PASSENGER WITH PEARCE
Reminiscences of some rural rides
This company had long interested me. I had first made acquaintance with the buses and coaches of the Pearce fleet in 1952. My dad had just bought his first car (EOX892, a black Vauxhall 8) and he took us out on a country drive to Cattistock, where he had been stationed in the early days of the last war. We stopped for petrol at the village garage, and I noticed several coaches parked in the corrugated iron sheds alongside. With my schoolboy thirst for knowledge, I asked for a timetable. Unfortunately none was available but I was taken into the office where a list of their routes was written out for me. I remember being enthralled by the racks of multi-coloured Bell punch tickets on the office wall .........
In 1971 I had the opportunity to take the occasional ride on Pearce's buses. My friend Bo and I determined to spend a full day getting to know the routes better. So one summer Saturday in 1972, having driven over from home in Poole, we parked the car in Dorchester and stand waiting at the Top o'Town stop for the 8.55 departure on Pearce's route through to Yeovil. Regular performer YET600 pulls up with driver Peter, and we board and pay our fares. There are three other passengers, one is going to Maiden Newton and the other two are visiting friends in Rampisham. So far we are the only people going right through to Yeovil, until two more passengers get on in Maiden Newton. No fares are taken from the newcomers, they are told to pay on the other bus. What other bus - isn't this bus going through to Yeovil after all? Well no it isn't - we have to change buses at Cattistock garage, where Harold and YDL752 are waiting to take us further north. Six passengers and a conductress board the bus in Evershot, and a further nine people are waiting for us in Melbury. By the time we run into Yeovil past the Quicksilver Mail Hotel for our 10.24 arrival we have become a party of twenty three (including Bo and me).
|Bedford SB Duple Super Vega YET600 waiting at Dorchester Council Yard|
Having arrived in Yeovil by bus, we take advantage of the speedier train journey to return to Dorchester and walk back round to the Council Yard, where the country buses wait for their village passengers. YET600 is here again, and is showing Yeovil on the blind (will it actually get there this time we wonder)? 5749UP is also there on the Sydling service - this leaves at 12.15 with about fifteen passengers on board. We join some other people waiting on YET600, now driven by John, which then goes round to both the South and West stations before pulling up outside the Council Yard again for the 12.40 departure. There is a good load of some thirty five passengers leaving town on this trip. We ride as far as Frampton this time and have a quarter of an hour for a swift half pint and a packet of crisps
Our journey back to Dorchester from Frampton is in Bere Regis & District's Bedford SB VOR160. Our lady driver is surprised at acquiring passengers from Frampton on this journey. The Bere Regis route to Dorchester is somewhat more circuitous than the route taken by Pearce's buses and involves a double run off the main road into Bradford Peverell and up to Giles Close, where we gain three passengers. Five more join us as we come back down through Bradford again. Having rejoined the main A37 we then take a narrow lane through Sodern which takes us to the northern end of the substantial village of Charminster. We run south through the village on the A352, double run to Hill View (no trade), and then pick up twelve more passengers after having climbed East Hill to the Vicarage Lane housing estate. So our tally on arrival back in Dorchester is twenty two people.
A quick change of bus and we are
riding out from Dorchester towards
Charminster again on the Herrison Hospital
bus at 2.00. An
frequent daily service, unusual in that it is not operated under a road
licence and neither are the buses PSV-licenced. Instead the buses
displaying official discs indicating that they are exempt from road
speaking the service is for patients, staff and visitors to the
there is a lively local trade between Dorchester and the housing
estates at Charminster. We have time to watch a cricket match in
progress in the
grounds of the hospital before returning on the 3.15 trip - this is
time at which the early and late shift drivers change over.
Paying our 6.5
pence fare again in exchange for a blue Ultimate ticket, we are soon