William Graham founded the W.W.Graham Company in Bournemouth in 1905. Later on 17th March 1916, when William Graham joined forces with the British Electric Traction Company and others, the Bournemouth & District Motor Services Ltd company was registered in Bournemouth. This was the fore-runner to Hants & Dorset Motor Services Ltd as it became on 27th July 1920. In that same year, the Tilling Organisation bought an interest in the company.
Under the Transport Act 1968, the fleets of the Tilling Association Ltd and the British Electric Traction group were amalgamated to form the National Bus Company Ltd on 1st January 1969. This comprised the assets of sixty five subsidiary firms. These included Hants & Dorset, Shamrock & Rambler and Wilts & Dorset. Shamrock & Rambler and Wilts & Dorset then came under the control of Hants & Dorset. Provincial Traction Company Ltd, the parent company of the Gosport & Fareham Omnibus Company, was bought by the National Bus Company on 1st January 1970, this too came under Hants & Dorset control.
A complete fleet renumbering scheme involving the Hants & Dorset and Wilts & Dorset fleets was introduced during September 1971.
On 29th April 1973 the stage services and most of the fleet of R.Chisnell & Sons Ltd, trading as King Alfred Motor Services, in the Winchester area, was taken over by Hants & Dorset.
Hants & Dorset took over the Swanage garage, including its local bus services and six buses, transferred from Western National Omnibus Co Ltd, on 1st January 1974. A new Bus Station was built by Swanage Town Council, next to the Railway Station, and was handed over on 17th October 1976.
The coaching concerns of both Hants & Dorset and Shamrock & Rambler were transferred to a new company, National Travel ( South West ) Ltd during 1974.
In two unrelated fires at Basingstoke Bus Station, in 1974, on 21st September and again 9th December, five vehicles were destroyed and many more were damaged.
On the night of 24th/25th of July 1976 there was a large fire at Bournemouth Bus and Coach Station. It is believed to have started in a tyre store in the Coach station below. Over sixteen coaches were destroyed, but around eighty buses parked in the bus station above were all driven to safety. This building was structurally damaged and eventually had to be demolished. The coaching services were moved to Shamrock & Ramblers depot in Holdenhurst Road. The bus services were mover temporarily to Hants & Dorset's old Royal Mews premises, in Norwich Avenue, until being permanently moved to Poole, in November 1980, following the official closure of the remains of the Bournemouth bus station.
In 1978, the government of the day, faced with falling passenger numbers, came up with a scheme called the "Market Analysis Project". The bus going public was consulted, via detailed questionnaires, about their bus service requirements, local authorities were also consulted. This information was processed by NBC's computer company. Hants & Dorset's conclusion was to split the company into twelve operational areas, marketed under seven local identities.
Venturebus was introduced on 2nd September 1979, in the Basingstoke area. The vehicle requirement was reduced from 52 to 40.
Antonbus was introduced on 4th November 1979, in the Andover area. The vehicle requirement was reduced from 28 to 21.
Wiltswaywas introduced on 6th January 1980, in the Salisbury and Wiltshire area, including Fordingbridge. The vehicle requirement was reduced from 96 to 78.
Wintonline was introduced on 27th January 1980, based in the Winchester area, roughly the same as the former King Alfred area. The vehicle requirement was reduced from 18 to 14.
Provincialwas introduced on 28th June 1980, in the Gosport and Fareham areas.
South Hants was introduced on 10th August 1980, in the Southampton and Eastleigh areas, including Romsey and Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, and Petersfield to the east.
South Wessex was introduced on 30th November 1980, in Dorset, and including Ringwood, Lymington and Beaulieu areas in Hampshire.
& Dorset Motor Services Ltd was broken up, on 1st April 1983,
into three bus companies, a coach operator, an engineering company and
a holding company.
& Dorset Bus Company Ltd, operated in the largest of the three
areas, a combination of the former Witsway and South Wessex MAP areas,
with depots at Blandford, Lymington, Pewsey, Poole, Ringwood, Salisbury
and Swanage. It was privatised in June 1987, when it was sold to a former
It still remains independent today.
Bus Company Ltd, operated in the medium sized area, a combination of
the former Antonbus, Venturebus, Wintonline and most of South Hants MAP
areas, with depots at Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Southampton and
Winchester. It was privatised in April 1987, sold to Skipburn Ltd, a holding
company belonging to the Stagecoach Group.
Southern Vectis` subsidiary Musterphantom Ltd, trading as Solent Blue Line, started operating in direct competition with Hampshire Bus in the Southampton area in 1986, the Southampton operation was sold to Musterphantom Ltd in October 1987. Hampshire Bus retreated to north of a line just south of Winchester.
It was renamed Stagecoach (South) Ltd in 1992, and its offices were transferred to Lewes, in Sussex.
Bus Company Ltd, was the smallest of the three areas, a combination
of the Provincial and part of the South Hants MAP areas, and west towards
Hamble and Southampton, with its former depot at Hoeford and the ex Hants
& Dorset bus station at Fareham. The company was privatised on 8th
May 1987, when it was sold in a joint employee and management buyout.
In October 1995 it was sold to the First Group of companies.
& Rambler Coaches Ltd, was the coaching operation, its headquarters
were at Holdenhurst Road in Bournemouth. Hants & Dorset had regained
control of all of Shamrock & Ramblers` Bournemouth and Southampton
coach fleets from National Travel (South West) in May 1981, and on 1st
January 1984 the Southampton part of the operation was transferred to Pilgrims
Coaches Ltd. The Basingstoke operations were absorbed by Hampshire
Bus on 1st January 1984, included were 5 Leyland Leopards. Shamrock &
Rambler was privatised in 6th July 1987, when it was sold to Drawlane Ltd,
part of the Endless Holdings group (who`s offices were in Salisbury next
to the bus station). They also owned London & Country.
As well as running coach services for the National Express network, it started minibus operations in Bournemouth and Poole area, under the name of Charlies Cars, and later buses on stage carriage services under the name S & R buses., these lasted until 3rd December 1988.
The loss of National Express contracts at the end of April 1989 led to the closure of the business.
Dorset Travel Services Ltd was set up by National Express, to take over National Express services, previously operated by Shamrock & Rambler. It is now a subsidiary of Bournemouth Transport.
Pilgrim Coaches Ltd, was privatised in April 1987 and sold to Skipburn Ltd (along with Hampshire Bus), coming under the control of Hampshire Bus, renamed Hampshire Coach.
& Dorset Engineering Ltd, the servicing and maintenance arm, was
based at Barton Park in Eastleigh, but it struggled to compete in the free
market and ceased trading in January 1986. The only part to succeed was
the stores operation, which ran as Hants & Dorset Distribution.
It was sold by NBC, in March 1987, along with seven other engineering concerns to Frontsource Ltd, later to become Bus Parts Ltd.
Hants & Dorset Motor Services Ltd, based in Poole, remained as
the holding company for the other five. It provided accounting and secretarial
services. When the other companies were privatised, its only function was
to sort out the tax affairs that were left outstanding.
Subsequently transferred to NBC`s London headquarters, it went into voluntary liquidation in March 1988, and was finally wound up on 24th November 1990.