Bere Regis Village, Dorset
Bere Regis Village Click / tap images to enlarge
The   material   in   this   section   has   been   researched   by   Peter   Roberts,   Roger   Grimley   &   Henry   Frier.   If you   wish   to   find   out   more   please   visit   the   Country   Bus   Website   here .         Thank   you   for   all   your   hard work & dedication in collating it all. From   humble   beginnings   on   29th   October   1929   -   when   a   bus   driver   called   Reg   Toop   decided   to leave   his   employer   George   Vacher   and   set   up   in   business   on   his   own   in   competition   against   him with   a   Ford   Model   T   14-seater   -   this   organisation   grew   to   be   the   largest   independent   operator   in the   county   of   Dorset   in   postwar   years.         Whether   by   coincidence   or   as   consequence,   Vacher   sold   his business   to   the   expanding   Hants   &   Dorset   Motor   Services   in   August   1930,   and   remained   in   their employ   as   the   local   inspector   for   many   years   afterwards.      He   died   in   1958   at   the   age   of   71.      Vacher had   originally   traded   as   Bere   Regis   Motor   Services   -   the   name   that   Toop   then   acquired   almost   by   default   when   it   became   available,   changing   it   to   Bere Regis & District, having previously traded as Pioneer! Reg Toop Vacher   had   operated   from   his   home   village   of   Bere   Regis   since   horse   drawn   days   and   acquired   his   first   motor   bus   in   1919.      This   was   used   on   routes   to Dorchester   on   Wednesdays   and   Saturdays   and   to   Poole   on   Mondays   and   Thursdays.      By   1927   there   were   two   motor   vehicles   and   additional   routes were   being   run   to   Blandford,   Bournemouth,   Wimborne   and   Wareham.      With   regards   to   the   latter   destination,   Harry   Farr   was   running   to   Wareham from Bere Regis on Thursdays and Saturdays too, since at least 1920. The   Photo   at   top   is   of   George   Vacher's   Bere   Regis   Motor   Service   from   the   late   1920's.   The   charabanc   was   carrying   27   people,   plus   the   driver.   The driver,   in   the   peaked   cap   is   Reg   Toop,   who   in   1929   went   on   to   establish   Bere   Regis   Motor   Services,   which   rapidly   built   into   a   large   enterprise   across Dorset. Toop   drove   for   Vacher   from   the   age   of   14.      To   start   his   own   business   and   buy   his   first   bus,   he   borrowed   money   from   several   people   in   Bere   Regis, including Doctor Liss and Applin the butcher. The initial routes operated by Toop were: Bere Regis - Kingston - Zelstone – Lytchett Matravers – Poole (once on Monday and Friday, four times on Saturday and Sunday) Bere Regis – Bere Heath – Wareham (Thursday and Saturday) Bere Regis – Bere Heath - Bloxworth – Morden - Wimborne (Tuesday) Bere Regis – Kingston – Zelstone – Sturminster Marshall – Wimborne (Tuesday) Zelstone – Kingston -Bere Regis – Dorchester (Wednesday) Bere Regis – Kingston - Lytchett Matravers – Wareham (presumed Thursday for market but discontinued by 1933). One   might   wonder   if   there   were   enough   passengers   in   the   area   to   warrant   a   competitive   operation,   but   this   was   good   bus   operating   territory.      Bere Regis   is   a   substantial   village   surrounded   by   a   circle   of   market   towns   within   a   ten   to   twelve   mile   radius,   and   there   was   a   long   previous   history   of   horse drawn   carrier   operations   stretching   back   over   the   years.      In   1930   two   Chevrolets   joined   the   fleet   to   supplement   the   Model   T.      In   the   same   year   Toop the market day routes of  James Ironside of Winfrith were acquired: Winfrith – East Knighton – East Burton – Wool –Wareham (Thursday) Winfrith – East Knighton – Broadmayne – Dorchester (Wednesday and Saturday) Winfrith – East Knighton – Poxwell – Weymouth (Saturday evening service added by Toop to existing Tuesday and Friday service) A   picture   from   1936.   Shortly   after   Mr   Ironside   joined   with   Mr   Toop,   beside   their   Leyland   Bus   YG7085   while   out   on   a   coach   trip.   At   the   left   is   Bill   Ironside and on the right Fred Hann, the driver, who was later a publican in Wimborne. From   reports   in   the   local   press   at   the   time,   Toop's   operations   were   alleged   to   sometimes   run   with   a   scant   regard   for   such   niceties   as   the   route specified   in   his   road   service   licence!      In   March   1936   the   daily   route   between   Poole,   Morden,   Bloxworth,   Bere   Regis   and   Dorchester,   established   in   1926, was brought into the growing business when Davis of Bloxworth joined the partnership.  These were the routes run by Davis: Morden – Bloxworth - Bere Regis – Kingston – Almer – Lytchett Matravers – Wimborne (Tuesday) Bloxworth – Morden – Wareham (Thursday) Morden – Bloxworth - Bere Regis – Kingston – Almer – Spetisbury – Blandford (Thursday) Poole – Lytchett Matravers – Morden – Bloxworth – Bere Regis – Dorchester (weekdays Poole – Bere Regis; Wednesday and Saturday on from Bere Regis to Dorchester) Hants   &   Dorset   had   considered   purchasing   the   Davis   business,   but   the   purchase   did   not   proceed   because   the   revenue   on   the   main   Poole-Dorchester route was below cost and unsustainable.  After the negotiations failed the frequency of the service was reduced. A few months later Bill Ironside (whose father's routes from Winfrith had been acquired by Toop six years earlier) also joined the business as a partner. Bill Ironside in 1936 Bill   had   driven   for   his   father   Jim   since   the   age   of   15,   and   was   to   become   the   driving   force   in   developing   and   running   the   Bere   Regis   &   District   business.     With   the   setting   up   of   the   partnership   there   was   some   rationalisation   of   the   routes,   which   were   intertwined   to   some   degree.      