Paul Halligan's buses that ran across town for a while in 1987 and 1988


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

After the deregulation of buses in 1986, the following year saw the start of the new Poole Bay Services using red and cream ex-Plymouth Atlanteans to begin with. The company was founded by Paul Halligan who had worked in various positions for National Bus.  Originally numbered 200, the main route ran hourly across the conurbation linking Boscombe and Bournemouth to Parkstone and Poole.  It was true there were plenty of buses around on this line of route before the 200 started on 20th April 1987, but few ran through across the long standing central terminal and demarcation point at Bournemouth Square from one side of town to the other. Apart from concentration on the main all year round traffic corridor between Boscombe and Poole the needs of visitors were catered for too by the extensions at each end to Boscombe Pier and Poole Quay respectively. Unlike many new entrants into post-deregulation bus operation, Poole Bay ran its buses seven days a week from the start.

One of the ex-Plymouth Citybus Atlanteans MCO251H in Bournemouth in 1987. Sister vehicles MCO245H and MCO250H were also in the Poole Bay fleet. 
                                                            (photo courtesy of John Law)

Initially the buses operated from parking space rented in Wallisdown Road, Poole, and the firm also had an office and shop on the line of route at 512 Christchurch Road, Boscombe. 

The operating base moved about a mile or so to the south west in October 1987 to the Royal Mail parcels yard in Old Wareham Road, Newtown.  At the start of operations there were also two additional routes 201 and 202, which were simply morning and evening positioning journeys from the Wallisdown Road depot to and from the start and end points of service 200 at Boscombe Pier and Poole Quay respectively.

The second issue of the timetable leaflet for the 200 service came out on 10th June 1987.  The alterations were minor with the daily hourly frequency maintained, but the span of the operating day and the timing of departures from the two termini was altered from 0745 through to 1645 to make operations run an hour later, ie from 0845 to 1745 weekdays (first trip omitted on Sundays and bank holidays: see the timetable illustrated below).

Atlantean MCO251H IN 1987

During the summer of 1987 a seasonal route 203 was introduced between Rockley Sands holiday park west of Poole, via Poole Quay and Parkstone to Bournemouth Square. This ran three times a day from 29th June to 4th October, leaving Rockley at 0912, 1045 and 1615; returning from Bournemouth at 0955, 1530 and 1715.  The vehicle commitment was now three, two for the original 200 and one for the new summer 203 (which partly reinforced the hourly 200 between Poole and Bournemouth).

The main route was renumbered from 200 to 50 from 18th October 1987 (perhaps because the Atlanteans used had only two track not three track number blinds?).  There was also a very short-lived route 51 for about a month from 18th October 1987 running peak hour only journeys of six return trips a day from Broadway Lane through Moordown and Winton to Bournemouth Square. One surmises whether it might have been an attempt to find useful employment for the vehicle and driver from summer route 203 given the timing of the introduction of the new 51.

Poole Bay's original unique advantage of a route working right across the conurbation (the first since the trams had ceased in 1935) was lost when BadgerVectis commenced operating in the area, including a similar (but not identical) route in September 1987. This was to be short-lived however with the BadgerVectis operation proving unviable and being withdrawn after only seven months. In fact all operations by BadgerVectis ceased without warning in March 1988 for commercial reasons, for which the company received censure from the Traffic Commissioner for not giving the statutory notice period to withdraw routes.

Single deck Bristol RE EHU381K on route 50 turns from Ashley Road into Richmond Road opposite Parkstone Co-op in 1988.      (photo PR)

For the summer of 1988 four ex-BadgerVectis Bristol REs were acquired (and BadgerVectis had previously been a competitor to Poole Bay in the post-deregulation explosion of operators in the Bournemouth area). These were EHU377K/381K/383K and MHW285L.

At this time the main Poole Bay route was split into two services the 50 and 52. Service 50 was extended from Boscombe via Southbourne to Christchurch hourly, but without serving Boscombe Pier. Although shown in the timetable as diverted via Stour Road and Bargates to serve Christchurch railway station, this seemed not to have happened in practice.  Route 50 was also cut short at its western end at Poole Arndale Centre / Rail Station and no longer served Poole Quay.  This was served instead by the new summer seasonal hourly route 52 from Boscombe Pier via Bournemouth Square, Compton Acres Gardens and Sandbanks Ferry to Poole Quay.  This was to run from 22nd May to 2nd October 1988.

However all Poole Bay operations ceased on 22nd October 1988 for financial reasons after eighteen months of operation, despite an increase in frequency on the 50 from hourly to half-hourly on weekdays (still hourly on Sundays) as late as 5th October. Seven drivers needed to look for alternative employment. Towards the end it was reported that there had been an unsuccessful attempt to sell the operation as a going concern with a reputed asking price of 90,000 - the identity of a supposed mystery buyer intrigued the trade press at the time but was never established.

Poole Bay Services had run through two summer seasons and one winter, from 20th April 1987 to 22nd October 1988. Ultimately they had not succeeded in attracting enough passengers, difficult to achieve with a relatively low frequency operation competing against higher frequency and longer established operators with more flexible ticket and fares offerings. In Poole town centre they were disadvantaged by not being able to serve the bus staion (exclusive to Wilts & Dorset). Perhaps also they had not anticipated the arrival of another substantial competitor in the area when BadgerVectis started running their half a dozen routes in September 1987. But Poole Bay went out with style: in the very last week a hired Routemaster 109CLT was used on some of the workings.

The second timetable issued by Poole Bay Services, starting 10 June 1987, still with an hourly
service on  their original route from Poole Quay to Boscombe Pier.

1987 timetable

The route 50 timetable operating from March 1988, extended to Christchurch but now
omitting both Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier, the latter one of the original termini.


This is the summer 1988 timetable (dated 22nd May) for new hourly route 52 aimed mainly at
visitors and holidaymakers, running from Boscombe Pier to Poole Quay. Unlike the
original 200 this ran a partly coastal route serving Compton Acres gardens and the Sandbanks beaches.
Route 52 timetable

In the last week of Poole Bay operation, a hired Routemaster 109CLT  ran on route 50. It is pictured here at the Albert Road stop
 in Upper Parkstone (with the Rossmore Bus loading behind).  At this time the RM was owned by Rotherham and District, and
previously in the summer of 1987 it had been with Pulfrey of  Grantham, Lincs (operating a local town route to Alma Park). 
At the time of the picture it still carried Grantham area advertising.  (photo PR)
RM in Parkstone 1988
And a final shot of Poole Bay Atlantean MCO245H negotiating the roundabout at Bournemouth Square on its way to Boscombe Pier.   (photographer not known)
atlantean mco245h

In 2007 the name was revived by another unrelated company Poole Bay Travel operating coaches for educational visits, including trips to France.