History of the Village Industries
from 1335 onwards
earliest times agriculture has been the principal industry
of this parish, together with the associated rural crafts
such as carpentry, thatching, milling and blacksmithing. Apart
from the open common fields to the north of the village, the
downland was not generally used except in later years for
sheep, and before the 19th century farming was confined almost
entirely to the more fertile alluvial valley areas. The old
established farms are therefore to be found along the valleys
of the Bere stream and river Piddle, and they bear highly
individual names, such as Roke, Shitterton, Court, Doddings
and Philliols. Subsequently farms such as Bere Down and Muddox
Barrow (Skippits) have become established on downland, whilst
larger areas of heathland have been brought under cultivation
in order to extend old farms or to establish new ones such
as Lower Woodbury farm.
the following accounts of old farms, they are dealt with in
the order in which they occur along the river valleys, working
in a downstream direction:
Farm. Formerly spelled 'Roak', this seems originally
to have been a separate manor in its own right, but by the
reign of Edward IV (1461-83) it belonged to the Turbervilles,
and then no doubt became part of the Bere manor. Most of the
farm buildings were rebuilt at the close of the 19th century,
but the formerly thatched farmhouse and barn date from the
18th century. The original farm was probably confined to the
low lying meadow land only, but by the 18th century it had
been extended to include most of Roke Down. Click the photo
below to see a tractor on Roke farm in 1927 -
Farm. Shitterton has always been under separate ownership
from the Bere manor, and was formerly regarded as a manor
in its own right. The name has been variously spelled Chitterton,
Shitterton or Sitterton, and at one time during the 17th century
was known as Whitelovington according to the old churchwardens
accounts. In the 15th century it had been held by Richard
Cerne who died in 1431 and by John Herring who died in 1456,
but by 1591 it had come into the hands of the Morton family
of Milborne (Cardinal Morton's family) whose descendants,
including the Morton Pleydells, continued to own it until
the property became part of the Bladen estate early in this
century. The Argentons, and later a branch of the Williams
family of Herringston were lessees of the manor and farm in
the 17th and 18th centuries, but they resided in Shitterton
House which was described in 1861 as having been "lately
taken down". The farm was run as a separate entity until
1968 when it was annexed to Briantspuddle farm and the fine
early 18th century thatched farmhouse (click the photo below)
became a separate dwelling.
Although not now a separate farm, Southbrook was formerly
regarded as a `hamlet', and the late 18th century thatched
barn which survived until recent years suggests the former
existence of a farm. During the reign of Edward 1 (1272-1307)
Southbrook was held by the Boys or de Bosco family, and in
the 14th century the Shanke family appear to have succeeded
them. Click the photo below to see the farmland -
Farm. This had always been the capital farm attached
to the manor and its name is derived from the days when the
manor itself belonged directly to the king. Click the photo
below to see the farm -
Farm. Formerly called Doddingsbere, the name is thought
to be of Saxon origin. It does not appear to have formed part
of the manor at the time of the Domesday survey (1086), and
the de Bosco family held it in the late 13th century. A family
named de Whitfield held it in the early part of the 14th century,
and Eubolo de Strange had owned it before his death in 1335,
but soon afterwards it came to the Turberville family. It
was then presumably added to the main manor, but in later
times at least a part of Doddings formed part of the estates
of the Morton family of Milborne. Click the photo below to
see the farmland -
Farm derives its name from having belonged in early
times to the Filiol family. By the 17th century it was owned
by a family named Turner who seem to have become related by
marriage to the Ekins family who in about 1690 inherited it.
It then remained in the hands of that family until at least
the beginning of the 19th century, when after one or two changes
of hand by sale it was finally bought by Mr. J. S. W. S. E.
Drax and hence became part of the main estate. The farm buildings
were rebuilt by the Ekins family in 1748, as that date appears
in the west gable of the barn.
