Wednesday, 16 January 2013


A sideways move from buses to trains today to recommend a book co-written by my colleague Chris Austin OBE, working in partnership with Richard Faulkner (Lord Faulkner of Worcester).  'HOLDING THE LINE: How Britain's Railways Were Savedchronicles the repeated attempts in the second half of the 20th century to destroy Britain's rail network and more importantly, how it was saved. Both authors were closely involved in rail management during these critical years and the book is based on their first-hand personal experiences. Chris, during his time working in the Strategic Rail Authority, was responsible or the introduction of the government's Community Rail Development Strategy. This successful initiative supports many of our local rail lines and continues to go from strength to strength led by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP).

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


A splendid sunny day in Winchester yesterday for the annual King Alfred running day, their twenty ninth year. And on sale on almost every stall in the transport bazaar was Andrew Waller's splendid new hardbacked book about Toopy's buses: 'BERE REGIS & DISTRICT MOTOR SERVICES, the life and times of country busmen'. Compared to my earlier publication 'Bere Regis & District, the story of their bus services' it is a far more comprehensive and well researched history of the fabled operator, as well as being splendidly illustrated. I recommend it to you as well worth spending your hard-earned money on! Whilst in Winchester it was pleasant to recquaint myself with Mark Chessell, author of the recently published 'Independent Bus Services on the Isle of Wight'.  Another history which I recommend to you as a worthy read. Wishing a happy new year to one and all.

Saturday, 15 September 2012


My good friend and long time colleague Roger Grimley has written and published many books recording the history of bus and coach operators in the West Country, from Cornwall and Devon to Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire. A real labour of love over the years incorporating both personal reminiscences and studied research.  If you share these interests with us you will find it well worthwhile to take a look at his new website:

Thursday, 19 July 2012

80 years ago . . .

As the torrential rains came down all around and our planned trip out today was postponed, I sat and reminisced about what was happening in the world 80 years ago in 1932. Those thoughts were largely triggered by a radio programme about walking and the mass trespass at Kinder Scout in that same year, and without which perhaps the freedom to ramble as we know it today would not have happened.

What has that got to do with Dorset and buses you may well ask? The year is the connection. One of the treasures from a lifetime of collecting transport memorabilia and ephemera is a copy of the 1932 poster issued by the Dorchester and District Carriers Association, complete with a list of their routes and times..

Sixty three villages are listed as being linked to Dorchester by bus, not quite from A to Z but ranging from Affpuddle and Ansty through Chebbard and Littlemayne to Waddock and Wrackleford. Many of the services shown were run only two days per week for the market on Wednesday and Saturday whilst a smaller number of villages could lay claim to a daily service, including the roads to Frampton, Bloxworth, Cerne Abbas and Puddletown. Many of the routes terminated in the Council Yard in Trinity Street, opened in 1922. Others continued to 'put up' in the time-honoured way at inns such as the White Hart, the Phoenix, the Plume and the Ship.

Some of the operators names are now long forgotten, whilst many others were taken over by the ever expanding Bere Regis & District Motor Services during the war or shortly after. The name of Davis – one of the partners in the Bere Regis business - appears on the poster with his service from Bloxworth. One of the other partners – Toop – appears with a route from Winfrith. Other names that lasted into comparatively recent times include House of Hilton and Pearce of Cattistock.

It was in Pearce's garage that this little piece of history from 1932 hung above the office desk for many long years. Coincidentally it was in 1932 that Pearce obtained their first school contract to Maiden Newton from Cattistock. Many years have passed now, operators have come and gone, routes and vehicles have changed. How many of those village journeys are still possible today, are there still buses in Southover or Hillfield?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Deregistering what was registered . . .

Dorset is turning out to be interesting these days.  Damory (Go Ahead) may have very much upset the county council by deregistering the several routes that they registered commercially a few months ago at the time of the county retendering exercise. These were routes that were deliberately registered apparently to block out Yellow Buses who had won those particular routes originally. The routes involved being 103 Bovington to Dorchester; 347 / 387 Poole to Dorchester; and 1, 2, 3, 4 Dorchester Town. Damory have also deregistered 7 Dorchester - Herrison Hospital, but this has always been commercially operated. 
An intriguing possibility mooted is that the county themselves mighty divert one of the two electric buses on order for their new 6 route from Dorchester to Poundbury and operate the 7 to Herrison directly themselves. 
All these changes happen from 18th February and it might well be poetic justice if Yellow Buses now regained the routes they had originally won. One thing for sure it is going to cost the county council a great deal of the money they thought they had saved by their new pan-global method of tendering!.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Website revamp

Some of the regulars on the Countrybus website suggested it was time for a make-over or revamp of the site, that some of the pages were getting too long and needed a lot of scrolling to read the whole page.  Well we've had a go and have split the different topic areas into separate sections.  See what you think, and let us know what you think.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Around Casterbridge Town

So for once the driver's rumours have been shown to be correct, and their prophesy has come to pass.  The business of Coach House Travel of Dorchester (home of Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge) has been sold to Damory Coaches, the rapidly expanding Go Ahead subsidiary company which has recently gained a considerable percentage of the tendered bus and school work across Dorset.  This will mark the end of thirty years of independently operated town services in Dorchester, from Interbus through Bere Regis to Cawlett to Coach House.  Also transferring to Damory will be the long established Herrison Hospital bus route with its intriguing history: a route that has been commercially operated since Coach House Travel acquired it from the health authority in the mid-1990s.  Interestingly Damory are to operate the town services commercially - rather than under subsidy - when they take over in October.  Perhaps the real value of Les Watt's business to Go Ahead is for parking space rather than for the bus routes per se  (-: