Posts Tagged ‘bus’

The bus company in Market Lavington

July 19, 2016

Just recently charabancs and bus companies have featured quite a bit on this blog. Yesterday we featured a ‘lost and found’ button which may have belonged to Mr Fred Sayer. Today we bring you the history of motor bus operations as written by WI members in the mid 1950s. This also features Mr Fred Sayer.

image002 image004 image006Let’s transcribe the text.

Motor Bus Services

In 1911 the Bath Tramways Motor Company of Bath stationed two motor buses at Market Lavington, together with two drivers. The buses were garaged in the “King’s Arms” yard. After a few years however, they decided that they did not pay and so decided to withdraw them. Mr F. H. Sayer, one of the drivers, however, who apparently had foresight of the possibilities of motor buses in the Market Lavington district, purchased the buses from the Bath Tramways and set up on his own to run services.

Sayer’s buses began to pay and early in the 1920’s a company’ was formed which called itself the Lavington & Devizes Motor Services Ltd., and by 1934 the Company had extended to 37 buses and coaches – or rather “char-a-bancs” as they were called in those days. Services were running to all the principal towns and villages in the district, including Bath, Salisbury, Trowbridge, Pewsey, Chippenham etc.

About one-third of this fleet of 37 vehicles were charabancs which were only licensed during the summer months for running trips and day outings to the sea-side and places of interest. The charabancs were much different to the present day luxury coaches which carry out these trips. They were open with a canvas hood which was pulled over the seats when the weather was unkind. The seats went right across the vehicle, with a separate door to each row of seats. They had large brass head lamps lit by acetylene (later with bulbs and a battery), and up to about 1927-8 they all had solid tyres.

The buses too, were very different to the present day ones which serve the village. They were very high, fitted with solid tyres, and most of them were fitted with a carrier on the back, and sometimes on the roof, for carrying large parcels and crates of poultry etc., to and from the various markets.

All repairs and maintenance (body-building and painting etc) was carried on at the Company’s depot which was Oatley’s Yard and the garage now owned by Messrs. Wordleys. Wages for some time were 7/6 per week for conductors and £2.0.0 for drivers!

Mr. Sayer by this time was quite a well-known figure in the district as Proprietor of the Lavington & Devizes Motor Services: also because he was an exceptionally big man – at one time his weight was Just over 32 stones!

In 1934 the Lavington & Devizes Motor Services Ltd., was sold to the Bath Tramways Motor Co. Ltd., and a few years later they in turn were taken over by the Bristol Tramways & Carriage Co., but the Bath Tramways still retained their title, which still holds today.

In 1935-6 great changes took place: the Company built a large new depot comprising Garage. Booking office and waiting rooms etc., at Devizes which became the company’s headquarters for the district. More modern and up-to date vehicles were operated and services on practically all roads were made more frequent.

Although Devizes was made the centre for the Company’s operations Market Lavington was not entirely neglected as now a very frequent service is running between Market Lavington and Devizes, and the buses on the service are modern double-deckers. Some of these double-deckers are not much higher than some of the very early single deck buses were, especially when they had crates of livestock in the racks on the roof!


The band and the bus

July 6, 2016

We have seen this picture before on this blog but we have recently been given another copy and it seemed a good idea to try to make a better image of it.

So here we have seriously increased the contrast on the very flat toned original and made one and all more visible.

Market Lavington band and bus in 1912

Market Lavington band and bus in 1912

The back of this card is captioned, ‘The band in 1912’.

Some band members are on the top deck of the bus.

Not much room on top on this bus.

Not much room on top on this bus.

We don't recognise the driver

We don’t recognise the driver

The bus registration is FB013.

Mr Trotter was landlord at the Volunteer Arms

Mr Trotter was landlord at the Volunteer Arms

The scene is outside the old Volunteer Arms where Mr Trotter was the landlord, supplementing his income by selling firewood.

He had other strings to his bow

He had other strings to his bow

There are more band members and plenty of other folks who were standing by the bus.

image008 image009 image010

As ever, the chances of recognition are small for this is more than 100 years ago, but do get in touch if you can give any names.

One that got away

May 19, 2016

Here we have a news item which has been sellotaped into an album (and thus damaged).


This news item dates from 28th February 1952. The person who kept it hasn’t named the paper. It shows a wonderful toy found in the home of the late George Cull of Easterton. The toy represents a double decked horse drawn bus. The bus appears to be made of basket work. Whilst the age of the toy was uncertain, it had been found wrapped in an 1887 newspaper so it is assumed to be that old at least.

