During the 1920s, bus trips to places such as Oban or St Andrews were often available during the summer months.

Local factories also organised outings for their workers, and one of the omnibus companies that was used was Bertolini’s in Tillicoultry.

However, on Tuesday, May 7, 1929, a fire was discovered at the bus depot, and it would prove to be a devasting blaze, destroying the entire garage.

At around 3.45 that morning, a baker was on his way to work when he noticed a smell of burning rubber emanating from the motor garage that once stood at 3 Ochil Street.

It belonged to Sylvio Bertolini, the bus proprietor, who lived in nearby Ann Street. On taking a closer look from an adjoining close, the baker found that the building was full of smoke.

Immediately he began knocking on adjoining properties to raise the alarm so the occupants could get themselves to safety, and he informed the local police. The Alloa Fire Brigade was also informed and arrived at the scene quickly.

By the time the fire fighters had arrived, the fire had a firm hold on the garage and threatened the neighbouring properties. Taking water from the water main, they poured it onto the adjacent buildings, which was their priority, before training their hoses on the garage. No-one was now in these houses as they had all been evacuated. The fire fighters managed to save the adjoining building, although some of the woodwork on the roof had been damaged by the fire when it caught light.

They then concentrated their hoses on the garage and finally managed to get it under control, but the damage had already been done.

The one-storey garage was completely destroyed in the blaze. Inside, the contents were also destroyed including four omnibuses, 60 gallons of lubricating oil, a petrol pump, and a quantity of spare parts and tools used by the mechanics.

Underneath the floor was the petrol tank which contained 260 gallons of fuel. If that had caught light, the fire would have been much worse, causing it to spread further, decimating a wider area. Miraculously, it escaped unscathed by the blaze.

There was also no loss of life.

The cost of the damage and the loss of the buses was estimated at £5000, but the cause of the fire was never discovered. It was just lucky that the baker noticed it at an early stage, or the consequences may have been far worse than just the loss of the buses and tools.