These   are   the   1936 routes, together with the road service licence numbers allocated to them by the Western Traffic Area office: Bere Regis – Bere Heath - Bloxworth – Morden – Lytchett Matravers -Wimborne (Tuesday)  H4174 Winfrith – East Knighton – East Burton – Wool –Wareham (Thursday)  H4175 Bere Regis - Kingston - Zelstone – Worlds End – Morden – Poole (once Monday and Friday, three Saturday, four Sunday)  H4176      Winfrith – East Knighton – Broadmayne – Dorchester (Wednesday and Saturday)          H4177 Winfrith – East Knighton – Poxwell – Weymouth (Saturday and Public Holidays)            H4178 Zelstone – Kingston -Bere Regis – Dorchester (Wednesday)  H4179 Bere Regis – Bere Heath – Wareham (Thursday and Saturday)  H4204 Poole – Lytchett Matravers – Morden – Bloxworth – Bere Regis (four times each weekday)  H4205        Bere Regis – Affpuddle - Dorchester (Wednesday and Saturday)  H4205 Click the images above to look at the 1936 Timetables Between   them   the   three   partners,   Reg   Toop,   Percy   Davis   and   Bill   Ironside,   expanded   the   fledgling   enterprise   -   largely   by   acquisition   of   other businesses,   especially   during   the   Second   World   War   -   from   pre-war   market   day   services   to   an   extensive   post-war   rural and    interurban    network    with    regular    daily    routes    serving    Dorchester,    Sherborne,    Yeovil,    Sturminster    Newton, Shaftesbury,   Blandford   and   Poole.         The   first   wartime   acquisition   was   the   business   of   W   J   Laws   in   June   1940,   and   his route   from   Briantspuddle,   Tolpuddle   and   Puddletown   to   Dorchester   was   added   to   the   growing   network.      During   the   war the   smaller   operators   faced   many   difficulties;   extra   passengers   had   to   be   carried,   a   scarcity   of   fuel   and   resources,   and time   expired   vehicles   in   need   of   replacement.         Bere   Regis   and   District   Motor   Services   were   ever   ready   to   buy   up   routes to   expand   their   network.      (A   full   list   of   operators   taken   over   is   here).      After   the   war   the   medley   of   radial   village   services was   melded   into   a   comprehensive   network   of   interurban   services   across   mid-Dorset.      From   a   one   vehicle   operation   in   1929,   by   1945   the   fleet   size   had reached 40 vehicles. It   was   also   now   necessary   to   turn   attention   to   renewing   the   vehicle   fleet.      This   started   in   1946   with   the   delivery   of   ten   new   Bedford   OB's   as   well   as   a mix   of   second   hand   vehicles,   including   two   ex-Chester   Leyland   Titan   TD4s,   AFM518/519,   which   were   the   firm's   first   double-deckers.      These   were usually   employed   on   the   Bere   Regis   -   Poole,   Bere   Regis   -   Dorchester   and   Dorchester   -   Sherborne   routes   (services   1,   1a,   2   and   4   in   the   1949   list   of routes   reproduced   below).         A   further   Titan   TD2   YG710   followed   in   1948,   and   it   is   thought   three   ex-London   STLs   were   acquired   in   1954.      The   only   other double   deckers   operated   by   the   company   were   two   more   modern   looking   1947   Leyland   PD1s   that   were   acquired   in   1949   from   Hants   &   Sussex (FCG526/527) and were in the fleet until 1960. In   the   post   war   years,   the   routes   from   Dorchester   to   Sherborne   and   from   Bere   Regis   to   Poole   were   busy   enough   to   warrant   double   deck   operation.     Waiting   at   the   Kingland   Road   terminus   in   Poole,   on   route   1   to   Bere   Regis   via   Lytchett   Matravers   and   Bloxworth,   is   a   rather   dirty   Leyland   Titan   TD4 AFM519   (see   below).      This   was   of   1936   vintage   and   was   one   half   of   a   pair   purchased   in   1946   from   Chester.      I   used   to   see   the   lunchtime   departure   from Poole to Bere Regis on a daily basis when I attended Poole Grammar School, until the Poole routes passed to Hants and Dorset in 1959. Another   regular   performer   was   ex-Hants   &   Sussex   FCG527   (see   below),   seen   here   at   the   other   end   of   route   1,   freshly   washed   and   glistening   in   the sunshine   in   the   Bere   Regis   depot   yard.         This   was   a   Leyland   PD1   with   Northern   Coachbuilders   55-seater   lowbridge   body,   and   was   new   to   Hants   & Sussex in 1947. The   route   map   below   shows   the   network   of   Bere   Regis   bus   routes   in   1956.      Many   of   the   routes   on   the   map   are   market-day   type   services   only   running on   one   or   two   days   a   week.      The   daily   routes   were   1   Poole   -   Bere   Regis,   1A   Bere   Regis   -   Dorchester,   4   Dorchester   -   Sherborne,   5   Dorchester   -   Yeovil,   6 Dorchester   -   Sturminster   Newton,   16   Blandford   -   Okeford   Fitzpaine,   17   Shaftesbury   -   Woolland   and   18   Yeovil   -   Sturminster   Newton.      (NB   Some   of   the services   have   been   renumbered   from   those   given   in   the   list   of   routes   from   the   1949   timetable   above,   as   by   1956   routes      7         20         22         24         28      29         33            34     and      35   had   been   withdrawn   (using   the   1949   numbers!)).      Note   also   that   Wimborne   is   no   longer   served   by   any   bus   route   (although   there   was   still   a garage there at the time).   The motif illustrated was used by Bere Regis for many years. Click the image above to look at the Map of the Bere Regis Bus Routes in 1956 The   vehicles   were   painted   in   a   livery   of   mid   and   dark   brown,   from   which   came   the   'brown   bombers'   nickname   we   used   as   children   in   Dorset.      The livery   came   from   the   three   partners,   the   dark   brown   from   Toop,   the   other   brown   from   Ironside   and   the   red   around   the   windows   from   Davis   (whose own   buses   had   been   red).      The   halcyon   years   for   bus   operations   were   post-war   in   the   late   1940's   and   early   1950's.      There   were   also   substantial numbers   of   school   and   works   contracts   as   well   as   a   wide   range   of   private   hire   work.      As   the   years   went   by,      the   coaching   types   of   operation   would become   progressively   more   important   than   bus   services.         In   July   1959   the   daily   trunk   services   from   Bere   Regis   to   Poole   (routes   1   and   2)   and Dorchester   (routes   1a   and   3)   were   sold   to   Hants   &   Dorset,   who   had   also   operated   over   the   1   and   2   routes   for   many   years   with   their   services   91   and   90 respectively   (inherited   from   the   George   Vacher   takeover   in   1930).      Tickets   of   the   two   companies   had   not   been   interavailable.      Whereas   Bere   Regis   had provided   the   majority   of   the   timings   on   the   route   to   Poole   via   Bloxworth   (1   /   91),   the   opposite   was   true   on   the   route   via      Kingston   and   Zelstone   (2   /   90).     