Of course, back in 1952 we had no museum here in Lavington. As far as our museum is concerned we missed the bus and it got away. But now we have begun enquiries to find out if this lovely looking toy still exists.

A Bodman’s Bus

December 27, 2014

The Bodman bus and coach company was based not in Market Lavington but in a neighbouring community called Worton. It is actually sad to relate that it has recently closed down. It seemed to have been going for ever.

Our interest stems from a photo we were recently given. It came in a little collection all found fifty years ago in a house in Parsonage Lane which once belonged to the Cooper family.  The other photos were all of places and people in Market Lavington but this picture, of a bus presented a problem because we couldn’t identify it.

A Bodman Bus and driber between 1934 and 1940

A Bodman Bus and driver between 1934 and 1940

It is a lovely photo and people with more bus knowledge than us have traced its full history. And here is the bus history.

It is a Chevrolet LQ (chassis no. 50333) with 14 seat bodywork by an unknown manufacturer. It was delivered new in March 1929 to W V Edmunds of Shotley, in Suffolk. The bus was acquired (probably with Edmunds business) by Eastern Counties Omnibus Co. in August 1929 and numbered H137. This vehicle was withdrawn in December 1932 and passed in the same month through the hands of three dealers – Leyland Motors, Wintour of London and H. Lane of Chelsea, SW10. It was acquired by Lloyd Cinemas Ltd., London in April 1933. Then it was sold to C. Bodman of Worton in October 1934. The final knowledge is that it was converted to an “agricultural tractor” in May 1940. The lady is probably either a member of the Bodman family (she wears a Western Traffic Area driver’s badge) or one of their staff.

Local people are fairly certain that the driver was Lil Bodman who remained a bus/coach driver into the 1970s.

So the only question to answer now is what the connection might be with the Cooper family and the house in Parsonage Lane where the photo was found.

Lavington and Devizes Motor Services

December 3, 2014

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


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.


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).


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.

A 1920s bus and a bus book

October 13, 2014

Things (like buses), they say, come in threes. On that basis we wonder what the next Market Lavington book will be. Yesterday we looked at a work of pure fiction – The Lost Pages. Today’s book is, by contrast, pure fact. It’s about Lavington and Devizes Motor Services and is due for publication next month.

As yet, we have a flyer (but we have seen proofs and know it is a thorough and interesting read).


Laurie James is the author who has put together this scholarly work. His flyer is showing two of many photos from our museum collection.


So, in the last two days we have shown you two items for your Christmas stocking – and by the way, the museum itself has no financial interest in these sales but we are willing to support items that highlight our district because we are very proud of the Lavingtons in general.

We can be amused by the fact that the photographers who took photos of buses weren’t actually that bothered about the bus. After all, buses didn’t buy copies of the photo but passengers did, so the idea was to make sure you showed all of the passengers. And here’s a case in point from our museum collection.

1920s photo of a Lavington and Devizes bus - concentrating on the passengers

1920s photo of a Lavington and Devizes bus – concentrating on the passengers

Our caption for this is limited. All we have is ‘Bus with passengers from Market Lavington at Salisbury – 1920s’. All of the passengers have been lined up, along with the driver. The front of the bus, which might have enabled an easy identification, has been missed.

And sadly we have no names for passengers on this outing which does not appear to be a summer trip. Nearly all of the passengers are wearing overcoats.

Of course, we can always hope that a reader of this blog will recognise a parent or a grandparent amongst those shown. If you do happen to, then do let us know.

The Horse Bus

January 26, 2014

Edwin Potter’s horse bus service connected Market Lavington to the rest of the world. Until the railway arrived in 1900, the only way out of our parish was by road and the only regular bus service was that provided by Mr Potter. This photo is a lovely portrait of the bus. We do not know just where it was taken. Clearly it is on a country lane. It is dated at around 1900.

Edwin Potter's Market Lavington to Devizes bus in about 1900

Edwin Potter’s Market Lavington to Devizes bus in about 1900

Our photo is clearly a copy of one in an album.

We can see the bus in the charge of two horses. They may have been deemed a little flighty as blinkers are being worn.

By 1900, Mr Potter was finding this service uneconomical but it looks as though he would earn money as a carrier. His bus roof is heavily laden.

Operating the bus tended to be a family affair. That could be Edwin, himself, driving and possibly a son leaning on the bus at the back.

There is a rather attractive young lady making use of the bus service.

A bus passenger

A bus passenger

She must have decided she’d be in the photo.

