Wilts & Dorset photo archive

A few months ago I inherited a photograph collection devoted to the buses and coaches of Wilts & Dorset Motor Services Ltd, whose head office and centre of operations was in Salisbury. The photographs have been collected by my father, who grew up in Salisbury and followed the development of the company and its vehicles until the early 1960s.

Here is one of the early photographs, showing a 1929 Leyland TS single decker wearing the pre-1948 livery and fleetname. The collection is spread over three volumes and contains several hundred photographs. I haven’t counted them all yet! Most are postcard-sized black and white prints, published for collectors and enthusiasts by distributors such as Haynes, Simpson and Pennels. A few of my father’s own shots are included too.

Prior to the standardisation of the state-owned Wilts & Dorset, when ECW body on Bristol chassis became the norm, W&D ran buses and coaches from all the major manufacturers such as Leyland, AEC and Daimler. Shown above is a 1931 Leyland TD1 passing the Style & Gerrish department store in Salisbury. Fleet number 97 has a Leyland body and wears the pre-war livery of red and grey.

One of the last photographs in the collection is of this 1967 Leyland Leopard PSUR1/1R, acquired in 1971/2 from Maidstone & District.

I photographed the fleetname on this bus after it had been withdrawn in 1973 and was languishing in the dump at the back of the bus station in Castle Street, Salisbury.

This reflected my interest, not only in the buses of Wilts & Dorset but also in letterforms because I began training for a career in graphic design in the same year.

These are just a few examples of the many photographs in this wonderful collection. Maybe I’ll share a few more of them later!

6 comments on “Wilts & Dorset photo archive

  1. Stephen says:

    Hi John,
    How lucky you are to have inherited this collection, (lucky is probably the wrong word in the circumstances, but I think you know what I mean).
    I look forward to seeing more of these pictures in due course.
    Would it be at all possible to have a copy of the W&D Fleetname. I have a fair number of such pictures but not one of W&D.
    By the way did you ever get one of the Blue Bus Services for me.
    All the best

    • busmanjohn says:

      Hello Stephen, it’s not as bad as it seems – Dad is still alive and kicking! He decided to give me the photos now rather than have them in his house gathering dust as his interest has waned over the years!
      Thank you for reminding me about the Blue Bus Services fleetname. The last time I saw the BBS Daimler I was given a brush and mop and told to clean the inside in preparation for an open day. There wasn’t time for a photo unfortunately! I will get one to you eventually. In the meantime, I’ll email you a copy of the W&D one.
      Best wishes,

  2. Miles says:

    Hi John
    You wouldn’t by any chance have any information on the colours of the seat moquette and interiors for the Wilts and Dorset fleet in the early 1930s. Colin Morris’s book on the fleet doesn’t say and for model makers such as myself its a key piece of missing information. I’m particularly interested in the interiors of the Leyland TD1s.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Sorry, my memory doesn’t go that far back! The only person I know of who might know is Colin Billington. He seems to be the fount of all knowledge when it comes to Tilling fleets and has commissioned moquette runs before. Was W&D part of the Tilling empire that far back?

  3. Alan Clarke says:

    I am trying to establish where along Castle Street was the old W&D bus garage that became a Spitfire factory during WW11. Do you have any photographs of it? It backed onto the river. Not the current bus garage on the other side of Castle Street.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Sorry, I don’t have any photos. Some internet research might turn up the answer. I do know that the Anna Valley Motors garage was turned over to war production in WW11. My Grandpa collected Spitfire parts from there in his Bedford van.

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