H&D   increased   the   frequency   of   their   timings   to   compensate   for   the   loss   of   the   Bere   Regis   services,   and   also   introduced   new   route   11a   from   Bere Regis   to   Dorchester   to   replace   the   old   1a   and   3.         By   now   the   focus   of   Bere   Regis   operations   had   moved   away   from   the   village   in   which   it   had   been founded, westwards towards the county town of Dorchester - a town which had always been at the centre of independent bus operation in Dorset. Bere Regis Buses 1949 Timetable Booklet This   was   the   first   postwar   booklet   that   was   issued   for   the   network   of   services   that   had   been   built   up,   largely   through   acquisitions   of   various   business during   the   war   years.      Many   of   the   previous   'radial'   market   services   had   been   combined   into   interurban   routes,   eg   Dorchester   -   Sherborne.      The   map on the front cover shows the many parts of Dorset reached by the firm's 35 routes - which are shown in the list of Stage Services below. Click the images above to have a look at the 1949 Timetable Booklet By   1961   the   fleet   size   had   grown   to   92   vehicles   including   AEC   Regal   (plus   a   solitary   Reliance);   Bedford   OB   and   SB   (also   two   OWB's);   Commer,   Daimler, Dennis   and   Maudslay;   and   Leyland   Tigers,   Tiger   Cubs   and   Royal   Tigers   -   but   still   with   a   preponderance   of   second   hand   vehicles.      This   grand   total   of   92 included   5   minibus   11-seaters   (two   Bedford   CAV   /   Martin   Walker   and   three   Morris   J2),   all   the   other   vehicles   in   the   fleet   at   this   time   were   coaches   except for   one   solitary   bus,   LWR377,   a   1951   36-seater   Duple   bodied   Daimler   Freeline,   which   had   come   to   Bere   Regis   from   Ledgards   of   Yorkshire   in   1960.     Twelve of the fourteen Bedford SB's had Plaxton bodies and were new to the firm in 1959 and 1960. A   new   central   depot   and   workshop   were   established   in   1964   on   the   Poundbury   Industrial   Estate   in   Dorchester,   as   successor   to   the   original   Bridport Road   base   in   the   county   town   (which   had   been   acquired   when   Whitty's   business   was   taken   over   in   1942).      By   1966   there   were   89   vehicles   in   the   by   now exclusively   single   deck   fleet   -   of   which   58   were   Bedfords.      Still   over   sixty   per   cent   were   second   hand   purchases   and   the   policy   at   the   time   was   to   run vehicles   into   the   ground.      During   the   1960's   and   1970's   some   of   the   long   established   bus   routes   were   withdrawn   and   operations   handed   over   to   other operators   on   the   same   road,   eg   Ironside's   original   service   Dorchester   -   Winfrith   -   East   Knighton   passed   to   Dorset   Queen   in   1965   and   Dorchester   - Frampton passed to Pearce in 1975. Development of the Bere Regis & District Bus service network from 1949 to 1979 Percy   Davis   was   the   first   of   the   three   partners   to   die,   on   19th   May   1964   aged   56,   and   he   is   buried   in   St   Andrews   churchyard   in   Bloxworth.      Next   to   go   to the   big   bus   garage   in   the   sky   in   1970   was   the   firm's   Managing   Partner   for   many   years,   Bill   Ironside.      This   left   the   firm   in   the   hands   of   the   original founder   Reg   Toop,   who   as   last   of   the   three   partners   died   in   1973.      Reg   is   remembered   by   Mervyn   House   of   Mid-Dorset   Coaches   as   someone   who would   help   anybody.      Following   Reg's   death,   during   the   1970's   and   1980's,   whilst   the   trading   name   remained   Bere   Regis   &   District,   the   operating licences   were   held   in   the   name   of   'the   trustees   of   R   W   Toop   deceased'.      Reg's   widow   Ethel   left   the   day-to-day   management   of   the   business   in   the capable   hands   of   Traffic   Manager   Maurice   Crocker   (who   died   in   1982)   and   General   Manager   Ray   Roper,   both   of   whom   had   worked   for   the   firm   for many many years. One   Ford   Model   T   14   seater   -   from   these   humble   beginnings   on   29th   October   1929   this   organisation   grew   to   be   the   largest   independent   operator   in the   county   of   Dorset   in   postwar   years.         The   initial   routes   operated   by   founder   Reg   Toop   were   four   in   number,   namely   Bere   Regis   -   Kingston   -   Zelstone   - Poole,   Bere   Regis   -   Wareham,   Bere   Regis   -   Bloxworth   -   Wimborne   and   Zelstone   -   Bere   Regis   -   Dorchester.      In   1930   two   Chevrolets   joined   the   fleet   to supplement   the   Model   T.      In   the   same   year   Toop   acquired   the   market   day   routes   of      James   Ironside   of   Winfrith,   running   from   Winfrith   to   Wareham   on Thursdays, Dorchester on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a Saturday service to Weymouth.  In   March   1936   the   daily   route   between   Poole,   Morden,   Bloxworth,   Bere   Regis   and   Dorchester,   established   by   Israel   Davis   of   Bloxworth   in   1926,   was brought   into   the   growing   business   when   his   son   Percy   Davis   joined   with   Toop   to   form   a   partnership.   A   few   months   later   Bill   Ironside   (whose   father's routes   from   Winfrith   had   been   acquired   by   Toop   six   years   earlier)   also   joined   the   business   as   a   partner.      Between   them   the   three   partners,   Reg   Toop, Percy   Davis   and   Bill   Ironside,      expanded   the   fledgling   enterprise   -   largely   by   acquisition   of   other   businesses,   especially   during   the   Second   World   War   - from   pre-war   market   day   services   to   an   extensive   post-war   rural   and   interurban   network   with   regular   daily   routes   serving   Dorchester,   Sherborne, Yeovil,   Sturminster   Newton,   Shaftesbury,   Blandford   and   Poole.      Their   1949   timetable   booklet   showed   the   complete   network   of   thirty   five   routes   -   some ran daily and some ran once a week to market.  A list of the operators acquired by Bere Regis & District over the years One   Ford   Model   T   14   seater   -   from   these   humble   beginnings   on   29th   October   1929   this   organisation   grew   to   be   the   largest   independent   operator   in the   county   of   Dorset   in   postwar   years.         