Farm itself is first referred to in the old churchwardens
accounts in 1630, but Chamberlaynes Mill is probably older,
having at one time belonged to Bindon Abbey, and the mill
existed at least before 1541, wnen the property comprised
one mill, 60 acres (24 hectares) of land, 16 acres (6.4 hectares)
of meadow and 200 acres (80 hectares) of heath and furze.
The Mortons of Milborne became lessees under Bindon Abbey,
and no doubt acquired the mill and farm after the dissolution,
for it eventually came to their descendants the Morton Pleydells.
In 1653 the rents were valued at £3.34 per annum.
Farm is referred to in the old churchwardens accounts
as early as 1628 when it belonged to the Loupe family. Before
1642 the name is spelt Culease, but after that date it seems
always to have been spelt Cowlease which explains its derivation.
In 1861 it formed part of property invested in charity trustees
by the Framptons of Morton.
Farms, higher and lower, appear always to have been
two separate farms, one having belonged to the Turbervilles
at least before 1400, and the other to Tarrant Abbey, although
the Turbervilles acquired it also after the dissolution. John
Filiol who died in 1403 seems also to have held land at Stockley,
but possibly as a lessee. Both farms passed to the Drax family
with the remainder of the manor in the 18th century. From
1614 to 1657 the term Stockley was
given to a large district for the purpose of church rate assessment,
and included the whole of the Bere Heath area as well as Chamberlaynes
The name is probably derived from the word 'hide' meaning
a farming unit, a term in use at the time of the Domesday
survey (1086) and before, as an approximate measure of land
area. Hyde has always been a separate manor or estate which
in early times belonged to Tarrant Abbey, and in 1293 the
annual income in rents from it amounted to £2.75. In
1534, shortly before the dissolution of the abbey the annual
income had risen to £4.40:-
worth per annum, in uncertain rents:
Of Wheat, one quarter .....................................................
Of Barley, five quarters ..................................................
Of Oats, four quarters ......................................................
In uncertain rents: Of four oxen ................................
£1 12s. Od.
Of four cows ...............................................................£1
the dissolution of the abbey Hyde manor was granted to Thomas
Trenchard, but between 1603 and 1625 it was purchased by John
Ryves whose family held it at least until 1725. The estate
was valued at £100 per annum in 1641. The Hyde branch
of the Ryves family appear to have died out at some time in
the 18th century, and the manor was purchased by William Gaisford
Peach who in 1837 re-sold it to Charles James Radclyffe whose
family retained it until well into this century.
Farm is the last downstream valley farm in the parish.
It does not appear to be referred to in any early deeds or
documents but an old cottage and barn date from the 18th century.
The farm probably owes its origin to Luke Budden, or farmer
Budden as he was sometimes called, in about 1730. From 1701
to 1717 a widow Budden occurs in the church rate assessments
holding a property called Hernsmead or Hernes meadow with
a rateable value of 2d. and her son Luke appears to have inherited
this property at the same rate in both 1723 and 1725. By 1735
however Luke Budden's rateable value had risen to 2s. 2d.
and indicates the acquisition of a farm approaching the size
of Philliols which was then rated at 2s. lOd. in 1731 "farmer
Budden" received a payment for vermin heads from the
churchwarden responsible for the heath district, denoting
that he had by that time acquired the status of a farmer,
and was living in that part of the parish.
interesting glimpse into the state of farming in the parish
is afforded as a result of the Napoleonic wars (1795-1815)
when Napoleon Bonaparte had overrun most of Europe and invasion
of England seemed to be imminent. Among other preparations
for a possible invasion, arrangements were made for the evacuation
of livestock from an approximately ten miles wide coastal
strip, and for them to be driven to certain prearranged points
in 1796 farmers in this coastal strip were required to furnish
information relating to the number of live-stock to be moved
and the men they had available to assist. They were also required
to state the acreages of their various crops. The southern
part of this parish came within the coastal strip and 8 farmers
in the Hyde and Bere Heath area gave statistics. The farms
concerned were an average of 9 1/4 miles from the sea and
5 miles from "the place fixed for driving the stock."
