Transport historian Brian Jackson today shares the history of a Weymouth bus service that took children to school and visitors to Dorchester Market.

HAVING previously covered the history of coach and bus operators that had their garages in Westham, the next two were based at Chickerell but operated from the then developing Westham coach park.

Since the 1890s W.J Hodges had operated as a blacksmith and a cycle agent and repairer based in Little George Street (later Westham Road), his son and grandson later joining the business.

Entering the transport industry around 1924, a second hand 14 seat Fiat char a banc T 8636 was acquired to operate a contract to convey schoolchildren between Langton Herring and Chickerell School. In 1930 Hodge applied to operate a motor coach from the Kings Statue, but owing to the number of coaches and buses already at the site plus the forthcoming Road Traffic Act, it was refused.

Eventually in 1932 Hodge was permitted to operate a coach from the entrance to the embryonic Westham coach park the council charging 1/- per day, per vehicle. In September 1931 Hodge purchased a New Bedford 20 seat WLB coach TK 6827, and as Bedford coach production had only commenced the previous month he was the first in the area to own such a vehicle. Unfortunately apart from the legal details of his two vehicles no photographs or information of his coach business appear to have survived. James Hodge died suddenly in February 1933 and shortly after the coach was sold to C Dean and son of Chickerell Garage.

Charles Dean was involved with the brickworks in Putton Lane, Chickerell, during 1929 he decided to enter the road haulage business, building a garage and filling station on the main road at Chickerell.

In the event only a small lorry was purchased although he traded as `Monarch Coaches` acquiring a Chevrolet 20 seat coach in 1930 and a Ford AA 14 seat coach in 1931. A Saturdays only stage carriage service between Chickerell and Weymouth and a Wednesday only Chickerell-Dorchester Market service via Weymouth was commenced, and was later licensed to operate tours and excursions were operated from the Turks Head, Chickerell, also picking up at Westham Coach Park. In the summer of 1933 Dean acquired the coach business of Hodge this gave him rights to the site at the coach Park and the Langton Herring school service. In 1934 an additional pick up point for tours and excursions was added from the Swan Inn, Wyke Square.

During its 10 years of operation five of the six vehicles purchased were new, the exception being the Bedford WLB taken over from Hodge. The others consisting of a Ford AA, a Garner, two Bedfords, and a Dennis Lancet 1, all painted in two shades of blue with cream lining. Following the transfer of Jeanes licences to Southern National in October 1937, Dean became the only other coach operator in Weymouth holding 32 tours licences, and the Chickerell-Dorchester Market service, operated several taxis and sold petrol.

Unfortunately with war clouds gathering a bright future was blighted after the 1939 season, with the loss of trade and an uncertain future, the business was sold in June 1940 to F.C. Hoare of Bluebird Coaches of Portland who moved his business to Chickerell. Where within weeks several coaches were requisitioned by the Army, the business surviving the war years mainly operating Government contracts.