The   initial   routes   operated   by   founder   Reg   Toop   were   four   in   number,   namely   Bere   Regis   -   Kingston   -   Zelstone   - Poole,   Bere   Regis   -   Wareham,   Bere   Regis   -   Bloxworth   -   Wimborne   and   Zelstone   -   Bere   Regis   -   Dorchester.      In   1930   two   Chevrolets   joined   the   fleet   to supplement   the   Model   T.      In   the   same   year   Toop   acquired   the   market   day   routes   of      James   Ironside   of   Winfrith,   running   from   Winfrith   to   Wareham   on Thursdays, Dorchester on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a Saturday service to Weymouth.  In   March   1936   the   daily   route   between   Poole,   Morden,   Bloxworth,   Bere   Regis   and   Dorchester,   established   by   Israel   Davis   of   Bloxworth   in   1926,   was brought   into   the   growing   business   when   his   son   Percy   Davis   joined   with   Toop   to   form   a   partnership.   A   few   months   later   Bill   Ironside   (whose   father's routes   from   Winfrith   had   been   acquired   by   Toop   six   years   earlier)   also   joined   the   business   as   a   partner.      Between   them   the   three   partners,   Reg   Toop, Percy   Davis   and   Bill   Ironside,      expanded   the   fledgling   enterprise   -   largely   by   acquisition   of   other   businesses,   especially   during   the   Second   World   War   - from   pre-war   market   day   services   to   an   extensive   post-war   rural   and   interurban   network   with   regular   daily   routes   serving   Dorchester,   Sherborne, Yeovil,   Sturminster   Newton,   Shaftesbury,   Blandford   and   Poole.      Their   1949   timetable   booklet   showed   the   complete   network   of   thirty   five   routes   -   some ran daily and some ran once a week to market. Click image above for a list of operators over the years With thanks and grateful acknowledgement to Ryan Carpenter and Roger Grimley Bere   Regis   celebrated   its   50th   anniversary   in   1979,   and   the   remaining   core   network   of   bus   routes   was   to   continue   largely   unchanged   until   the     deregulation   of   buses   in   1986.      By   then   the   overall   fleet   size   was   83   vehicles,   garaged   at   Dorchester   (which   had   been   the   head   office   for   many   years), Bere   Regis,   Blandford,   Hazelbury   Bryan,   Sherborne,   Wimborne   and   Weymouth.      Private   hire,   contract   work   and   tours   had   become   more   important than   bus   operation   over   the   years   and   at   the   time   of   bus   deregulation   in   1986   only   a   few   services   were   registered   to   run   commercially   without   benefit of   council   subsidy   (Bovington   -   Crossways   -   Dorchester   and   Duntish   -   Piddle   Valley   -   Dorchester).      Thus   several   of   Bere   Regis'   traditional   routes   were lost   to   other   operators   as   part   of   the   county   council's   competitive   tendering   process.         The   Dorchester   -   Sherborne   trunk   route   passed   to   a   very unlikely   named   operator,   Air   Camelot   of   Wincanton,   whilst   another   important   route   Blandford   -   Sturminster   Newton   route   went   to   Oakfield   Travel   of Blandford.  Click the image above to see Colin Miller's reminiscences of when his father drove for Bere Regis In   1989,   Bere   Regis   introduced   a   town   service   in   Dorchester.      Although   based   in   the   town,   their   bus   operations   had   always   been   on   village   and interurban   routes,   and   they   had   not   previously   operated   locally   within   the   county   town.   The   town   services   had   been   operated   initially   by   private operators   who   succumbed   to   Southern   National   in   the   1930's;   in   the   1980's   the   town   services   were   operated   for   several   years   by   Interbus,   an operating   arm   of   Barrys   Coaches   of   Weymouth,   before   reverting   to   Western   National   (as   Southern   National   had   by   then   become).      Other   successful Bere   Regis   operations   at   this   time   included   considerable   works   contract   operations   for   BP   to   and   from   the   Wytch   oilfield   in   Purbeck,   involving   up   to   25 vehicles   at   the   peak,   and   a   daily   express   coach   service   to   London   from   1983.      The   express   service   continues   to   this   day,   albeit   under   the   First   Dorset Transit banner (operation passed to Bluebird of Weymouth from November 2003). Ray   Roper   retired   in   1993   and   Henry   Frier   succeeded   him.      The   Bere   Regis   firm   survived   as   a   complete   entity   until   1994   when   most   of   the   operations and   the   Dorchester   base   were   sold   to   Dorchester   Coachways   /   West   Dorset   Coaches   -   a   new   firm   which   was   part   of   the   Cawlett   group   who   also controlled   Southern   National.      A   small   nucleus   of   private   hire   vehicles   remained   under   the   Bere   Regis   Coaches   name,   operated   by   Reg   Toop's   daughter Sandra   Wylie   and   her   husband   Alex.         These   were   garaged   in   Wimborne   and   controlled   from   an   office   in   Blandford.      Whilst   the   operations   disposed   of in   Dorchester   and   west   Dorset   prospered   -   and   passed   with   the   Cawlett   group   to   the   First   Group   in   1999,   now   operating   in   the   year   2000   under   the trading   name   First   Dorchester   -   those   at   Blandford   did   not,   and   regrettably   the   proud   name   of   Bere   Regis   Coaches   faded   away   on   30th   September 1995 after 66 years travelling the highways and byways of rural Dorset. General Manager Ray Roper pictured on his 70th birthday in 1989 From   April   2001,   the   headquarters   of   the   Bere   Regis   firm   -   which   had   been   in   Dorchester   for   many   years   past,   firstly   at   Bridport   Road   and   then   in   the old   barracks   on   The   Grove   trading   estate   -   were   closed.      The   premises   in   The   Grove   had   passed   to   Dorchester   Coachways   in   1994   and   then   in   1999   to their   successors   First   Dorchester.      The   link   was   finally   broken   on   22nd   April   with   the   closure   of   First   Dorchester   and   the   transfer   of   the   vehicles   and drivers to operate from First Southern National's Weymouth depot. Sadly the long time Bere Regis general manager Ray Roper died in retirement in May 2001 at the age of 81. Click the clipping below to read the press report on the end of Bere Regis Coaches in 1995...

The History of the Bere

Regis Bus Co. 1929 - 1995

 Bere Regis Village website
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.
