Reminiscences of Saturdays in Dorchester
My memories drift back to the years 1959-1961 when, whilst living at Winterborne Abbas, my father joined Bere Regis and became a bus driver. He also did his fair share of driving the taxis also and I can clearly remember him driving the Austin FX3 model on many occasions. For some strange reason I recall Bere Regis having two (I think) Renault Dauphines (blue and red if my memory serves me right although it was a long time ago).
He drove the 29 & 33 seater Bedford OBs that were on the fleet at the time and nearly always had the Dorchester - Bridport run on a Saturday. That old bus would wind it's way through all the villages...Martinstown, Steepleton, Winterborne Abbas, Little Bredy, Long Bredy, Litton Cheney, Pucknowle and so on ending up in the Café Royal car park at Bridport where there would be a rest and then return again.
I used to love riding up the front and would go back and forth with him all day (I was only 7 at the time). Lunch time would find a lot of buses in the council park in Trinity Street Dorchester where they would come and go at various times but somehow manage to be there most of the Saturday afternoons.
Our bus would always park in the same position at the end of the park facing the road next to a privately owned Bedford OB (two tone green with lovely shiny chrome front wheel caps) that was owned by a gentleman named Wilcox from Litton Cheney.
I can remember listening to the conkers (from large horse chestnut trees behind a wall at the back of the bus) falling on the roof of the bus in the autumn and several of the drivers sitting in the café opposite or drinking in the New Inn pub located in South Street (long gone now). There was also a single decker AEC (I think) with a fin (certainly - I think it was called a Harrington fin but I may be wrong) on the rear of the roof also owned by Bere Regis that would park by the shelter.
The bus companies that you mentioned... Pearce, House, etc and the buses.. Bedfords, Commers etc I can vividly remember them as though it were yesterday just as I can remember a lot of the drivers and see their faces and names and of course sitting up the front of the OB listening to the whiney gearbox and shivering due to the fact that the heater was either none existent or didn't work, watching my legs changing colour as my short trousers struggled to keep me warm.
And then just by magic in the late afternoon all the buses would leave the park and follow in convoy up Trinity Street whereby at the end one would see the little direction indicator arrows suddenly illuminate under the back window and each and every one would take the weary shoppers home to their village abodes whereby they would light the coal fires and settle in for the evening.
On our return my father would park his bus in the Bere Regis bus park and we would walk to the office in the dark (me looking at the Regent petrol sign that lit up the pumps by the office), and wait whilst he would clock out, then home to Winterborne Abbas and for me.....bed.
Sadly it is a bygone era and I view it with rose coloured spectacles. I'm so glad I was there, and I'm glad Peter you gave me this chance to remember those happy days.
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