The arrival of motor buses ended the reign of the horse on this service. By 1911 Edwin was earning his keep on his farm.

A Bus Ticket

November 18, 2013

Recent items to arrive at the museum have included items, trivial in their day, which somebody had the foresight to save or rescue. There was the paper bag from the bakery of Mr Sheppard in Easterton and an old jam jar from the jam factory. Now we bring you a bus ticket, given to us earlier this month.

It is between 80 and 100 years old, we think. What a survivor for an item of no further use after the journey has been made.

It was issued by Lavington and Devizes Motor Services from the era when the company was in the hands of Fred Sayer

Lavington and Devizes Motor Services bus ticket

Lavington and Devizes Motor Services bus ticket

Lavington and Devizes Motor Services bus ticket

Lavington and Devizes Motor Services bus ticket

We can see it is a return ticket and the conductor (or clippie) has punched holes to indicate it was used on the up and down journeys. We do not know what route it was used on but a two shilling fare (that’s what the big red number 2 says) indicate a longer route. Apparently the fare from Market Lavington to Bath was half a crown – two shillings and six pence.

Some of the cost of printing tickets has been paid for by an advert on the back. As we are Market Lavington Museum we’d have loved it to have been for a Market Lavington Company. It isn’t. It is for a Devizes clothier.

The advert on the back of the ticket is for Joseph Clappen of Devizes

The advert on the back of the ticket is for Joseph Clappen of Devizes

Joseph Clappen was certainly in business in 1911. There’ll be somebody, surely, who can tell us when he got his phone (number 103) which may help us date the ticket with more accuracy.

Yet another fabulous little item has arrived at the museum. Our thanks to Jim for acquiring this one for us.

A Trowbridge Carnival

October 7, 2013

A Trowbridge Carnival? What has that got to do with Market Lavington?  Well in this case, the vehicle in use was Market Lavington based.

Edwin Potter's Market Lavington to Devizes bus in use at a Trowbridge Carnival

Edwin Potter’s Market Lavington to Devizes bus in use at a Trowbridge Carnival

This was Edwin Potter’s bus, which had normally plied between Lavington and Devizes. We wonder if it is use to portray transport in times past. In fact we don’t know the date of the photo, but it may well have been towards the end of the Edwardian era. By then, Edwin had reduced his service to just three days a week, so the bus would have been available for other uses.

The give-away on this photo is the banner on the roof line of the bus.


The Lavington to Devizes legend can be seen under the added carnival banner

The Lavington to Devizes legend can be seen under the added carnival banner

We can’t read the stuck on paper message – the last three words are ‘to the carnival’. But under it we can see the beginning of the word Lavington and the end of the word Devizes. This, we know, was Potter’s bus.


Of course, it would be grand to recognise the people. Then we’d know if they were Market Lavington folk or others from the Trowbridge area. Here are some of the folks enlarged. Maybe a reader will know them???


The Museum Miscellany

September 14, 2013

The day has come. This evening at 7.30 in Market Lavington Community Hall the team will present their mix of photos, talk, sounds and food – all with a local theme. It’s a fantastic fivers worth.

Our men at work section (including women of course)  takes us from the farms of Eastcott through Easterton and Market Lavington and includes builders, publicans, shop workers, demolition – in fact many of the jobs that people do – in this case its local people – it could even be you.

Porters on Lavington Station in the 1950s

Porters on Lavington Station in the 1950s

We’ll do a tour of the villages – mostly photos we haven’t used before – maybe that will include your house, school or place of work. People appear in this too – like this photo at St Barnabas School in the late 1980s.

A performance at St Barnabas School in the 1980s. There are lots of people to recognise there.

A performance at St Barnabas School in the 1980s. There are lots of people to recognise there.

The chances are you won’t see yourself during our piece on the extraordinary Saunders family. They form part of our village history in the nineteenth century – and not just our village. Family members had huge influence right round the world.

In Church and Chapel life we’ll look at the people and how religion influenced social life. Expect to see people performing in theatrical events or just having a knees-up at the seaside.


A Congregational Church outing at Edington

In ‘Sybil Remembers’, we’ll share some of the memories of Sybil Perry who was a pupil at Market Lavington School in the 1920s who, later, became a teacher there.


Sybil and Des Perry in 2005

 We plan to end the evening by showing just a few of our magic lantern slides. These date from about 1860 and were owned by Charles Hitchcock who owned Fiddington Asylum.

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If time permits, which it probably won’t, we’ll share some metal detector items, ‘Found in the Soil’ with you.

And don’t forget the food interval – the high spot of the evening for some.