brand at the opposite end of the country by First Devon & Cornwall as the group recognises the value of such activities alongside its core portfolio of bus services.

Aberdeen’s coaching unit has its roots in the 1988 management buy-out of Grampian Transport, which quickly acquired local operator Mairs Coaches, keeping it as a separate entity within the business. With a view to increasing the prestige of the fledgeling privatised operation, an executive coaching division was formed within Grampian Transport, Grampian Executive, leaving Mairs to focus on schools work. Early on, the operator even tried its hand at package tours under the GoldCrest name, though this didn’t last in the face of stiff tour industry competition. Other work included providing the team coach for Aberdeen FC for many years, initially using a 43-seat Jonckheere-bodied Volvo, and later a 34-seat Irizar PB, both fitted with tables and servery.

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