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BLANDFORD BUS COMPANY

John Cumming wanted to run a bus company -

                                     in 1989 he achieved that ambition


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Please note - this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information




With the advent of bus deregulation after the 1985 Transport Act, John Cumming 
saw opportunities for new routes in the Blandford area
of Dorset. He started
Blandford Bus Company with his mother Mary in April 1989. Always a friendly
and approachable operator, there was always a welcome for the enthusiast as John
was always the enthusiast himself.
During the comparatively short life of this company, a miscellany of different routes
were tried by John and his mother. Starting with one bus, bought with the assistance
of government grant scheme the Rural Transport Development Fund, Blandford
Bus commenced operations on Monday 10 April 1989 (first timetable issue) over the
following innovative routes:
321	Blandford - Poole (Monday to Friday commuter service linking to London train)

322 Milborne St Andrew - Blandford (school and works journeys Monday to Friday)

323 Stourpaine - Tarrant Gunville - Salisbury (market service Tuesday)

324 Turnworth - Winterborne Kingston - Wimborne (market service Friday)

325 Milborne St Andrew - Blandford - Poole (shopping service Saturday, 2 journeys)

326 Iwerne Minster - Tarrant Valley - Wimborne - Poole (shopping service Saturday)
All the services above were interworked and could be operated by one bus.

1989tt
Changes were to come quickly, however, based on the experience of the first few weeks running. 
The second issue of the timetable was dated 10 July 1989 and the changes to the routes were as follows, with the commuter
run to Poole station (for which there had been high hopes) discontinued:
321	Withdrawn after Friday 7 July (lack of patronage)
322 Increased frequency including additional Tuesday and Friday shoppers journeys to Blandford,
also 1704 journey extended from Milborne St Andrew to Bere Regis (original 322 withdrawn after 6 October 1989)
323 Unchanged: Stourpaine - Salisbury
(market service Tuesday)
324 Extended from Wimborne to Poole (now Turnworth - Wimborne - Poole, market service Friday)
325 Increased to 4 journeys:
Milborne St Andrew - Poole (shopping service Saturday). Withdrawn after 7 October 1989
326 Unchanged: Iwerne Minster - Poole (Saturday). Withdrawn after 7 October 1989
327 New service: Bryanston - Blandford (market service Thursday, 6 journeys) (only ran on 13 and 20 July 1989 in practice)
328 New service: Blandford - Wimborne - Ringwood (market service Wednesday)
The services above required the operation of a second bus on certain days. 
It was nearly twelve months before the third timetable appeared on April 1 1990.
With a year's operating experience now gained, the following adjustments were made,
resulting in a much reduced (and perhaps more realistic) level of operation:
322	Withdrawn (level of service offered probably over generous)
323 Extended back to start at Milton Abbas and double run to Chettle introduced (Milton Abbas - Salisbury, Tuesday)
324 Extended back to start at Milton Abbas (now Milton Abbas - Wimborne - Poole, Friday)
325 Reintroduced but reduced to 1 journey and extended to Bournemouth (Milborne St Andrew - Bournemouth, Saturday)
326 Withdrawn
327 Withdrawn
328 Diverted via Corfe Mullen School; now Wednesdays in summer only (Blandford - Ringwood)
113 (from 19 April - formerly Bere Regis & District) Bere Regis - Milton Abbas - Blandford (market service Thursday)

So timetable three permitted operation with just one bus again and was a far less demanding operation.


Blandford Bus Company CSG787S, a former Scottish Omnibuses Seddon Pennine 7 / Plaxton,
arrives in New Canal, Salisbury, on service 323 on 7th August 1990 (photo by Mike Wadman)


Seddon Pennine on service 323 in Salisbury 1990

Timetable number four  followed quickly on 1 July 1990 and was even more modest with the withdrawal of  Saturday services:
321	New service: Melcombe Bingham - Milton Abbas - Blandford (market service Thursday, 2 journeys)
322 Revision of route 113: Bere Regis - Winterborne Whitchurch - Blandford
(market service Thursday, diverted via Inside Park instead of Bryanston)
323 Unchanged (Milton Abbas - Salisbury, Tuesday)
324 Unchanged (Milton Abbas - Poole, Friday)
325 Withdrawn
328 Unchanged (Blandford - Ringwood, Wednesday in summer only)
Services continued for nine months and timetable number five was issued on 22 April 1991, which reintroduced Saturday operation:
321	Unchanged (Melcombe Bingham - Blandford, Thursday)
322 Unchanged (Bere Regis - Blandford, Thursday)
323 Unchanged
(Milton Abbas - Salisbury, Tuesday)
324 Extended back to start at Melcombe Bingham (now Melcombe Bingham - Poole, Friday)
325 Ringwood service (ex-328) - Corfe Mullen School omitted again and now diverted via Ameysford Road in Ferndown
326 New service: Melcombe Bingham - Bulbarrow - Milton Abbas - Blandford (shopping and tourist service, Saturday, 4 journeys
- connecting with Wilts & Dorset X13 at Blandford from Bournemouth and Poole, promoted in separate leaflet)
328 Renumbered 325

Timetable six followed on 1 November 1991, with a considerable expansion of service:

