IN 1919 the Wilts and Dorset Motor Services Ltd; purchased their first double-decker omnibus from a firm at Worthing, which was driven to Salisbury – at 12 miles per hour – by Mr AE Cooper (pictured).

That was the beginning of a lifetime of service for on Saturday, September 12 of that year, Mr Cooper officially started his employment with the company, driving Salisbury’s first double-decker between the city and Wilton.

After 40 years and five weeks with the company, Mr Cooper (who was known as Bert to his colleagues) decided to retire. At a special event held at the social club in Endless Street, Mr RIH Longman, the managing director, presented him and his wife with gifts on behalf of his fellow workers.

Thanking his friends for the presentations – which took the form of a smoking outfit, blankets and a cheque – Mr Cooper recalled some of the conditions prevailing when he joined the company. These included the rain soaking him in the winter, and flies attacking him during the summer – because in those days there were no windscreens!

It is also interesting to know that as early as 1915, the Wilts and Dorset Motor Services were running four taxis (two Fords, a Napier and a Hupmobile), and a single-decker bus between Salisbury and Amesbury.

The engine of this bus was assembled locally at the Scout Motor Works which were situated at Bemerton.

This bus was also capable of doing 12 miles per hour and it ran between Amesbury and Salisbury three times a day – once in the morning and twice in the afternoon – travelling via Woodford.

In those days, the bus carried lots of troops into Salisbury and one can only imagine what it was like driving up the steep Lake Hill!

By Frogg Moody