Through the woods and across the heaths from the beautiful place in the New Forest

Recalled by Mike Lanham


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

Beaulieu, with its ancient abbey was once promoted as the 'beautiful place in the New Forest.' A later attraction was the National Motor Museum. A mile or two down the river lies Bucklers Hard, an 18th century village where ships were built for Nelson's navy.

In about 1918 Harry Wells started a taxi and cycle repair business from his home in Beaulieu. Two years later in 1920 Alec Marvin worked with Harry and a motor repair business was started. Then at about the same time Alfred Cecil Marvin (Alec's brother) joined them and in 1921 started running a parcels and carrier service in this part of the New Forest using a Trojan van. Routes were developed to Hythe and Southampton with acquisition of a second hand one ton Studebaker bus. This purchase was soon followed by a Ford TT long wheelbase hard-top, painted bright red it acquired the nickname of The Strawberry Basket. A soft top Ford charabanc was also acquired at this time, and was known as The Beefeater. After this came a one ton Ford Model T 14-seater painted red and yellow with black bonnet and mudguards. In addition to Cecil Marvin, other drivers were Jack Gay and Ernest Crouch. They were joined later by Harry Jennings, Bert Thomas and Arthur Hendey; the last named was the father-in-law of Mike Lanham of Sway who has contributed much of the information for this article. As illustrated below there was a 1927 Reo Speedwagon OR6447 with 4-cylinder engine and deep blue painted body built by Pitts of Amesbury. Following this was a larger 25-seater Chevrolet bus.

Despite the competitive arrival of Hants & Dorset Motor Services on the Lymington to Beaulieu road in 1925 (extended on to Hythe in 1927) the services grew with loyal passengers. A list of the routes in 1933 is below, including the services of A Rowe-Davies of East Boldre that were recorded as taken over in 1932.

Mike Lanham recalls that during world war two and after Marvin's bus was their local means of travel into the market town of Lymington, and he and his grandparents were regular passengers. Drivers Johnny Warne and Arthur Barnett were by then the two usual drivers with trilby-hatted owner Alec Marvin as an occasional relief driver.

There were obvious difficulties with operations during the war, although the business perhaps benefitted to some extent from the nearby RAF station. A Bedford in brown and cream livery was in use, then in 1944 a utility Bedford OWB 29-seater EOR384 was allocated to Beaulieu Motor Services, dark navy blue livery with wooden slatted seats.  The following year a Bedford OB / Mulliner 30-seater FCR342 was acquired, also dark navy blue. Next was GHO724, a 1948 Commer Commando 17A with 31-seater Duple coach body, finished in light green with cream mudguards and typical Duple 'flash'. It was these vehicles that maintained the services into the 1950s, the Duple coach usually on the Southampton service and the OWB and the OB on the more local runs into Lymington.  EOR384 is also remembered on a school run in the late 1940s from Fawley and Hythe to and from Brockenhurst Grammar School; Marvin's also supplied a large shooting brake to transport pupils from the Beaulieu and Bucklers Hard areas to the school.

The typical early-1950s service pattern is as shown in the 1949 timetable illustrated below when Marvin's routes linked Beaulieu, East Boldre and Bucklers Hard to Southampton daily; also to Lymington by two different routes on market days.  There had also been earlier services from East Boldre via Beaulieu to Hythe and from Bucklers Hard and Beaulieu to Lyndhurst, the latter for Friday evening cinema.

I recall the dark blue Bedford OWB at Marvin's garage and petrol station by the river in Beaulieu in the early 1950s. The Wednesday only route to Lymington via East Boldre was withdrawn in 1955 and the other slightly longer route to Lymington via Bucklers Hard dropped from three times a week to Saturday only.

The remaining services passed to Jennings Coaches Ltd of Dibden Purlieu from the spring of 1959, who ran them for a few more years. (Harry Jennings had learnt the country bus business by driving part-time for Marvin's). The Lymington via Bucklers Hard service was withdrawn in the Spring of 1965 after a period of Saturday only operation; whilst the Southampton service was progressively reduced in frequency, dropping to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday operation from the autumn of 1959; then to Tuesday only from the summer of 1961.  It was still running on that once a week basis until withdrawn in 1972.

1949 Beaulieu timetable

Bedford OWB
Marvin's 1946 Bedford OWB Mulliner FCR342 loading passengers at Beaulieu garage in the 1950s,
equipped with moquette upholstered seats     
(with thanks to John Carman for the photo)
Jennings 1959
Bedford SB JTR225 in July 1959 in Civic Centre Road, Southampton shortly after the Jennings take over of the route.
ABC Forum cinema in the background    
(with thanks to John Carman for the photo)

OR6447 Marvin 1920s
The 1927 Reo OR6447, painted in deep blue, the driver is trilby-hatted Alec Marvin. The picture was taken by the Clock House in Beaulieu when the vehicle was new.

Marvin Beaulieu Ford T c1924

Ford Model T 1 ton chassis with 14 seat hard top (1920s). Black bonnet and chassis; red upper and yellow lower body. Photographed on the roadway by the Beaulieu river.
(picture from Mike Lanham)

OWB in 1946

A Bedford OWB again, EOR384, pictured in East Boldre about 1946  (picture from Mike Lanham)

Marvin Beaulieu Commer Commando 1948

1948 Commer Commando 17A with 31 seat Duple body.
GHO724, green and cream.
(picture from Mike Lanham)

These were the routes that were run by Beaulieu Motor Service in 1933:

Beaulieu - Lymington direct

Beaulieu - Lymington via East Boldre (Wednesday and Saturday)

Beaulieu - Lymington via Bucklers Hard (Wednesday and Saturday)

Beaulieu - Bucklers Hard direct

Beaulieu - Southampton via Bucklers Hard
               (incorporating the service of A Rowe-Davies from 1932) (Daily)

East Boldre - Southampton via Beaulieu and Colbury

Bucklers Hard - Southampton Express, via Dibden Purlieu

East Boldre - Hythe via Beaulieu (Thursday)
(later pre-war years Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)

Bucklers Hard - Lyndhurst via Beaulieu (Monday, Friday)
(then in later pre-war years Friday evenings for cinema only)

East Boldre, Bucklers Hard, Lyndhurst

Excursions from Beaulieu and Exbury

Follow this link to a pre-war timetable booklet (c1936) of Beaulieu Motor Service

much additional information gratefully acknowledged from Kenneth Marvin (son of A C Marvin), Patrick Collins, John Carman and Mike Lanham

===  any other available photographs of Beaulieu vehicles would be of great interest ===