POWELL'S COACHES

With a bus route along the borders of Dorset and Somerset



Powells first coach, a Bedford PJK



Please note - this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information



Motor engineer Colin Powell, proprietor of the village garage and petrol station in Thornford in Dorset since 1978, expanded his biusiness activities into bus operation in July 1987 with the assistance of the county council and a grant from the government's Rural Transport Development Fund.  This was a scheme to encourage the provison of bus services in rural areas that might have been left unserved following the legislative changes of the Transport Act 1985, after which many of the major companies concentrated their activities principally on urban and interurban routes that were commercially viable.

Powell's route was Y-shaped, linking to the two market towns of Sherborne in Dorset and Yeovil in Somerset, passing through the villages of Thornford, Yetminster and Bradford Abbas on the way.  It ran approximately two hourly on three days a week and the first vehicle employed was a Bedford Plaxton Supreme 25-seater, registered LMS223N.  This was purchased from an operator in Wales, Brown of Builth Wells.  An L-registered 41 seater Bedford SB was acquired at that time as a back up vehicle.  Both were painted in Powell's adopted livery of red and white.  Southern National had been the previous operators of this route as their service 17 since the 1930s but by 1985 this had declined to a single market journey on Thursday, now numbered 473. After Powell commencing they came back with a competitive minibus operation for a short while but that was unsuccessful. 

Amongst other vehicles known to have been operated by the Powells were, in no particular order : TFP25R, a Ford R1014 Plaxton Supreme 45-seater which was in the fleet for a number of years until at least 2013;  21 GDX, one of two Volvo B58 Plaxton 53-seaters;  KIW3076, a Ford R1014 Plaxton 35 seatr coach in red and white livery; MIB612, variously recorded as a Bova Futura and later as an all red Daf Van Hool (possibly a retained registration as the latter was in the fleet until coach operations ceased); and perhaps the most interesting vehicle of all, DFX332, a 1948 Bedford OB with 28-seater Mulliner body owned in 1982/83, ex Abbot of Piddletrenthide, Dorset).

The bus service experienced unexpected daily competition from November 1992 from London Country South West through their newly acquired subsidiary Oakfield Travel of Blandford, Dorset. Powell's three day a week operation was reduced to Thursday only as a consequence (by this time the route was numbered 200 in the Dorset County Council numbering scheme). Tuesday and Friday running was reintroduced from May 1993.

The exact date of cessation of their bus route is not known (it was still being run by Powell in 1997) but in the 2000s what had been Powell's route was to become somewhat overbussed as service 74 with daily competitive operation between two operators, South West Coaches and Damory Coaches. This appears to have continued until the blanket withdrawal of bus subsidies by the county council in July 2017.

Meanwhile after this challenging period the Powells continued with their coach operations until their operators licence was surrendered in November 2013, with the garage and workshop continuing further until the proprietor's retirement in February 2022. Today there are no buses in the villages that Powell once served.

timetable 1989
1989 timetable

DORSET (RURAL) DORSET (URBAN)
SOMERSET
WILTSHIRE
HAMPSHIRE
FAROE ISLANDS
NORMANDIE
ISLE OF SKYE
FRANCE (NATIONAL)
LINCOLNSHIRE