The horse-drawn carters and carriers first proliferated, then eventually declined, as the invention of the combustion engine introduced motorised transport to the area. Some village tradesmen, looking to the future, moved with the times. For instance, as the tractor superseded the horse, so the blacksmith, having acquired the skills to service the motor car, turned his forge into the village garage, now Levers Garage on the A30.
Originally opened in 1925 by Witt and Lever but subsequently becoming Lever and King, serviced vehicles, sold petrol and even made bicycles to order. They also ran a regular bus service from Fovant through surrounding villages to Salisbury. Perhaps this was the village bus; initially a Bean bought in 1935, later replaced by a blue and cream Commer. Each in turn was housed in a large shed, now the private garage of Riverside, in the High Street.
Motor cars were still a rarity at this time, but the Reverend Maitland Arthur Shorland, Rector of Fovant from 1898–1919, owned one of the first private cars to appear in the village. As the following details, taken from Early Motor Vehicle Registrations in Wiltshire 1903-14 , edited by Ian Hicks, show, he was not the only car owner in Fovant during this period:
AM 1465 4 Aug 1909 – Rev. Maitland Arthur Shorland, Fovant Rectory, Salisbury. 18/22 Scout, four-cylinder, (tonneau side entrance body, green, wheels yellow), van body, painted dark blue, 23 cwt; (private), trade, (public conveyance – 12 June 1914)
AM 3606 10 March 1914 – Rev. M.A. Shorland, Fovant Rectory, near Salisbury. 15.9 hp Scout touring car, four-seater torpedo, lavender, approx. 23 cwt; private.
AM 4532 1 Dec 1914 – George Harry Cyril Futcher (farmer and parish clerk, West Farm), Fovant, Salisbury. 20 hp Ford, four-seater, black; 15 cwt (private) trade.
A commercial vehicle was also registered to Fovant at this time:
AM 4383 15 Dec 1914. Macdonald Gibbs and Co., Fovant. 20 hp Ford delivery van; black; 14 cwt.
In the 1920s a village taxi, owned and run by John Jarvis, made regular journeys to the local market and was also used at weekends for more leisurely pursuits. Coach hire firms, which came into being during the early 1930s, also catered for the holiday trade by offering trips to the seaside or the zoo.
Concurrently, Nadder Valley and the Wilts and Dorset Bus Companies, started to run regular passenger services along the A30 between Salisbury and Shaftesbury. Somewhat later, in 1953, Doctor Clay noted in his account of ‘Fovant in Coronation Year’, that ‘there are thirty two private cars, and several vans and lorries, and ten to twelve tractors’ in the village. Largely speaking, any Fovant-based motorised vehicle at this time would have been connected to one of the village trades. However, the wider private ownership of cars was hovering on the horizon.
Gradually, as motorised transport provided the link between village and town, the need for village-based skills dwindled and with little exception faded away. The introduction of public transport, coupled with a wider opportunity for people to improve their skills, gave rise not only to a wide range of new trades, but also to the possibility of practising those skills beyond the village, whilst still remaining Fovant residents. As the village ‘opened up’, the increasing affluence of the villagers, coupled with the wider variety of leisure activities on offer, led to the gradual acquisition of more privately owned vehicles. In a relatively short space of time travel by car, bus, train, steamship and air, for work or play, had become commonplace, whilst the horse was mainly used for leisure.
In a relatively short space of time travel by car, bus, train, steamship and air had become commonplace, whilst the horse is now used for leisure.
Click on the links below to find more information on motor transport in Fovant and a long-remembered engineer: