The first motor coach in Alresford was probably the coach built just after the First World War, in 1919, by Mr A W Vickers, at his works in the Dean. He built the bodywork on top of a commercially produced chassis, sold by William and George Du Cros of Acton, in London. Apparently the registration was HO 2955, the letters HO were used as the Hampshire reference at the time. The picture below shows Mr Vickers with his bus, quoted by some as a “blue” bus. The service was advertised as a replacement for horse drawn carriers, and the fares quoted were sixpence each way to Winchester, and three shillings as the return fare to Bournemouth. But the coach had solid tyres, so it was still maybe a bumpy ride!
Mr Vickers with the first Alresford Minibus
The photo was provided by Nelson Trowbridge, who suggests the picture came from a print found during the demolition/dismantling of the works in the Dean many years later.
During the Second World War, Mr A W Vickers ran a company officially called “Blue Coach Services” in the Dene (sic) Alresford. In a letter dated 2 March 1940, to Mr Wilkinson of Broadway Garage in Broad Street – found when that building was demolished in the 1990s – Mr Vickers explains that his company, plus “Winchester & District, and Aldershot & District coaches are quite capable of catering for all the Military traffic from the Military camp at Northington to Winchester and back”. It appears Mr Wilkinson wanted to run a service from Northington to Winchester to take the soldiers to the cinema in Winchester in the evening, but Mr Vickers objected. You could say that getting home from Winchester late in the evening has apparently been a problem since 1940!
A day trip to Southsea from the pub?
Coach travel after WW2 might have had some boom years, and Alresford residents used the coaches for weekend trips. One seems to have been to a Funfair, probably in Southsea, with the passenger list being drawn from the customers of a local pub! The picture shows this outing – is this from the 1930s, or even earlier? Fourth from the right in the back row is Tom Port, of East Street, we believe.
Another Alresford coach trip was to the Wannock Gardens, in Polegate, Sussex: this photo of the people on the trip was taken by NH Portraits of 73 Hartington Road, Brighton.The trip was reported to have been organized by the Bell Hotel, probably in the 1940s after the war: in the front row, in the centre, is Bill Williams, the proprietor of the Bell at the time. Who are the rest of the people? We now have quite a number of names and answers after help from Audrey Chalk and Margaret Wingate, amongst others, as now listed below the photo. There are 37 in all, so it was a fairly big coach!
An outing to Wannock Gardens from the Bell Hotel.
On the back row, from the left, there is Mr White (who ran the Alresford cinema), with his wife in front on the end of the second row. Then at number 5 on the back row is Mrs Rustell, caretaker at the Dean School,
Second row Numbers 4 and 5 from the left are Mr and Mrs White of East St (Manager of a shoe shop), and 6 and 7 are Alf and Renie Chalk: 8 and 9 are Bob Deere and his wife, who lived over the Wessex chemist shop, next to Mr Port (again) on the end.
Third row: in number 2 this lady became Mrs Dawes, and her mother is on her right. At position 7 the older lady is Mrs Port, wife of Mr Port. Mr Blake, who ran the World Stores in East Street, is the tall man at number 3 (behind his wife in the front row).
In the fourth/front row: the first two are Reg and Emily Smith; third is Mrs Blake. On the other side of Bill Williams, in numbers 7 and 8 are a couple of which the husband worked at Hankins Garage, but we’ve forgotten his name. We’ve also forgotten the name of the couple on the right hand end!
This story was first posted in February 2013, and several comments were added then. When by accident it was re-posted in June 2014, it was not possible to move them, so they are listed here:
Posted by Len Strong on February 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm
What an interesting photo. I recognize most of the people in the ‘Swan Hotel’ photo. It was prior to the 1939 war. My grandad who had a bakery at the bottom of Broad Street actually hired the charabanc from Mr Vickers to take all the family to Southsea one Whitsuntide Monday. I was about 10 at the time so it would have been around 1935. The ‘chara’ was an open top affair with pull-over canvas roof if it rained, but it had pneumatic tyres (middle photo).
When he ran the Blue bus service to Winchester (top photo) he would pick up and set people down as near to their homes as possible through Itchen Stoke and the Worthies. Those were the days!!
Posted by Margaret Wingate (nee Stevens) on February 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm
Hello, I recognise 5 people on the coach trip to Polegate,they are Alf and Rene Chalk and Reg and Emily Smith (my aunts and uncles) also Mrs Rustell who used to live near us in the Dean.
Posted by Alresford Memories (the Editor) on February 16, 2013 at 11:56 am
See Len Strong’s story titled the ‘Alresford Fire Service’ for more information about his grandad’s bakery in Broad Street. His sister Pat also mentions it in her story ‘A 1940’s childhood at 45 Broad Street’.
The middle photo on this story shows the charabanc with the roll top roof rolled back – we can’t see the name on the side of the bus. Len describes such a charabanc trip to the seaside in his new story, just published, titled ‘A day at the Seaside’.
Thanks for your input too Margaret, the names have been included in the revised listing of names below the third picture! We now have quite a few names! Thankyou all!