There were 8 "servants that can be mounted on horse-back
to assist in driving stock," and 13 "servants on
foot that can be furnished with Pick-axes, Shovels etc."
Between them they had 40 horses, 172 cows and 538 sheep, and
the collective acreages of their crops were:
............................ 7712- acres (31 hectares)
barley ........................... 143 acres (57.2 hectares)
oats .............................. 43 acres (17.2 hectares)
peas ............................. 5 acres (2 hectares)
hay .............................. 279 acres (111.6 hectares)
farmers from another part of the parish also gave statistics
and were an average of 10 miles from the sea and 5 1/4 miles
from where the stock was to be driven, and six mounted men
were available. Their stock consisted of 39 horses, 114 cows,
1740 sheep, and the collective acreages of their crops were:
............................ 154 acres (61.6 hectares)
barley ............................ 298 acres (119.2 hectares)
oats .............................. 102 acres ( 40.8 hectares)
peas .............................. 11 acres ( 4.4 hectares)
hay ............................... 175 acres ( 70 hectares)
none of these measures needed to be put into effect as the
invasion did not materialise, but the threat prompted some
interesting agricultural statistics which would not otherwise
have been known. Another preparation for this threatened invasion
took the form of the establishment of a kind of "early
warning system" of chains of beacons stretching from
the south coast to London. They were prepared for lighting
at short notice and were so placed on suitable hill sites
that each could be seen from its neighbour.
the enemy fleet being sighted in the channel, a beacon on
the coast would have been lighted, seen by the watchers at
the next one inland, which in its turn would have been lighted,
and so on until the news reached London more rapidly than
by any other method available at the time. There were 31 of
beacons in Dorset, one of which was on Woodbury Hill.
labourers had always been poorly paid and in such a rural
area this was inevitably reflected in the economic situation
of the parish as a whole, but this was alleviated to some
extent due to the existence of the open common fields in which
the villagers could go some way towards supplementing their
meagre incomes. By the end of the 18th century the industrial
revolution was beginning to have an adverse effect on rural
areas and agricultural wages were approaching their lowest
point. This situation was aggravated by the breakdown of the
manorial system which had lasted for centuries, the amalgamation
of farms to form larger units, and the gradual but inevitable
enclosure of the open common fields. In addition the Napoleonic
Wars caused further agricultural depression, and matters came
to a head in November and December 1830 when bands of farm
labourers attacked the houses of those they considered in
some way responsible for their situation, set fire to ricks,
and destroyed threshing machines-a new innovation which they
considered to be one particular cause of their plight. It
was only some four years later that the men of Tolpuddle reacted
in a much more peaceable way and yet achieved so much more
in the long run, in spite of their severe punishment. The
rioters were particularly active in this area, and as a result
71 prisoners were tried at a special assize at Dorchester
in January 1831. The following extract is part of a letter
from Mr. C. B. Wollaston, chairman of the appeal court, to
Mr. Okeden who presided at the criminal court:
I have now scarcely time to tell you that I arrived on Friday
into this disturbed county and almost immediately set off
for Morton Hall, where Frampton was protecting his house against
an intended attack from the inhabitants of Beer, of which
he had had information - they having been exasperated against
him personally, by his having gone there for the purpose of
swearing in special constables and taking other means of protection-in
opposition. I think they were encouraged by the defiant conduct
of Mr. Drax, of which you will hear more.
matter was also referred to in the diary of Mary Frampton
of Moreton, whose brother is mentioned in the above extract:
Nov. 22, 1830 the first risings took place in this county.
Mr. Portman immediately promised to raise the wages of his
labourers, and by doing this without concert with other gentlemen,
greatly increased their difficulties. My brother Frampton
harangued the people at Bere Regis and argued with them on
the impropriety of their conduct, refuaing to concede to their
demands whilst asked with menaces. This spirited conduct caused
him to be very unpopular, and threats were issued against
him and his house.