Bere Regis Village
Bere Regis Village Website

The History of the Bere Regis Bus Co. 1929 - 1995

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The    material    in    this    section    has    been    researched    by    Peter    Roberts, Roger   Grimley   &   Henry   Frier.   If   you   wish   to   find   out   more   please   visit the   Country   Bus   Website   here .         Thank   you   for   all   your   hard   work   & dedication in collating it all. From   humble   beginnings   on   29th   October   1929   -   when   a   bus   driver called   Reg   Toop   decided   to   leave   his   employer   George   Vacher   and   set up   in   business   on   his   own   in   competition   against   him   with   a   Ford   Model T    14-seater    -    this    organisation    grew    to    be    the    largest    independent operator    in    the    county    of    Dorset    in    postwar    years.            Whether    by coincidence    or    as    consequence,    Vacher    sold    his    business    to    the expanding     Hants     &     Dorset     Motor     Services     in     August     1930,     and remained    in    their    employ    as    the    local    inspector    for    many    years afterwards.      He   died   in   1958   at   the   age   of   71.      Vacher   had   originally traded   as   Bere   Regis   Motor   Services   -   the   name   that   Toop   then   acquired almost   by   default   when   it   became   available,   changing   it   to   Bere   Regis   & District, having previously traded as Pioneer! Reg Toop Vacher   had   operated   from   his   home   village   of   Bere   Regis   since   horse drawn   days   and   acquired   his   first   motor   bus   in   1919.      This   was   used   on routes   to   Dorchester   on   Wednesdays   and   Saturdays   and   to   Poole   on Mondays   and   Thursdays.      By   1927   there   were   two   motor   vehicles   and additional     routes     were     being     run     to     Blandford,     Bournemouth, Wimborne   and   Wareham.      With   regards   to   the   latter   destination,   Harry Farr    was    running    to    Wareham    from    Bere    Regis    on    Thursdays    and Saturdays too, since at least 1920. The   Photo   at   top   is   of   George   Vacher's   Bere   Regis   Motor   Service   from the   late   1920's.   The   charabanc   was   carrying   27   people,   plus   the   driver. The   driver,   in   the   peaked   cap   is   Reg   Toop,   who   in   1929   went   on   to establish    Bere    Regis    Motor    Services,    which    rapidly    built    into    a    large enterprise across Dorset. Toop   drove   for   Vacher   from   the   age   of   14.      To   start   his   own   business and   buy   his   first   bus,   he   borrowed   money   from   several   people   in   Bere Regis,   including   Doctor   Liss   and   Applin   the   butcher.   The   initial   routes operated by Toop were: Bere   Regis   -   Kingston   -   Zelstone   –   Lytchett   Matravers   –   Poole   (once   on Monday and Friday, four times on Saturday and Sunday) Bere Regis – Bere Heath – Wareham (Thursday and Saturday) Bere Regis – Bere Heath - Bloxworth – Morden - Wimborne (Tuesday) Bere   Regis   –   Kingston   –   Zelstone   –   Sturminster   Marshall   –   Wimborne (Tuesday) Zelstone – Kingston -Bere Regis – Dorchester (Wednesday) Bere    Regis    –    Kingston    -    Lytchett    Matravers    –    Wareham    (presumed Thursday for market but discontinued by 1933). One    might    wonder    if    there    were    enough    passengers    in    the    area    to warrant    a    competitive    operation,    but    this    was    good    bus    operating territory.      Bere   Regis   is   a   substantial   village   surrounded   by   a   circle   of market   towns   within   a   ten   to   twelve   mile   radius,   and   there   was   a   long previous   history   of   horse   drawn   carrier   operations   stretching   back   over the   years.      In   1930   two   Chevrolets   joined   the   fleet   to   supplement   the Model    T.        In    the    same    year    Toop    the    market    day    routes    of        James Ironside of Winfrith were acquired: Winfrith – East Knighton – East Burton – Wool –Wareham (Thursday) Winfrith   –   East   Knighton   –   Broadmayne   –   Dorchester   (Wednesday   and Saturday) Winfrith    –    East    Knighton    –    Poxwell    –    Weymouth    (Saturday    evening service added by Toop to existing Tuesday and Friday service) A   picture   from   1936.   Shortly   after   Mr   Ironside   joined   with   Mr   Toop, beside   their   Leyland   Bus   YG7085   while   out   on   a   coach   trip.   At   the   left   is Bill   Ironside   and   on   the   right   Fred   Hann,   the   driver,   who   was   later   a publican in Wimborne. From   reports   in   the   local   press   at   the   time,   Toop's   operations   were alleged   to   sometimes   run   with   a   scant   regard   for   such   niceties   as   the route   specified   in   his   road   service   licence!      In   March   1936   the   daily   route between     Poole,     Morden,     Bloxworth,     Bere     Regis     and     Dorchester, established   in   1926,   was   brought   into   the   growing   business   when   Davis of   Bloxworth   joined   the   partnership.      These   were   the   routes   run   by Davis: Morden    –    Bloxworth    -    Bere    Regis    –    Kingston    –    Almer    –    Lytchett Matravers – Wimborne (Tuesday) Bloxworth – Morden – Wareham (Thursday) Morden   –   Bloxworth   -   Bere   Regis   –   Kingston   –   Almer   –   Spetisbury   Blandford (Thursday) Poole    –    Lytchett    Matravers    –    Morden    –    Bloxworth    –    Bere    Regis    Dorchester (weekdays   Poole   –   Bere   Regis;   Wednesday   and   Saturday   on   from   Bere Regis to Dorchester) Hants   &   Dorset   had   considered   purchasing   the   Davis   business,   but   the purchase    did    not    proceed    because    the    revenue    on    the    main    Poole- Dorchester    route    was    below    cost    and    unsustainable.        After    the negotiations failed the frequency of the service was reduced. A   few   months   later   Bill   Ironside   (whose   father's   routes   from   Winfrith had   been   acquired   by   Toop   six   years   earlier)   also   joined   the   business   as a partner. Bill Ironside in 1936 Bill   had   driven   for   his   father   Jim   since   the   age   of   15,   and   was   to   become the   driving   force   in   developing   and   running   the   Bere   Regis   &   District business.        With    the    setting    up    of    the    partnership    there    was    some rationalisation   of   the   routes,   which   were   intertwined   to   some   degree.     