Percy Webb's buses to Chaldon and Lulworth
70th ANNIVERSARY YEAR
1933 - 2003
Please note - this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information
A family firm with perhaps a slightly shorter history than some, not starting until 1933. It was in that year that twenty-three year old Percy Webb moved home from Buckland Newton in the north of the county of Dorset and purchased the bus business of George Goult of Chaldon. Previously Thomas Coleman and James Ironside had also served the Chaldon and Winfrith routes. Percy worked from a base in the same small village of East Chaldon (also sometimes known as Chaldon Herring) and operated market day services from Chaldon and Winfrith Newburgh through Broadmayne to Dorchester on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Skirting across the vastness of Egdon Heath to the markets of Casterbridge. There was also a weekly service to Weymouth on Thursdays.
|In 1971 the Dorset
Queen routes were extended
further from Lulworth Cove to East Lulworth and Coombe Keynes
when Southern National withdrew operations from the Lulworth
The newly served villages had buses once on Thursdays to Weymouth and
Fridays to Dorchester. Percy passed away in October 1976 aged
66, followed by his
wife Mary in November 1981, at the age of 69. Control of the
business then passed to one
of their daughters, Mrs Rosemary Hodder. At this time the fleet
numbered 13 vehicles (11 coaches and 2 minibuses).
The main route to Dorchester grew again in connection with the Interbus take over of the daily except Sundays Southern National 459 service from Bovington through Wool and Winfrith to Dorchester in 1982. Interbus provided all the local journeys between Bovington and Wool Station whilst the journeys between Wool and Dorchester were shared with Dorset Queen. Interbus ran the morning and evening workers journeys whilst Dorset Queen provided the morning shoppers journeys. Return tickets were interavailable between the two operators. This was the first time that Dorset Queen had served the populous village of Wool. At about this time a Thursday morning market service was introduced from Bovington to Wareham and the Dorchester route now served Coombe Keynes and East Lulworth on Wednesdays as well as Fridays.
In 1987 the Bovington - Wool - Dorchester journeys that had originated in the joint working with Interbus in 1982 passed to Bere Regis & District as part of a county council retendering exercise, with Dorset Queen retrenching to its original three days a week shopping and market journeys.
Over the years the nearby military establishment at Bovington Camp and the atomic energy site at Winfrith have both provided much contract work for Dorset Queen, the former especially before the abolition of national service in the 1960s. The Dorset Queen business continued through the 1980s as a thriving coach operator on holiday tours, contract and private hire work from their garage in East Chaldon, with Percy's daughter Rosemary Hodder still at the wheel.
The bus service side of things declined further over the years. With the introduction of the Dorset Transit 102/103 routes hourly from Dorchester to Lulworth, Wool and Bovington in 1999, the Dorset Queen service was reduced to just one Wednesday morning journey to Dorchester for the market. By the summer of 2001 this once a week run was being operated by Barrys Coaches of Weymouth. So Dorset Queen continued as a coach operator but no longer ran any bus services. Not too much of a change perhaps as Percy spent many many a weekend away from Dorset driving forces leave services to London and then on-hire to Royal Blue for express work!
The area is rich in tourist interest being on a fabulous coastline and many groups come to the area and require transport. Dorset Queen continued to cater for these requirements with a quality fleet. The company celebrated 70 years in the business during 2003. The fleet at the time consisted of 11 coaches. Three Bedfords (two YNTís and a YMT), six Volvo B10Mís (five Plaxton bodied and one Caetano), a Mercedes 609D and a Sitcar Beluga bodied Mercedes 0815D.
Rosemary Hodder was a staunch supporter of the Confederation of Passenger Transport and developed an extensive programme of Dorset Queen holiday tours; this side of things went from strength to strength with pick ups spread over a wide area of Dorset and parts of Somerset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. The company also operated two Dorset school contracts and there were also regular school swimming movements. As years had gone by the levels of Army work had reduced following reductions in military activity, but had continued to be important for the company.
|The 1952 timetable after the extension of the service to Lulworth Cove
The 1982 timetable showing the new journeys from Wool as well as the traditional Lulworth and Winfrith service
|letter confirming sale of competing Bere Regis route to Dorset Queen in 1965
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