Wilts & Dorset[1] was a bus and coach operator providing services in East Dorset, South Wiltshire, and West Hampshire. It was part of Go South Coast, a subsidiary of the Go-Ahead Group, since 2012, the brand was withdrawn, with it being replaced by Morebus in Dorset and Salisbury Reds in Wiltshire.

Wilts & Dorset

Wilts & Dorset liveried Scania OmniCity
(Salisbury, July 2009)
ParentGo South Coast (part of the Go-Ahead Group)
Ceased operation2012
Service typeBus services

History edit

Past Logos
Wilts&Dorset logo used between 1917 and 1963
Wilts&Dorset logo used between 1983 and 1986
Wilts&Dorset logo used between 1986 and 2002
Wilts&Dorset logo used between 2002 and 2012

1915 to 1972 edit

Wilts & Dorset Motor Services Limited was incorporated in 1915, with its head office in Amesbury, Wiltshire, moving to Salisbury in 1917. The company's first route was between Salisbury and Amesbury.[2] The company grew rapidly in the Andover, Amesbury, Blandford Forum, Pewsey and Salisbury areas. The Southern Railway and Thomas Tilling obtained shares in 1931, with Wilts & Dorset being nationalised in 1948. It acquired Venture of Basingstoke in 1950, in a reorganisation following the nationalisation of Venture's parent, Red & White. Wilts & Dorset acquired Silver Star of Porton Down, Wiltshire in June 1963.[3]

Despite the name, the company's operations were mainly in the southern part of Wiltshire and the northern part of Hampshire.

In 1963 the management of Wilts & Dorset passed to Hants & Dorset, a neighbouring state-owned bus company. In 1969 both companies became part of the National Bus Company and in October 1972, they were merged under the Hants & Dorset name with the Wilts & Dorset name ceasing to be used.[4]

1983: re-establishment edit

The Transport Act 1985 led to the privatisation of the National Bus Company. In preparation for privatisation, in April 1983 Hants & Dorset was split into three operating companies, one of which was Wilts & Dorset Bus Company.[1][4]

The new Wilts & Dorset company's operating area was considerably larger than its older namesake, including Swanage, Poole, Bournemouth, Lymington, Devizes, Swindon, and Salisbury, although not Basingstoke. Depots were at Blandford Forum, Lymington, Pewsey, Poole, Ringwood, Salisbury, and Swanage.[4]

1987: privatisation edit

In June 1987 Wilts & Dorset was sold in a management buyout.[5] The new company fought off competition from Charlie's Cars[6] and Badger Vectis.[7]

In May 1993 Damory Coaches of Blandford Forum was purchased, followed in November 1993 by Oakfield Travel[8] and Stanbridge & Crichel Bus Company,[9] and in January 1994 by Blandford Bus Company.[10] All were combined under the Damory Coaches name.

2003: purchase by Go-Ahead edit

Leyland Olympian in Southampton in September 2008

On 11 August 2003 the business was sold to the Go-Ahead Group.[11] It is now part of the subsidiary Go South Coast.

Coach companies Tourist Coaches, Levers, and Kingston Coaches were purchased and consolidated under the Tourist Coaches name;[12] and in 2003 Bell's Coaches were added.

On 31 July 2008, a W&D open-top bus collided with two cars between Studland and the local chain ferry, injuring 30 people. The bus, a route 50 service travelling from Swanage to Bournemouth, collided with both a Volkswagen Golf and a Porsche, the latter of which was driving away from the chain ferry on Ferry Road and crashed head on with the bus and the other car.[13] A number of passengers reported the bus travelled a distance on two wheels, and the eventual toppling took place at low speed. The top-deck passengers were all thrown off onto soft ground in a ditch. Six passengers were taken to Poole Hospital with minor injuries.[14] The driver of the Porsche was later convicted of driving without due care and attention.[15]

In 2011, Wilts & Dorset trialled Go-Ahead Group's "The Key" smartcard ticketing system similar to London's Oyster card and the ITSO ticket used on National Rail services, which was already in use by sister companies Brighton and Hove and Metrobus. In 2012 it was launched across the entire network, with passengers able to save up to 33% against purchasing paper tickets.

In 2014, it was announced that the bus station on Endless Street, Salisbury, would close in favour of town centre stops. The station had opened in 1939 as the headquarters of Wilts & Dorset.[16]

2012: rebranding edit

In July 2012 it was announced that the Wilts & Dorset name would be dropped from bus services in favour of the morebus brand in Poole and Bournemouth, and Salisbury Reds in Salisbury and Amesbury.

Coach operations edit

Coach operations were established by the company in the 1990s when Wilts & Dorset purchased Tourist Coaches of Figheldean, Wiltshire. Tourist Coaches now operates public services within the Wiltshire area from the Salisbury Reds depot. It was founded in 1920 by E & DF Stanfield in Figheldean, Wiltshire. At the time, it provided both private coach hire and contract coach services for the military establishments around Salisbury Plain.[17]

In Dorset, three acquisitions were made: Damory Coaches in May 1993, Oakfield Travel in November 1993,[8] and Blandford Bus Company in January 1994.[10] The latter three were then combined under the Damory Coaches name. Excelsior Motorways was also purchased following the retirement of its owner in October 2016.[18][19] Each operation that was purchased became a brand under the company which run public and school routes within its own area.

