History of the Village Industries from 1335 onwards

From 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.

In 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:

Roke 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 -

Shitterton 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.

Southbrook. 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 -

Court 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 -

Doddings 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 -

Philliols 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.

Chamberlaynes 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.

Culeaze 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.

Stockley 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 and Doddings.

Hyde. 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:-

Hyde worth per annum, in uncertain rents:
Of Wheat, one quarter ..................................................... 5s. 4d.
Of Barley, five quarters .................................................. 13s. 4d.
Of Oats, four quarters ...................................................... 5s. 4d.
In uncertain rents: Of four oxen ................................ £1 12s. Od.
Of four cows ...............................................................£1 12s. Od.
Total...........................................................................£4 8s. Od.

After 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.

Buddens 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.

An 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 further inland.

Accordingly, 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:

wheat ............................ 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)

Six 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:

wheat ............................ 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)

Fortunately 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.

Upon 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 such beacons in Dorset, one of which was on Woodbury Hill.

Agricultural 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:

Dorchester, Friday
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.

The matter was also referred to in the diary of Mary Frampton of Moreton, whose brother is mentioned in the above extract:

On 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.

By 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 -

Making 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.

A 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.

At 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 -

There 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 exist.

In 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.

Many 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.

During 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:

The 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.

Button 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.

The 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 glove making.

Where 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 1885 -

There 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 order:

agricultural labourers ......... 186 laundresses ............... 10
baker ........................... 1 lime burner .................. 1
barrister (a visitor) ............ 1 maltster ..................... 1
basket maker ..................... 1 masons ..................... 6
blacksmiths .................. 9 millers ..........,.......... 8
brewer ........................... 1 milliners .................. 2
bricklayers ..................... 13 nurses ......,.,..........., 3
brick makers ..................... 4 ostlers (and grooms) ...... 3
builders ........................ 2 physicians .........,..,..... 2
butter factor ..................... 1 ploughboys .„.........„, 29
butcher ...,.................... 1 plumber ..................... 1
button makers .................. 69 postmistress ....„......... 1
carpenters ..................... 12 relieving officer .........,.. 1
carriers ........................ 2 road labourer .........,..,., 1
charwoman ..................... 1 road surveyor ..,.,..,......, 1
coachman ..................... 1 saddlers ...........„........ 3
confectioner .....„.......„.. 1 sawyers .....,.....,.....,.., 2
cooks ........................... 2 scholars .....,.....,.....,., 110
coopers ........................ 4 schoolteachers ,..,...,..., 4
dairymen ........................ 3 servants .....,......,.„„„, 31
draper .....................,..... 1 shepherds ....... 6
dressmakers ........,......... 15 shoemakers .........,...., 15
farmers ........................ 30 shopkeepers „........,.„, 3
footmen ........................ 3 tailors ............,.„„„, 7
gamekeepers .................. 3 tallowchandler .,.......„, 1
grocers ........................ 6 thatchers ...„...,...„„„ 5
independent minister ......... 1 tinker ...,.....,.....„„„„, 1
inland revenue officer ....„... 1 tinsmith ....,..„..,.„„„„ 1
innkeepers ..................„, 4 toll gate keepers ............ 2
ironmonger .................. 1 vicar .........,.,.„„„„„, 1
joiners (and cabinet makers) 3 wagoners ...........,..„„ 7
knitter ...................,....... 1 woodmen .................. 34

The 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 Stores:

Joseph Hamilton Mundell-grocer, ironmonger, bookseller, seedsman, vendor of patent medicines, & agent to the Eagle Life office.

The idea of selling both patent medicines and life insurance over the same counter was nothing less than inspired, and in the same year we get:

Thomas Satchell, drtiggist, grocer, painter, plumber & glazier.

In this case any connection there may have been between the trades is not so apparent.

In 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 -

Few 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.

At 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:


Hutchins lists another coin as a Bere Regis token inscribed:

reverse-His HALFE PENNY 1668.

This 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.

No 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 -

In 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 -

Click the photo below to see the watercress beds in 1905 -

Although 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'.

In 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 -

Industries 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.

By 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 had disappeared.

By 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.

From 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.

In 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:

Not 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 close.

When 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:

Mr. 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 . . .

As 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...!

In 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 -

By 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.

The 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:

Conveyance-Hants & Dorset Motor Services Ltd maintain a frequent service to Blandford, Bournemouth, Dorchester, Poole, Wareham & Wimborne, daily.

Although 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.

On 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 -

Since 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.

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