Wilts & Dorset

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Wilts & Dorset logo.png
Wilts & Dorset 1135 HF09 BJO.JPG
Scania OmniCity in Salisbury in July 2009
Parent Go-Ahead Group
Founded 1915
Headquarters Poole
Service type Bus services
Chief executive Andrew Wickham
Website www.morebus.co.uk

Wilts & Dorset[1] is a bus operator providing services in East Dorset, South Wiltshire and West Hampshire. It operates services around Bournemouth and Poole under the More brand and around Salisbury and Amesbury under the Salisbury Reds Buses brand. It is a subsidiary of the Go-Ahead Group.

The current bus company has operated since 1983. Wilts & Dorset was also the name of a former Salisbury based bus company from 1915 until 1972.


The history of Wilts & Dorset is an interesting one, with its name both appearing and disappearing from the sides of buses. Its history is linked to that of erstwhile south coast operator, Hants & Dorset.

The original company[edit]

Preserved Bristol Lodekka
Optare Spectra in Bournemouth in April 2005
Leyland Olympian in Southampton in September 2008
Optare Solo in Christchurch in May 2009

Wilts & Dorset Motor Services Limited was incorporated in 1915, with its head office in Amesbury, moving to Salisbury in 1917. The company's first route was between Salisbury and Amesbury.[2] The company grew rapidly in the Andover, Amesbury, Blandford Forum, Pewsey and Salisbury areas. The Southern Railway and Thomas Tilling obtained shares in 1931, with Wilts & Dorset being nationalised in 1948. It acquired Venture of Basingstoke in 1950, with a reorganisation following the nationalisation of Venture’s parent, Red & White. Wilts & Dorset acquired Silver Star of Porton Down in June 1963.[3]

Despite the name, the company's operations were mainly in the southern part of Wiltshire and the northern part of Hampshire.

In 1963 the management of Wilts & Dorset passed to Hants & Dorset, a neighbouring state-owned bus company. In 1969 both companies became part of the National Bus Company and in October 1972 were merged under the Hants & Dorset name with the Wilts & Dorset name ceasing to be used.[4]


The Transport Act 1985 led to the privatisation of the National Bus Company. In preparation for privatisation, in April 1983 Hants & Dorset was split into three operating companies, one of which was Wilts & Dorset Bus Company.[1][4]

The new Wilts & Dorset company's operating area was considerably larger than its older namesake, including Swanage, Poole, Bournemouth, Lymington and Salisbury, although not Basingstoke. Depots were located in Blandford Forum, Lymington, Pewsey, Poole, Ringwood, Salisbury and Sawanage.[4]


In June 1987 Wilts & Dorset was sold to in a management buyout.[5] The company fought off competition from Charlie's Cars[6] and Badger Vectis.[7]

In May 1993 the Damory Coaches, Blandford Forum was purchased followed in November 1993 by Oakfield Travel[8] and Stanbridge & Crichel Bus Company[9] and in January 1994 by Blandford Bus Company.[10] All were combined under the Damory Coaches name.

In August 2003 the business was sold to the Go-Ahead Group.[11] It is now part of Go South Coast.

Coach companies Tourist Coaches, Levers and Kingston Coaches were purchased and consolidated under the Tourist Coaches name;[12] in 2003 Bell's Coaches were added.

In 2011, Wilts & Dorset started trialing a smart card ticketing system named ‘’the key’’; in 2012 it was launched across the entire network with passengers being able to save up to 33% instead of purchasing paper tickets.

In July 2012 it was announced that the Wilts & Dorset name would be dropped from bus services in favour of the More Bus brand in Poole and Bournemouth and Salisbury Reds Buses in Salisbury and Amesbury.


Wilts & Dorset operates a large number of services in East Dorset, West Hampshire and South Wiltshire under six different brand names. Bus services in Poole, Bournemouth and the surrounding areas are branded as More Bus. Bus services in Salisbury, Amesbury and the surrounding areas are branded as Salisbury Reds Buses.

More Bus[edit]

Main article: More Bus

Salisbury Reds[edit]

Main article: Salisbury Reds Buses

Preservation of former Wilts & Dorset buses[edit]

Many former Wilts & Dorset buses have made it into preservation. Some of these can be seen at bus rallies and events inside and outside the company's operating area.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Companies House extract company no 1671355 Wilts & Dorset Bus Company Limited
  2. ^ Wilts & Dorset: Our history
  3. ^ Silver Star Motor Services Ltd Peter Gould
  4. ^ a b c Hants & Dorset Motor Services Ltd Peter Gould
  5. ^ Companies House extract company no 2091878 Wilts & Dorset Holdings Limited
  6. ^ Charlie's Cars Bournemouth & Poole Buses and Trams
  7. ^ Morris, Stephen (Autumn 1996). "From chaos to uneasy peace". Buses Focus 3. 
  8. ^ Oakfield Travel Countrybus
  9. ^ Stanbridge & Crichel Bus Company Countrybus
  10. ^ Damory Coaches Collins Place
  11. ^ Bus buy for Go-Ahead The Guardian 12 August 2003
  12. ^ About Tourist Coaches

External links[edit]