1841, according to the census returns for that year, when
the total population of the parish had risen to 1,394, there
were 20 farmers in the parish employing between them 161 agricultural
labourers, but by 1851 when the population had increased to
1494, there were 30 farmers and 186 agricultural labourers
in addition to 29 ploughboys. Click the photo below to see
some local farmers on a break in Victorian times -
flour was naturally closely allied to farming, and it is not
surprising that a parish with two rivers or streams should
have been liberally supplied with watermills. Most of them
continued to function as such until the beginning of this
century, but fell into disuse when it became more economic
to centralise milling at larger plants. Even so many of the
old mill buildings survive in a readily recognisable form,
and in some cases even some of the machinery remains.
watermill existed at Doddings as long ago as 1086 when it
is referred to in the Domesday survey of that year, and doubtless
there were others in the parish at that time, but as the manor
was royal demesne no details are given.
Hyde and Roke farms two identical water wheels still exist
and are interesting for being made principally of iron. Although
the spokes are of wood the water vanes, rims and other portions
are of iron, the driving cogs being situated on the insides
of the rims, and at Roke much of the driving shaft and mechanism
also survives in good condition. Both of the wheels were made
by Lott and Walne of Dorchester and must have been among the
last to be manufactured in Dorset. West Mill at the west end
of the village, although formerly used for grinding corn,
appears to have been used as a saw-mill in its latter years,
according to the 1902 ordnance map. Click the photo below
to see a photo of the saw mill in use in Victorian times -
was another mill at Southbrook situated at Elders Mead, now
occupied by Manor Cottages, the watercress beds west of the
road and part of the existing field south west of the church.
In 1777, according to Isaac Taylor's map, the tenant of this
mill was R. Shave. Chamberlaynes Mill was established at least
before 1541, and the later mill building and mill stream still
days when hay and corn ricks were invariably thatched and
when almost every cottage in the village was roofed with thatch,
the demand for thatchers must have been high, and yet surprisingly
there were only 7 thatchers in the parish in 1841, and even
this number had dropped to 5 by 1851. On the other hand woodmen,
engaged presumably in making thatching spars, hurdles, faggots
and other such items had increased in numbers from 10 in 1841
to no less than 34 in 1851.
farmers seem to have used carpentry as a stand-by trade
at times of agricultural depression, and their probably
rougher quality work was perhaps responsible for the origin
of the derogatory term 'hedge-carpentry.' It is, therefore,
significant that as the number of farmers increased from
20 in 1841 to 30 in 1851, the number of carpenters dropped
during the same period from 18 to 12. Carpenters seem always
to have been in demand in a village of this size and many
are referred to in the old churchwardens accounts in connection
with repairs to the church, seats and bell frame etc.; and
one family named Gould produced successive generations of
carpenters during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, concerned
very largely with the provision and maintenance of permanent
fair buildings on Woodbury Hill.
the 19th century the number of carpenters running their
own businesses varied from 3 in 1830 to 7 in 1875, some
of them employing several men. Henry Galton, described as
a cabinet maker in 1830, had added a second string to his
bow by 1842 when he was described as a "cabinet maker
& beer retailer". He seems to have died between
1853 and 1859 for he does not appear in the directory for
the latter year, but "Henry Galton, carpenter,"
presumably his son and namesake, reappears in the 1865 directory.
By 1875 he had become "Henry Clarke Galton, carpenter,
assistant overseer & collector of taxes," and by
1880 he was offering some of his products to a wider market
-"Henry Clarke Galton, builder, cabinet maker &
maker of the improved `Guest' table. See advertisement".