These    are    the    1936    routes,    together    with    the    road    service    licence numbers allocated to them by the Western Traffic Area office: Bere   Regis   –   Bere   Heath   -   Bloxworth   –   Morden   –   Lytchett   Matravers   - Wimborne (Tuesday)  H4174 Winfrith   –   East   Knighton   –   East   Burton   –   Wool   –Wareham   (Thursday)     H4175 Bere   Regis   -   Kingston   -   Zelstone   –   Worlds   End   –   Morden   –   Poole   (once Monday and Friday, three Saturday, four Sunday)  H4176      Winfrith   –   East   Knighton   –   Broadmayne   –   Dorchester   (Wednesday   and Saturday)          H4177 Winfrith   –   East   Knighton   –   Poxwell   –   Weymouth   (Saturday   and   Public Holidays)            H4178 Zelstone – Kingston -Bere Regis – Dorchester (Wednesday)  H4179 Bere Regis – Bere Heath – Wareham (Thursday and Saturday)  H4204 Poole   –   Lytchett   Matravers   –   Morden   –   Bloxworth   –   Bere   Regis   (four times each weekday)  H4205        Bere Regis – Affpuddle - Dorchester (Wednesday and Saturday)  H4205 Click the images above to look at the 1936 Timetables Between    them    the    three    partners,    Reg    Toop,    Percy    Davis    and    Bill Ironside,   expanded   the   fledgling   enterprise   -   largely   by   acquisition   of other   businesses,   especially   during   the   Second   World   War   -   from   pre- war   market   day   services   to   an   extensive   post-war   rural   and   interurban network   with   regular   daily   routes   serving   Dorchester,   Sherborne,   Yeovil, Sturminster    Newton,    Shaftesbury,    Blandford    and    Poole.            The    first wartime   acquisition   was   the   business   of   W   J   Laws   in   June   1940,   and   his route   from   Briantspuddle,   Tolpuddle   and   Puddletown   to   Dorchester   was added   to   the   growing   network.      During   the   war   the   smaller   operators faced   many   difficulties;   extra   passengers had   to   be   carried,   a   scarcity   of   fuel   and resources,    and    time    expired    vehicles    in need   of   replacement.         Bere   Regis   and District   Motor   Services   were   ever   ready to     buy     up     routes     to     expand     their network.      (A   full   list   of   operators   taken over   is   here).      After   the   war   the   medley   of   radial   village   services   was melded   into   a   comprehensive   network   of   interurban   services   across mid-Dorset.      From   a   one   vehicle   operation   in   1929,   by   1945   the   fleet   size had reached 40 vehicles. It   was   also   now   necessary   to   turn   attention   to   renewing   the   vehicle   fleet.     This   started   in   1946   with   the   delivery   of   ten   new   Bedford   OB's   as   well   as a   mix   of   second   hand   vehicles,   including   two   ex-Chester   Leyland   Titan TD4s,   AFM518/519,   which   were   the   firm's   first   double-deckers.      These were    usually    employed    on    the    Bere    Regis    -    Poole,    Bere    Regis    - Dorchester   and   Dorchester   -   Sherborne   routes   (services   1,   1a,   2   and   4   in the   1949   list   of   routes   reproduced   below).         A   further   Titan   TD2   YG710 followed   in   1948,   and   it   is   thought   three   ex-London   STLs   were   acquired in   1954.      The   only   other   double   deckers   operated   by   the   company   were two   more   modern   looking   1947   Leyland   PD1s   that   were   acquired   in 1949   from   Hants   &   Sussex   (FCG526/527)   and   were   in   the   fleet   until 1960. In   the   post   war   years,   the   routes   from   Dorchester   to   Sherborne   and from   Bere   Regis   to   Poole   were   busy   enough   to   warrant   double   deck operation.      Waiting   at   the   Kingland   Road   terminus   in   Poole,   on   route   1 to   Bere   Regis   via   Lytchett   Matravers   and   Bloxworth,   is   a   rather   dirty Leyland   Titan   TD4   AFM519   (see   below).      This   was   of   1936   vintage   and was   one   half   of   a   pair   purchased   in   1946   from   Chester.      I   used   to   see the   lunchtime   departure   from   Poole   to   Bere   Regis   on   a   daily   basis   when I   attended   Poole   Grammar   School,   until   the   Poole   routes   passed   to Hants and Dorset in 1959. Another   regular   performer   was   ex-Hants   &   Sussex   FCG527   (see   below), seen   here   at   the   other   end   of   route   1,   freshly   washed   and   glistening   in the   sunshine   in   the   Bere   Regis   depot   yard.         This   was   a   Leyland   PD1   with Northern    Coachbuilders    55-seater    lowbridge    body,    and    was    new    to Hants & Sussex in 1947. The   route   map   below   shows   the   network   of   Bere   Regis   bus   routes   in 1956.      Many   of   the   routes   on   the   map   are   market-day   type   services   only running   on   one   or   two   days   a   week.      The   daily   routes   were   1   Poole   - Bere   Regis,   1A   Bere   Regis   -   Dorchester,   4   Dorchester   -   Sherborne,   5 Dorchester   -   Yeovil,   6   Dorchester   -   Sturminster   Newton,   16   Blandford   - Okeford     Fitzpaine,     17     Shaftesbury     -     Woolland     and     18     Yeovil     - Sturminster   Newton.      (NB   Some   of   the   services   have   been   renumbered from   those   given   in   the   list   of   routes   from   the   1949   timetable   above,   as by   1956   routes      7         20         22         24         28      29         33            34      and      35   had   been withdrawn   (using   the   1949   numbers!)).      Note   also   that   Wimborne   is   no longer   served   by   any   bus   route   (although   there   was   still   a   garage   there at   the   time).         The   motif   illustrated   was   used   by   Bere   Regis   for   many years. Click the image above to look at the Map of the Bere Regis Bus Routes in 1956 The   vehicles   were   painted   in   a   livery   of   mid   and   dark   brown,   from   which came   the   'brown   bombers'   nickname   we   used   as   children   in   Dorset.     The   livery   came   from   the   three   partners,   the   dark   brown   from   Toop,   the other   brown   from   Ironside   and   the   red   around   the   windows   from   Davis (whose   own   buses   had   been   red).      The   halcyon   years   for   bus   operations were   post-war   in   the   late   1940's   and   early   1950's.      There   were   also substantial   numbers   of   school   and   works   contracts   as   well   as   a   wide range   of   private   hire   work.      As   the   years   went   by,      the   coaching   types   of operation    would    become    progressively    more    important    than    bus services.         In   July   1959   the   daily   trunk   services   from   Bere   Regis   to   Poole (routes   1   and   2)   and   Dorchester   (routes   1a   and   3)   were   sold   to   Hants   & Dorset,   who   had   also   operated   over   the   1   and   2   routes   for   many   years with   their   services   91   and   90   respectively   (inherited   from   the   George Vacher   takeover   in   1930).      Tickets   of   the   two   companies   had   not   been interavailable.      