111 New service: Blandford - Milton Abbas - Hilton - Dorchester
(daily workers and school journeys; shoppers journeys to Dorchester on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday;
shoppers journeys to Blandford on Thursday and Saturday.
Replaces 321 and 326 and the ex-House route from Hilton to Dorchester).
312 New service: Mappowder - Hazelbury Bryan - Woolland - Blandford (market service Thursday;
replaces most of the ex-House route from Hilton to Blandford)
313 New service: Blandford - Milborne St Andrew - Wareham (shopping journey Tuesday, replaces Oakfield route)
314 New service Wareham - Ridge (in layover time of 313, Tuesday, ex-Oakfield).
321 Absorbed into 111
322 Unchanged:
Bere Regis - Winterborne Whitchurch - Blandford (market service Thursday)
323 Unchanged:
Milton Abbas - Stourpaine - Salisbury (market service Tuesday)
324 Unchanged: Melcombe Bingham - Wimborne - Poole (Friday)
325 Unchanged:
Blandford - Wimborne - Ringwood (market service Wednesday, summer only)
326 Absorbed into 111

KDL204W comes down the hill in Milton Abbas in 1991 with John Cumming driving.
This Bristol LHS was with the company from 1990 until 1994 and then passed to Brown
of Motcombe (Shaftesbury & District), who in turn sold it in 1997 to Cudlipp of Stur-
minster Newton, Dorset. New in 1981 to Southern Vectis on the Isle of Wight.
(photo courtesy Dorset County Council, passenger transport group)
Bristol LHS in Milton Abbas

Route map from timetable six, November 1991
route map 1991
An amendment leaflet to timetable number six was issued in Spring 1992:
311 Turnworth - Winterborne Whitchurch - Blandford (school journey Monday to Friday, ex-Oakfield)
314 Withdrawn (Wareham - Ridge, Thursday)
314 New service: Blandford - Tower Park (leisure journey Friday)
323 Curtailed to start at Blandford (after loss of school contract at Milton Abbas)
Timetable number seven was issued on 1 November 1992 (this was to be the last timetable book issued).  The routes were now:
111	Same with extra Saturday journeys (Blandford - Milton Abbas - Hilton - Dorchester)
312 Unchanged (Mappowder - Blandford, Thursday)
313 Unchanged (Blandford - Wareham, Tuesday)
314 Withdrawn (as amendment leaflet above)
322 Unchanged (Bere Regis - Blandford, Thursday)
323 Unchanged (Blandford - Salisbury, Tuesday)
324 Unchanged (except starts Milton Abbas not Melcombe Bingham on schooldays)
325 Unchanged (
Blandford - Ringwood (market service Wednesday in summer only)

Two of the fleet laying over in Blandford, including GCL349N, a 49 seater Bristol RE,
in the Blandford fleet from October 1992 until February 1994. Later with Ray Cuff of
Piddlehinton from 1996 till 2003. ECW bodied. It was new to Eastern Counties in 1974,
and is now in preservation in its original white Eastern Counties white livery. Parked
alongside is Ford Transit / Dormobile minibus C501BFB, ex-Bristol Omnibus
(which was affectionately called Hovis).
two of the fleet parked in Blandford
The last route developments were to sow the seeds of the downfall of the company.  From  1 February 1993 a new hourly
service 138 was introduced between Shaftesbury, Blandford and Poole (hourly from Blandford, two journeys starting back at
Shaftesbury). This incurred the displeasure of the local majority operator Wilts & Dorset who - although they only operated
a limited direct service of three journeys a day between Blandford and Poole on the X13 - saw this as a major incursion
into "their patch".


Their response was to introduce a new route X38 from 1 March to duplicate
Blandford Bus route 138, also hourly, and running five minutes in front at
greatly reduced fares. As a further retaliatory measure Wilts & Dorset
introduced route 11 to duplicate the 'best' shopping journeys of Blandford
Bus route 111 to Dorchester, and also a Thursday route 22 to duplicate the 322 from
Bere Regis. A small company like Blandford Bus did not have the economic
resource to withstand a competitive attack of this nature and after two months
John Cumming had to withdraw the Poole service and retract to his core network
of rural services.
The LHS waiting in Serpentine Road, Poole
             (photo Andy Wood)

This was the beginning of the end and finally the routes (but not the vehicles) of the Blandford Bus Company passed to Damory 
Coaches of Blandford in January 1994. By then Damory were themselves a Wilts & Dorset subsidiary and had also taken over the
Oakfield and Stanbridge and Crichel businesses as well a few months previously.
Seddon Pennine 45 seater CSG787S. This had been new to Scottish Omnibuses in March 1978
(photo from the Roger Grimley collection)

Seddon Pennine
Blandford Bus had operated an interesting fleet mix in its five years of existence, ranging from Leyland Leopard and Seddon 
Pennine coaches to Bristol LHS and RE buses. There was also a Toyota/Caetano 19-seater and even a Leyland National.
But best and long remembered will be that blue and white LHS which was affectionately signwritten as the Dorset Puddle Jumper.
Of the original routes introduced at the start of operations in April 1989 only the 323 Salisbury Tuesday market service and 324
Wimborne Friday market service operated throughout until the demise of Blandford Bus five years later. John continues to work
in transport in the Dorset area.

Bristol RE NHB190M is seen near Dewlish on the way to Dorchester on the ex-House of Hilton route. Proprietor John Cumming driving.
The bus had been new to Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council Transport in November 1973 and was in the Blandford Bus fleet from
February 1992
until November 1993. John always liked an RE!  (photo courtesy of Keith Newton)

Bristol RE NHB190M near Dewlish

NEL111P Leyland Leopard / Plaxton at Buckland Newton church. Although showing route 323 only the 312 market service to
Blandford on Thursday served this point.  It was new to Hants & Dorset in March 1976. (photo courtesy Keith Newton)

Leyland Leopard at Buckland Newton church



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