Former Services edit

Wimborne Flyer edit

Optare Excel 3609 on Wimborne Flyer route 3 in Poole in July 2007

The Wimborne Flyer, now known as service 3, replaced the Poole to Wimborne section of service 132 after the major restructuring of Poole services in June 2006. It runs four times an hour Monday to Saturday. The service differs from the old service 132 by taking a direct route between Poole and Broadstone, using a faster route through Merley, and extending the service from Wimborne Square to the Leigh Park estate. The service, when launched, was almost exclusively operated by Mercedes-Benz Citaros in the new standard Wilts & Dorset livery, though 'more' Citaros and Wright Eclipse Urbans were also seen.

Local residents criticised the change of route, specifically through Merley where the buses took a narrower but more direct road through the estate. Some criticism has also been aimed at the Citaro buses after a number of accidents, including buses demolishing walls while trying to pass each other on a narrow road[20] and tearing hanging baskets from walls in Wimborne Square while turning.[21] Following numerous complaints, Wilts & Dorset rerouted the service through Merley from 29 October 2006, reverting to part of the old 132 route through Merley Gardens.[22]

From 6 April 2008, two out of the four buses per hour started to run via Corfe Mullen rather than Merley with all services also stopping at Broadstone Broadway. Services to and from Leigh Park only run during the morning and evening peak. With the Wimborne Flyer now covering the section of route between Broadstone and Corfe Mullen, most service 4 journeys started to terminate at Broadstone.

As part of the 3 June 2012 network changes, the 3 was withdrawn and was merged with Route 4, which was extended beyond Broadstone to Wimborne either via Merley or Corfe Mullen. After many complaints, Route 4X was introduced between Poole & Broadstone/Merley via the old Route 3 during the morning and evening rush-hours towards the end of June 2012.[23] Towards the end of July 2012 however, it was announced that Route 3 would be re-instated from 17 September 2012[24][25] and that both routes 3 & 4 would join the more brand.[26]

Pulseline edit

Mercedes-Benz Citaro with the previous "Pulseline" branding in Salisbury in July 2009

PulseLine was the name of services around Salisbury to the District Hospital. In 2010 the name was replaced by Salisbury Reds, using the previous Mercedes-Benz Citaros repainted in the revised Wilts & Dorset livery with Salisbury Reds branding. In addition to the Citaros, ex Southern Vectis Dennis Dart MPDs were transferred and repainted into Wilts & Dorset livery with branding applied.

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Companies House extract company no 1671355 Wilts & Dorset Bus Company Limited
  2. ^ Wilts & Dorset: Our history
  3. ^ Silver Star Motor Services Ltd Peter Gould
  4. ^ a b c Hants & Dorset Motor Services Ltd Peter Gould
  5. ^ Companies House extract company no 2091878 Wilts & Dorset Holdings Limited
  6. ^ Charlie's Cars, Bournemouth & Poole Buses and Trams
  7. ^ Morris, Stephen (Autumn 1996). "From chaos to uneasy peace". Buses Focus. 3.
  8. ^ a b Oakfield Travel Countrybus
  9. ^ Stanbridge & Crichel Bus Company Countrybus
  10. ^ a b Damory Coaches Collins Place
  11. ^ Bus buy for Go-Ahead The Guardian 12 August 2003
  12. ^ About Tourist Coaches
  13. ^ "Porsche driver arrested after crash". Sky News. 31 July 2008.
  14. ^ "Many hurt as open bus overturns". BBC News. 31 July 2008.
  15. ^ Pendlebury, Fiona (18 March 2009). "Porsche driver convicted over Studland bus crash". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Bus station closes after 75 years". BBC News: Wiltshire. 4 January 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  17. ^ "about us | Tourist Coaches". Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  18. ^ "90-year-old coach firm is sold to Morebus owner". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  19. ^ "EXCELSIOR MOTORWAYS – THE BOURNEMOUTH COACH OPERATOR". www.countrybus.co.uk. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  20. ^ Accident fears after bus smash Bournemouth Daily Echo – 28 September 2006
  21. ^ Outcry after bus collision Bournemouth Daily Echo – 29 June 2006
  22. ^ U-turn on bus route Bournemouth Daily Echo – 2 October 2006
  23. ^ "Broadstone residents call for Route 3 bus to be reintroduced (From Bournemouth Echo)". Bournemouthecho.co.uk. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  24. ^ "Flyer bus service returns (From Bournemouth Echo)". Bournemouthecho.co.uk. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  25. ^ "travel update". Morebus.co.uk. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  26. ^ "travel update". Morebus.co.uk. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2014.

Further reading edit

  • Morris, Colin; Waller, Andrew (November 2006). The Definitive History of Wilts & Dorset Motor Services Ltd, 1915–1972. Hobnob Press.