Whereas   Bere   Regis   had   provided   the   majority   of   the timings   on   the   route   to   Poole   via   Bloxworth   (1   /   91),   the   opposite   was true   on   the   route   via      Kingston   and   Zelstone   (2   /   90).      H&D   increased   the frequency   of   their   timings   to   compensate   for   the   loss   of   the   Bere   Regis services,    and    also    introduced    new    route    11a    from    Bere    Regis    to Dorchester   to   replace   the   old   1a   and   3.         By   now   the   focus   of   Bere   Regis operations    had    moved    away    from    the    village    in    which    it    had    been founded,   westwards   towards   the   county   town   of   Dorchester   -   a   town which   had   always   been   at   the   centre   of   independent   bus   operation   in Dorset. Bere Regis Buses 1949 Timetable Booklet This   was   the   first   postwar   booklet   that   was   issued   for   the   network   of services   that   had   been   built   up,   largely   through   acquisitions   of   various business   during   the   war   years.      Many   of   the   previous   'radial'   market services   had   been   combined   into   interurban   routes,   eg   Dorchester   - Sherborne.      The   map   on   the   front   cover   shows   the   many   parts   of   Dorset reached   by   the   firm's   35   routes   -   which   are   shown   in   the   list   of   Stage Services below. Click the images above to have a look at the 1949 Timetable Booklet By   1961   the   fleet   size   had   grown   to   92   vehicles   including   AEC   Regal   (plus a    solitary    Reliance);    Bedford    OB    and    SB    (also    two    OWB's);    Commer, Daimler,    Dennis    and    Maudslay;    and    Leyland    Tigers,    Tiger    Cubs    and Royal   Tigers   -   but   still   with   a   preponderance   of   second   hand   vehicles.     This   grand   total   of   92   included   5   minibus   11-seaters   (two   Bedford   CAV   / Martin   Walker   and   three   Morris   J2),   all   the   other   vehicles   in   the   fleet   at this   time   were   coaches   except   for   one   solitary   bus,   LWR377,   a   1951   36- seater   Duple   bodied   Daimler   Freeline,   which   had   come   to   Bere   Regis from   Ledgards   of   Yorkshire   in   1960.      Twelve   of   the   fourteen   Bedford SB's had Plaxton bodies and were new to the firm in 1959 and 1960. A   new   central   depot   and   workshop   were   established   in   1964   on   the Poundbury   Industrial   Estate   in   Dorchester,   as   successor   to   the   original Bridport   Road   base   in   the   county   town   (which   had   been   acquired   when Whitty's    business    was    taken    over    in    1942).        By    1966    there    were    89 vehicles   in   the   by   now   exclusively   single   deck   fleet   -   of   which   58   were Bedfords.      Still   over   sixty   per   cent   were   second   hand   purchases   and   the policy   at   the   time   was   to   run   vehicles   into   the   ground.      During   the 1960's    and    1970's    some    of    the    long    established    bus    routes    were withdrawn   and   operations   handed   over   to   other   operators   on   the   same road,   eg   Ironside's   original   service   Dorchester   -   Winfrith   -   East   Knighton passed   to   Dorset   Queen   in   1965   and   Dorchester   -   Frampton   passed   to Pearce in 1975. Development   of   the   Bere   Regis   &   District   Bus   service   network   from   1949 to 1979 Percy   Davis   was   the   first   of   the   three   partners   to   die,   on   19th   May   1964 aged   56,   and   he   is   buried   in   St   Andrews   churchyard   in   Bloxworth.      Next to   go   to   the   big   bus   garage   in   the   sky   in   1970   was   the   firm's   Managing Partner   for   many   years,   Bill   Ironside.      This   left   the   firm   in   the   hands   of the   original   founder   Reg   Toop,   who   as   last   of   the   three   partners   died   in 1973.      Reg   is   remembered   by   Mervyn   House   of   Mid-Dorset   Coaches   as someone   who   would   help   anybody.      Following   Reg's   death,   during   the 1970's    and    1980's,    whilst    the    trading    name    remained    Bere    Regis    & District,   the   operating   licences   were   held   in   the   name   of   'the   trustees   of R   W   Toop   deceased'.      Reg's   widow   Ethel   left   the   day-to-day   management of   the   business   in   the   capable   hands   of   Traffic   Manager   Maurice   Crocker (who   died   in   1982)   and   General   Manager   Ray   Roper,   both   of   whom   had worked for the firm for many many years. One   Ford   Model   T   14   seater   -   from   these   humble   beginnings   on   29th October    1929    this    organisation    grew    to    be    the    largest    independent operator   in   the   county   of   Dorset   in   postwar   years.         The   initial   routes operated   by   founder   Reg   Toop   were   four   in   number,   namely   Bere   Regis -    Kingston    -    Zelstone    -    Poole,    Bere    Regis    -    Wareham,    Bere    Regis    - Bloxworth   -   Wimborne   and   Zelstone   -   Bere   Regis   -   Dorchester.      In   1930 two   Chevrolets   joined   the   fleet   to   supplement   the   Model   T.      In   the   same year   Toop   acquired   the   market   day   routes   of      James   Ironside   of   Winfrith, running    from    Winfrith    to    Wareham    on    Thursdays,    Dorchester    on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a Saturday service to Weymouth.  In   March   1936   the   daily   route   between   Poole,   Morden,   Bloxworth,   Bere Regis   and   Dorchester,   established   by   Israel   Davis   of   Bloxworth   in   1926, was   brought   into   the   growing   business   when   his   son   Percy   Davis   joined with   Toop   to   form   a   partnership.   A   few   months   later   Bill   Ironside   (whose father's    routes    from    Winfrith    had    been    acquired    by    Toop    six    years earlier)   also   joined   the   business   as   a   partner.      Between   them   the   three partners,    Reg    Toop,    Percy    Davis    and    Bill    Ironside,        expanded    the fledgling     enterprise     -     largely     by     acquisition     of     other     businesses, especially    during    the    Second    World    War    -    from    pre-war    market    day services   to   an   extensive   post-war   rural   and   interurban   network   with regular   daily   routes   serving   Dorchester,   Sherborne,   Yeovil,   Sturminster Newton,    Shaftesbury,    Blandford    and    Poole.        Their    1949    timetable booklet   showed   the   complete   network   of   thirty   five   routes   -   some   ran daily and some ran once a week to market.  A list of the operators acquired by Bere Regis & District over the years One   Ford   Model   T   14   seater   -   from   these   humble   beginnings   on   29th October    1929    this    organisation    grew    to    be    the    largest    independent operator   in   the   county   of   Dorset   in   postwar   years.         