The advertisement in the directory, which covered Dorset
as a whole, shows a three legged circular stool-like table
and the legend:
improved "Guest" table, (registered design). These
tables are made in Polished Oak and Ebonized mounted with
Blue and White China of the choicest patterns (5 of which
have been supplied to HRH the Prince of Wales). Packed and
put on Rail at 25s. (£1.25) each. Sole Manufacturer
H. C. Galton, Bere Regis, Blandford, Dorset.
making was an industry which flourished in Bere Regis during
the first half of the 19th century. Clothwork hand embroidered
buttons on a horn disc base were first manufactured in Dorset
at Shaftesbury by Abraham Case at the beginning of the 18th
century, and later his grandson, carrying on the family
business, evolved a wire framework to replace the old horn
base. Another member of the same family established the
business in Bere Regis about the middle of the 18th century,
and this was
carried on by successive members of the Case family until
the middle of the 19th century when machine made buttons
began to replace the hand made version.
central depot for the button trade in this area was at Milborne
St. Andrew, and the square there on a friday was said to
have been thronged with people from the surrounding countryside
bringing in their week's work and collecting their payment.
The buttons were made almost exclusively by women and girls
in their own homes, and so seriously was the industry taken
that in Bere Regis in 1851 there were said to be several
schools which specialised in teaching button making. In
1.841 there were 11 button makers in the parish, but this
number had increased to 69 by 1851 and marked the climax
of the trade, as numbers had decreased to 12 by 1861 when
button making seems to have largely given way to cotton
the Bagshot beds thin out and terminate over the chalk,
suitable brick clay is found in the parish and brick works
became established at Brick Hill near Doddings and at Black
Hill. The Brick Hill works, where the old Kiln still exists,
was the older of the two, probably established at some time
during the 18th century, and continued to function at least
until 1911. The Black Hill works were probably established
during the 19th century, and its kiln, drying platform with
factory-like brick chimney, and even the railway lines and
trucks remained on the site until the Second World War.
Click the photo below to see the Brick Hill works in around
were a number of other small trades carried on in Bere Regis
during the 19th century, details of which may be obtained
from the census returns of 1841, 1851 and 1861 and the various
trade directories already referred to, which appeared at
approximately 5 yearly intervals from 1830 onwards. The
following list of the numbers of people engaged in the various
occupations, trades and professions is for 1851, a year
which is fully covered by both a comprehensive directory
and census returns. The occupations are in alphabetical
labourers ......... 186 laundresses ............... 10
baker ........................... 1 lime burner ..................
barrister (a visitor) ............ 1 maltster .....................
basket maker ..................... 1 masons .....................
blacksmiths .................. 9 millers ..........,..........
brewer ........................... 1 milliners ..................
bricklayers ..................... 13 nurses ......,.,...........,
brick makers ..................... 4 ostlers (and grooms)
builders ........................ 2 physicians .........,..,.....
butter factor ..................... 1 ploughboys .„.........„,
butcher ...,.................... 1 plumber .....................
button makers .................. 69 postmistress ....„.........
carpenters ..................... 12 relieving officer .........,..
carriers ........................ 2 road labourer .........,..,.,
charwoman ..................... 1 road surveyor ..,.,..,......,
coachman ..................... 1 saddlers ...........„........
confectioner .....„.......„.. 1 sawyers .....,.....,.....,..,
cooks ........................... 2 scholars .....,.....,.....,.,
coopers ........................ 4 schoolteachers ,..,...,...,
dairymen ........................ 3 servants .....,......,.„„„,
draper .....................,..... 1 shepherds ....... 6
dressmakers ........,......... 15 shoemakers .........,....,
farmers ........................ 30 shopkeepers „........,.„,
footmen ........................ 3 tailors ............,.„„„,
gamekeepers .................. 3 tallowchandler .,.......„,
grocers ........................ 6 thatchers ...„...,...„„„
independent minister ......... 1 tinker ...,.....,.....„„„„,
inland revenue officer ....„... 1 tinsmith ....,..„..,.„„„„
innkeepers ..................„, 4 toll gate keepers
ironmonger .................. 1 vicar .........,.,.„„„„„,
joiners (and cabinet makers) 3 wagoners ...........,..„„
knitter ...................,....... 1 woodmen ..................
