Lavington and Devizes Motor Services

The long awaited book about our local bus company has now been published.

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Laurie James has put together a fantastic book which is much more than a history of the vehicles. It is a social history which helps us to understand the way life was lived in the early years of the twentieth century.

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Let’s allow the book’s blurb to tell the tale.

Lavington & Devizes Motor Services (L&DMS) was not a typical West Country rural independent bus operator. Across Britain, many village-based concerns made the gradual transition from carrier to running buses and coaches, with many of those originally using horses progressing to motorised propulsion either just before, during or after the end of the First World War. In general, they ran one or a few modest services to the nearest town(s), often only on popular days such as that when the market was held. By contrast, L&DMS quickly established from 1920 a daily network of bus services across a large part of central and west Wiltshire.

L&DMS was a fascinating early operator, a pioneer in some respects, only touched on to date in published transport histories and this book sets out to remedy that omission, as we turn the clock back 100 years and more, to the dawn of motorised passenger transport in the Wiltshire town of Devizes and the village of Market Lavington. The story is as much about changes in the way of life as it is about the developing bus industry in rural Wiltshire.

Of course, inside the book you’ll find many photos of real local interest – many of which you may already have seen on this blog. Here are a couple of examples of people, rather than buses (of which there are plenty of photos).

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Of course the people featured here are Fred and Mabel Sayer. Fred started as a driver and then acquired his own company to run services. Mabel was his wife and they took an active part in local life.

The book starts in horse drawn days and takes us through the history of a number of local operators but Lavington and Devizes Motor Services features most. We learn that the company was ‘laid to rest’ in 1937 but the book continues to explain how more modern services still operate over the old routes.

It’s a fascinating book. It would make an ideal Christmas present for local folk as well as for bus enthusiasts.

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