R A BELL & SONS
Winterslow is a village with a current population of around two thousand people, which is double the number that lived there sixty years ago. It is located about six miles north east of Salisbury, and lies just off the A30 road to London. It is an extended village of several parts, West Winterslow, Middle Winterslow and Winterslow Gunville. The name of Bell is one of several that have been connected with transport in the area over the years, and it was in 1921 that Reg Bell started a bus service from Pitton to Salisbury by way of the main London road.
At the time Winterslow was served by Knight's Motor Service. Originally a horse-drawn carrier service provided by Edwin Knight, a local farmer, this was replaced by a Dennis motor bus in 1914, running to Salisbury on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. After the first world war this service was acquired by John Malpress who ran until about January 1926 when it passed to Reg Bell, who then extended his existing Pitton service back to start from Winterslow. The number of days operated grew gradually and by 1935 the service was daily. The 1931 census showed the village of Winterslow as having a population of 865 people.
Another operator was Kingston Coaches, the trading name of Edward Grant of Middle Winterslow, who was running to Salisbury four days a week by 1924. His route was different to that of Bell, going by way of Farley and Whaddon. This route too grew to daily operation and was sold to Wilts & Dorset Motor Services in April 1939 (becoming their route 39, renumbered post-war to 33). Kingston retained their coach operations but the sequence of events is unclear with the name revived after the second war by Alf Tedd and his sons Gordon and Phil. The latter named went on to acquire Amport & District in 1977. The Kingston Coaches business was jointly purchased by Thamesdown Transport (Swindon) and Southampton City Transport in the 1980s, and later sold to Wilts & Dorset.
There is also a fourth operator who forms part of this story. The Parsons were running a horse-drawn van until the 1920s when they acquired a Berliet bus. Subsequently they used a Dennis Ace bus. Their route to Salisbury was originally via Farley, the Grimsteads and Whaddon, but was subsequently changed about 1925 to start at East Winterslow and go via Figbury Rings and the London road. It is not known if the change of route was because Edward Grant was also running via Farley. In 1930 Parsons (Blue Belle Motor Service) ran twice on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and once on Thursdays. By 1932 the route was run daily and from 1932 to 1935 they traded as Parsons & Cully. (Cyril Cully was a Salisbury coach operator trading as Gem Coaches; he sold out to Wilts & Dorset in 1938). Wilfred Parsons sold to Wilts & Dorset in April 1939, his route becoming their service 38, renumbered post-war to 32.
Acquired by Armstead of Newton Tony in 1950, GMR967 a Leyland Comet with Reading body, was still in their
service in the late 1960s. Pictured whilst laying over
in New Canal, Salisbury.
So by the outbreak of the second war in 1939 there were three bus
routes serving the Winterslow villages, two provided by Wilts & Dorset (one route going via
Figbury Rings and the other via Farley) but with
Bell's still running their own route through Pitton, which village they
served exclusively. It seems then that
there were few bus-related developments for many years until August
1986 when Bell's
Coaches took over the long established business of Armstead of Newton
As well as being the village blacksmith John Armstead had been the local carrier before the first world war. In 1918 he and his son Harold started a motor bus route to Salisbury passing through Allington, Idmiston and Winterbourne three days a week (places also served more frequently every day by Silver Star, although they did not run as far as Newton Tony, which is a little isolated lying to the east of the main road through the valley of the Bourne). Vehicles used included Guys and Albions and the Forest Queen name was adopted. A timetable from 1969 shows that there were two return trips on Tuesdays, one on Thursdays and five on Saturdays. The service had been very similar twenty years before in 1949 except for one additional Saturday evening run and a Sunday evening return journey. Bell's continued the route until late 1998 by which time it was really unnecessary as Wilts & Dorset routes 63 and 64 from Salisbury to Tidworth had been diverted into Newton Tony.
Bell's were to be the last of the "traditional" independent bus services to run into Salisbury. Subsequent developments saw the sale of the Bell's Coaches business and bus routes to Wilts & Dorset in May 1999. They had also previously acquired the Kingston Coaches business in 1997. Both trading names were retained as part of what became Southern Coach Hire in Salisbury, part of the Go-Ahead group which had taken over Wilts & Dorset in 2005. Other local long established and well known coaching names forming part of Southern were Levers Coaches of Fovant and Tourist Coaches (Stanfield) of Figheldean. The original Bell's bus route to Winterslow from Salisbury became Wilts & Dorset hourly service 89 from 2000, but there have been changes since. In 2013 there are services 87 and 88 operating along this route (no longer hourly) with some journeys extended to and from Andover, with departures provided variously by Stagecoach (off-peak), Wilts & Dorset (peak time and school journeys) and Hatts Coaches (morning school journey).
|Bell's timetable dated November 1964 (with Sunday service subsequently deleted)
|Parsons timetable leaflet, believed to be in force in April 1937
1934 timetable for Kingston Coaches (Edward Grant)
|Bell's timetable 1990 (leaflet issued by
Wiltshire County Council)
|with grateful acknowledgement to Roger
Grimley's published works