trade directory for 1851 gives the number of milliners as
7 against the 2 recorded in the census returns, but as they
are all described as "milliner & c" in the
directory they may have been dressmakers as well and included
in that category for the purpose of the census. In fact
it was by no means unusual during the 19th century for a
person to have two or more trades as a kind of insurance
against lean times in one or the other, and in some cases
they are amusingly incongruous. For example in 1842 there
were a "butcher & beer retailer," a "cabinet
maker & beer retailer" and a "bricklayer &
beer retailer," whilst in 1851 there were a "blacksmith,
grocer and draper," a "farmer and road surveyor,"
a "grocer and ironmonger," a "grocer and
cooper" and a "beer retailer & farmer."
Perhaps the best combination appears in the directory for
1859 describing the proprietor of what is now the Central
Hamilton Mundell-grocer, ironmonger, bookseller, seedsman,
vendor of patent medicines, & agent to the Eagle Life
idea of selling both patent medicines and life insurance
over the same counter was nothing less than inspired, and
same year we get:
Satchell, drtiggist, grocer, painter, plumber & glazier.
this case any connection there may have been between the
trades is not so apparent.
1851 there must have been at least 13 shops in the village,
in addition to the premises of tailors, milliners and shoemakers.
Ten of these shops sold groceries among other things, and
although some are still shops today, others have since reverted
to dwelling houses. Two examples of the latter are 38 West
Street and 95 North Street, both of which still retain old
shop windows. Click the photo below to see 'Hatton Stores'
on West Street in 1900 -
details are known of shops and traders in the village before
the 19th century, apart from isolated references in the
old churchwardens accounts, but Thomas Speare was a substantial
Bere Regis trader during the 17th century, as his business
seems to have been sufficient to warrant the issue of his
own trade token coinage. A family of Speares was established
in the village at least before 1589 and "Thomas Speare,
mercer" (i.e. trader) is referred to in 1614 and 1630.
certain periods there were no official issues of small value
coins such as farthings, halfpennies and pennies, and this
made small scale transactions extremely difficult. Accordingly
certain cities, towns and private traders took matters into
their own hands and unofficially minted their own token
coinage. The first of these periods was between 1649 and
1672 when the token coins were usually of thin brass stamped
with the name of the issuer, usually a tradesman, and the
date and place of issue. 29 places in Dorset are known to
have issued tokens at this time, one of which was Bere Regis.
The Bere Regis token has the entwined initials TS as a central
device on each side and perimeter lettering as follows:
reverse-OF BEEARE REGES
lists another coin as a Bere Regis token inscribed:
WILLIAM LODGE Of BEARE
reverse-His HALFE PENNY 1668.
second token, however, was probably not issued here,as the
name Lodge does not occur in any of the known parish records
and the Beare referred to could be some other village with
the same name, especially as the `Regis' component does
not appear. Between 1775 and 1797 further tokens were issued,
Poole and Sherborne town issues being most common in Dorset.
Several coins were found in the parish during 1964, including
a Poole token 1/2 d. of 1795, a Sherborne token 1/2 d. of
1797 and an Inverness token 1/2 d. of 1797. Further tokens
were issued between 1807 and 1821 but these are less common.
account of the industries associated with Bere Regis would
be complete without reference to the watercress industry
founded at Doddings in 1892 by William Bedford. He moved
here from Hertfordshire, having found at Doddings natural
springs and a stream in close proximity, creating ideal
conditions for watercress growing, and from this small beginning
he subsequently established further beds not only at Southbrook
(`Manor') and Roke (`Hollybush') in this parish, but at
several surrounding villages. Click the photo below to see
some watercress picking in Bere Regis circa 1900 -
addition to the watercress beds Mr. Bedford also ran Doddings
farm and continued the operation of the Brick Hill brickworks,
at least until 1911 according to the trade directories.
