Macvent Ltd, trading as Bournemouth Heritage Transport Services, began sight seeing tours in Bournemouth in the summer of 1991, using vehicles from the Bournemouth Museum collection. In 1992, BHT Buses operated the Southampton Heritage Trail, in association with Southampton Citybus. The vehicles used were a pair of former Portmouth Leyland Atlanteans, ERV249 / 52D, with Metro Cammell Weymann bodywork, converted to open top by Portsmouth in the late 1970`s, and supplemented by vehicles from the main BHT collection viz. CRU180C a Gardner engined Daimler Fleetline with Metro Cammell Weymann convertible open top bodywork, formerly with Bournemouth Corporation.
BHT Buses evolved from the need to fund the large collection of preserved vehicles in the care of Bournemouth Heritage Transport. This was ousted from Mallard Road, in 1992, never an ideal location for it as the vehicles were housed in rather cramped conditions and viewing access was restricted. The collection of over 30 vehicles thus moved to the former British Aircraft Corporation site at Hurn airport, near Bournemouth. housed in the hangar that the first BAC 111 was rolled out from in the early 1960`s. The care and maintenance of such a large fleet of buses, trams and trolley buses was putting ever increasing demands on the finances of the museum trust.
At first BHT Buses was set up as a subsidiary of the museum trust, operating excursions and tours in Bournemouth and Southampton. However in view of its expansion into local bus operations in Bournemouth, in competition with Bournemouth Transport, it quickly became a separate entity, despite the fact that some vehicles were hired from the museum at a commercial rate.
Routemaster Bournemouth, the operating name of BHT Buses, used the former Bournemouth Corporation Transport bus and tram depot at Southcote Road as its base. This was, and still is, used by Bournemouth Services, Bournemouth Borough Council's commercial operation, providing road cleaning and refuse services etc. This being so, space was at a premium, having to share space with refuse vehicles etc. There they had use of a small office, serving as rest room, store and operation centre, this being the former paying in office for Bournemouth's bus and trolley bus crews.
The Routemasters from which BHT Buses had derived its operating name, found their way to the south coast via several differing routes. The initial batch of ten had operated in Glasgow, following their retirement from London Transport in the mid 1980's. They were soon repainted into green and cream Routemaster Bournemouth livery. Three other Routemasters were obtained in various states of disrepair. Some of the overhaul, repair and repaint work was bought in from Bournemouth Services, the rest done by BHT Buses staff.
The directors of Macvent Ltd, considered using the redundant name of Hants & Dorset Omnibus , as it had some former Hants & Dorset Bristol Lodekka's in its collection. Because of its previous association with Hants & Dorset, Wilts & Dorset Bus Co. Ltd registered its objection to these plans. Macvent Ltd took note of this and reverted to trading as BHT Buses and subsequently Routemaster Bournemouth.
A firm of solicitors and consultants in Brighton was called upon to register the name of "Hants & Dorset Omnibus Ltd, at Companies House. That firm, with Mrs Pamela Wignall, as Managing Director, was subsequently activated, with a board of directors not related to the former Macvent company, and was granted an operators license for 6 vehicles. There was then a change of heart however, and the board elected, voluntarily to change the name of the company to "Green Buses Ltd" in December 1994.
Wilts & Dorset, through the timely acquisition of the business of Damory Coaches, from the Kimber family of Blandford, bought a shelf company, renamed it Hants & Dorset Motor Services Ltd, trading as Damory Coaches.
As Macvent Ltd and Routemaster Bournemouth had done previously, Hants & Dorset Omnibus Ltd negotiated for the use of vehicles from Bournemouth Transport Museum. Discussions between the Museum and Bournemouth Transport (Yellow Buses), led to a complete change of directors, who thereafter included Ted Reid of Bournemouth Transport Ltd as chairman and Keith Baynton, former managing director of Macvent Ltd and Routemaster Bournemouth (but not of Hants & Dorset Omnibus Ltd), in the same role in this reshaped company, which now called itself Vintage Yellow Buses Ltd. As the name implies, it operates as a direct associate of Yellow Buses, offering vintage sea front and low cost private hire facilities with a fleet repainted in the old Bournemouth Corporation Transport livery.
Vintage Yellow Buses first operated open top seaside tours in the Bournemouth area in the summer of 1995.
All the fleets in
the Group came under direct control of Bournemouth Transport as from 1st