The   initial   routes operated   by   founder   Reg   Toop   were   four   in   number,   namely   Bere   Regis -    Kingston    -    Zelstone    -    Poole,    Bere    Regis    -    Wareham,    Bere    Regis    - Bloxworth   -   Wimborne   and   Zelstone   -   Bere   Regis   -   Dorchester.      In   1930 two   Chevrolets   joined   the   fleet   to   supplement   the   Model   T.      In   the   same year   Toop   acquired   the   market   day   routes   of      James   Ironside   of   Winfrith, running    from    Winfrith    to    Wareham    on    Thursdays,    Dorchester    on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a Saturday service to Weymouth.  In   March   1936   the   daily   route   between   Poole,   Morden,   Bloxworth,   Bere Regis   and   Dorchester,   established   by   Israel   Davis   of   Bloxworth   in   1926, was   brought   into   the   growing   business   when   his   son   Percy   Davis   joined with   Toop   to   form   a   partnership.   A   few   months   later   Bill   Ironside   (whose father's    routes    from    Winfrith    had    been    acquired    by    Toop    six    years earlier)   also   joined   the   business   as   a   partner.      Between   them   the   three partners,    Reg    Toop,    Percy    Davis    and    Bill    Ironside,        expanded    the fledgling     enterprise     -     largely     by     acquisition     of     other     businesses, especially    during    the    Second    World    War    -    from    pre-war    market    day services   to   an   extensive   post-war   rural   and   interurban   network   with regular   daily   routes   serving   Dorchester,   Sherborne,   Yeovil,   Sturminster Newton,    Shaftesbury,    Blandford    and    Poole.        Their    1949    timetable booklet   showed   the   complete   network   of   thirty   five   routes   -   some   ran daily and some ran once a week to market. Click image above for a list of operators over the years With thanks and grateful acknowledgement to Ryan Carpenter and Roger Grimley Bere   Regis   celebrated   its   50th   anniversary   in   1979,   and   the   remaining core   network   of   bus   routes   was   to   continue   largely   unchanged   until   the     deregulation   of   buses   in   1986.      By   then   the   overall   fleet   size   was   83 vehicles,   garaged   at   Dorchester   (which   had   been   the   head   office   for many    years),    Bere    Regis,    Blandford,    Hazelbury    Bryan,    Sherborne, Wimborne   and   Weymouth.      Private   hire,   contract   work   and   tours   had become   more   important   than   bus   operation   over   the   years   and   at   the time   of   bus   deregulation   in   1986   only   a   few   services   were   registered   to run    commercially    without    benefit    of    council    subsidy    (Bovington    - Crossways   -   Dorchester   and   Duntish   -   Piddle   Valley   -   Dorchester).      Thus several   of   Bere   Regis'   traditional   routes   were   lost   to   other   operators   as part    of    the    county    council's    competitive    tendering    process.            The Dorchester   -   Sherborne   trunk   route   passed   to   a   very   unlikely   named operator,    Air    Camelot    of    Wincanton,    whilst    another    important    route Blandford    -    Sturminster    Newton    route    went    to    Oakfield    Travel    of Blandford.  Click the image above to see Colin Miller's reminiscences of when his father drove for Bere Regis In   1989,   Bere   Regis   introduced   a   town   service   in   Dorchester.      Although based   in   the   town,   their   bus   operations   had   always   been   on   village   and interurban   routes,   and   they   had   not   previously   operated   locally   within the    county    town.    The    town    services    had    been    operated    initially    by private   operators   who   succumbed   to   Southern   National   in   the   1930's;   in the    1980's    the    town    services    were    operated    for    several    years    by Interbus,    an    operating    arm    of    Barrys    Coaches    of    Weymouth,    before reverting    to    Western    National    (as    Southern    National    had    by    then become).      Other   successful   Bere   Regis   operations   at   this   time   included considerable   works   contract   operations   for   BP   to   and   from   the   Wytch oilfield   in   Purbeck,   involving   up   to   25   vehicles   at   the   peak,   and   a   daily express    coach    service    to    London    from    1983.        The    express    service continues    to    this    day,    albeit    under    the    First    Dorset    Transit    banner (operation passed to Bluebird of Weymouth from November 2003). Ray   Roper   retired   in   1993   and   Henry   Frier   succeeded   him.      The   Bere Regis   firm   survived   as   a   complete   entity   until   1994   when   most   of   the operations   and   the   Dorchester   base   were   sold   to   Dorchester   Coachways /   West   Dorset   Coaches   -   a   new   firm   which   was   part   of   the   Cawlett   group who   also   controlled   Southern   National.      A   small   nucleus   of   private   hire vehicles   remained   under   the   Bere   Regis   Coaches   name,   operated   by Reg   Toop's   daughter   Sandra   Wylie   and   her   husband   Alex.         These   were garaged   in   Wimborne   and   controlled   from   an   office   in   Blandford.      Whilst the   operations   disposed   of   in   Dorchester   and   west   Dorset   prospered   - and   passed   with   the   Cawlett   group   to   the   First   Group   in   1999,   now operating   in   the   year   2000   under   the   trading   name   First   Dorchester   - those   at   Blandford   did   not,   and   regrettably   the   proud   name   of   Bere Regis    Coaches    faded    away    on    30th    September    1995    after    66    years travelling the highways and byways of rural Dorset. General Manager Ray Roper pictured on his 70th birthday in 1989 From   April   2001,   the   headquarters   of   the   Bere   Regis   firm   -   which   had been   in   Dorchester   for   many   years   past,   firstly   at   Bridport   Road   and then   in   the   old   barracks   on   The   Grove   trading   estate   -   were   closed.      The premises   in   The   Grove   had   passed   to   Dorchester   Coachways   in   1994 and   then   in   1999   to   their   successors   First   Dorchester.      The   link   was finally   broken   on   22nd   April   with   the   closure   of   First   Dorchester   and   the transfer    of    the    vehicles    and    drivers    to    operate    from    First    Southern National's Weymouth depot. Sadly    the    long    time    Bere    Regis    general    manager    Ray    Roper    died    in retirement in May 2001 at the age of 81. Click   the   clipping   below   to   read   the   press   report   on   the   end   of   Bere Regis Coaches in 1995...
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