By 1907 he had formed a partnership with Mr. Arthur Dwight
of Chamberlaynes Farm, the firm then being known as Bedford
and Dwight, but by 1920 Mr. F. Jesty had come into the firm
and its present name Bedford and Jesty was then established.
In 1924 the firm earned the distinction of being the first
to use a brand name for a vegetable product when it introduced
the term "Sylvasprings," and by this time it had
grown to the foremost and largest of its kind in England,
sending watercress to most of the large towns and cities
in the country, particularly the midlands and north. Click
the Image below to see the Sylvasprings Logo -
the photo below to see the watercress beds in 1905 -
methods of packaging, storage and despatch have changed
considerably over the years, the basic process of `pulling'
or `cutting' by hand still remains. Bedford and Jesty have
many times been the first to adopt a new innovation which
has later become standard practice among watercress growers
as a whole. As an example, it was at one time customary
for watercress to be packed loose in returnable flat baskets,
or `flats' as they were called, and Mr. Bedford introduced
the idea of tying the cress into bunches and packing them
in non-returnable chips. Thus the old mill building at Doddings
which is called the `flat house' owes this name, not to
its shape, but to its having formerly been used for the
storage of `flats'.
more recent years greater mechanisation in packaging, storage
and transport has brought about inevitable changes, and
these processes have now been centralised at a large depot
at Southbrook, so replacing the smaller individual bunching
and packing sheds at each separate group of beds. Click
the old photo below to see the large depot at Southbrook
on this scale depend on efficient communications. The history
of transport in Bere Regis naturally reflects the development
of the road system in and around the parish, and as referred
to previously, this village was singularly isolated until
the advent of the Dorchester, Poole and Wimborne turnpike
roads in 1841-now represented by the present A35 and A31.
The 18th century coaching era had passed this village by
and the only connection to neighbouring towns was by way
of narrow, meandering tracks and lanes unsuitable and often
impassable for wheeled vehicles. Hence in 1830 the only
public transport available was that offered by William Taper
who operated his horse drawn `carrier' service twice a week-to
Dorchester on Saturdays and to Poole on Thursdays.
1842, just after completion of the turnpike roads he ran
an additional service to Poole, and by 1846 Robert Shaddock
was operating a second carrier service, so that between
them there was a service to Dorchester on Wednesdays with
two each Saturday, and two to Poole on both Mondays and
Thursdays. With horse drawn carriers the destination point
at the town was of necessity an inn with stabling accommodation,
in the case of Dorchester the `Phoenix' Inn, and it is interesting
that the `Phoenix' continued to be the 'bus stop for Bere
Regis for some thirty years after the horse drawn carriers
1851 when the population of Bere Regis had reached nearly
1,500, four carriers were operating, giving services to
Dorchester, Poole, Wareham and Wimborne several times each
week, and by 1859, although Reuben Day and Robert Poore
were the only carriers operating, they appear to have been
doing so on a full-time basis, covering Blandford, Dorchester,
Poole and Wareham. Reuben Day appears to have died shortly
after 1865, as Mrs. Selina Day had become the principal
carrier by 1867, continuing as such at least until 1889.
She was succeeded by Charles Day, presumably her son, who
had already been concerned in the business, and he continued
it in conjunction with farming until at least 1898, but
by 1903 he appears to have reverted entirely to farming.
1895 to 1911 the number of carriers operating varied between
two and four, until in 1915 there were five-William and
Frank Hoare, Ernest Roper, Frederick Roper, Charlton Toms
and George Vacher - the latter subsequently taking over
the Ropers' business. However the days of the horse drawn
carriers were numbered, and not to last much beyond the
end of the first world war.
the horse drawn carrier days the journey to Dorchester or
Poole was a lengthy business, and departure from the village
seems normally to have been 8.30 a.m. after 1907. Private
hire parties where even longer journeys were involved meant
correspondingly longer traveling times, and interesting
glimpses of such occasions are afforded by descriptions
of choir and Sunday school outings in old parish magazines.
For example on 4 August, 1887 the Bere and Kingston choirs
took part in a choral festival at Weymouth:
the least enjoyable part of the day was the drive, which
occupied about three hours. Weymouth was reached between
11 and 12 o'clock, and a pic-nic dinner was partaken of
on the beach. ......... Punctually at 8 o'clock, Mr Day
started on the homeward journey, ......... and before mid-night
a long, but pleasant and successful day was brought to a
160 Sunday school children from Bere and Kingston were taken
for an outing to Swanage on 28 July, 1908, they were conveyed
by "one motor, six cycles, four waggonettes and six
waggons"-a mixture of motor, human and horse power.
Even steam power was sometimes used, as after a similar
outing on 8 August, 1916 the vicar expressed his thanks
in the parish magazine to:
Cobb for his Traction Engine and Trucks, to Mr. Miller for
kindly providing the board-seating for the Trucks, to Mr.
Bedford for petrol for the Motor Bus which he was so good
as to provide and which greatly added to our convenience
of transport . . .
the 18th century coaching era passed Bere Regis by, so for
the same geographical reasons, did the 19th century railway
age, perhaps fortunately in retrospect. Even so, in 1899
a proposal had been put forward to run a branch line from
Dorchester to Blandford via Puddletown, Tolpuddle, Bere
Regis, Anderson and Zelston, and the scheme had got as far
as the appointment of a London firm of surveyors to survey
and plan the route in detail. No railway station then...!
1919 George Vacher gave up his horse drawn vehicles and
acquired a motor 'bus thereby starting the first Bere Regis
based motor service, to Dorchester on Wednesdays and Saturdays
and to Poole on Mondays and Thursdays. It is noticeable
that one immediate effect of the use of 'buses was to delay
the departure time from the previous 8.30am to 10am, although
Henry Farr who by 1920 had started a motor service to Wareham
on Thursdays and Saturdays continued to leave at 9.00 a.m.
as in the horse drawn days. Click the photo below to have
a look at Mr Vachers motor 'bus -
1927 George Vacher was operating on a larger scale with
at least two vehicles, running services to Blandford, Bournemouth,
Dorchester, Poole, Wareham and Wimborne, most of them twice
a week. In September 1930 his business was taken over by
Hants and Dorset Motor Services, and he was then appointed
area manager, running that company's office which formed
part of a waiting room adjoining 31 West Street, until his
retirement in the 1950's.
term `carrier' remained in use to describe the new motor
services in official publications until at least 1927, but
by 1931 the term had been dropped, and to quote the trade
directory for that year:
& Dorset Motor Services Ltd maintain a frequent service
to Blandford, Bournemouth, Dorchester, Poole, Wareham &
the motor 'bus had completely replaced the horse drawn carrier
before 1920 the term 'carrier' continued to be applied locally
to the market day buses to Wareham until recent years.
29 October, 1929 Mr. R. W. Toop, a former employee of George
Vacher, started his own 'bus service, thereby establishing
what was later to become known as Bere Regis and District
Motor Services. This company grew rapidly and has become
one of the largest of private motor companies operating
public and hire services all over the county with depots
in several Dorset towns. In latter years the company has
specialised in private hire work, and coaches in their familiar
brown livery can be encountered almost anywhere in Britain.
Click the photo below to see Mr Toop and one of his coaches
in 1936 -
the end of the Second World War public transport has steadily
declined in favour of the private motor car. This fact,
coupled with increased industrial mechanisation and other
social changes, has influenced village life considerably-not
only by the volume of traffic congesting the village streets.
Until the end of the 19th century and beyond, when almost
every inhabitant worked in the parish, the village was almost
entirely self-sufficient with shops and tradesmen to cater
for every need. Now, however, the pattern of village life
is very different. Ease of transport to neighbouring towns
has enabled a high proportion of the inhabitants to work
and shop outside the parish, with the result that the village
is becoming a purely residential centre rather than the
trading centre it was in former days.
Bere Regis Village Website 2005 - Site by Chola Design