|WEB NEWS 63|
In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief at the Heaver Coach Builders and Whitshire Moonrakers
Heavers Coach Builders
- The small village of Durrington, just north of Amesbury on the
edge of Salisbury Plain was an unlikely place to find a coach
builder. In 1901its population was just 427 but twenty years later
had increased to 3005, caused mainly by the inclusion of Larkhill
camp, which contributed 2000 army personnel and their families. John
Heaver was born at Hammersmith in 1883, the son of a plate layer and
nephew of a coach trimmer. He started in the carriage trade aged 14,
working for George Peters whose business was in arches under the
Metropolitan Railway viaduct at Studland Street. In 1915, and now
married, John was drafted into the Army Service Corp at Bulford Camp
in Wiltshire. Here he remained throughout the 1914-18 war,
maintaining all types of military vehicles, including ambulances,
cars, lorries and steam tractors. Sadly his wife, Sophie, died in
1918, leaving him with three small children to bring up, so John’s
parents moved down from Hammersmith to help. His aunt and uncle
Abbot also moved to Durrington and together they worked hard to
build up John’s business of motor repairer and coach builder,
combining skills he had learned in London and in the army. By 1922
John had remarried and had a bungalow built in Bulford Road with a
workshop at the rear measuring approximately 116 ft x 55 ft.
Extensive advertising helped bring in orders for work and the first
large job came later the same year for a charabanc, thought to have
been for an Amesbury operator. This was the beginning of a long
production of bodies for numerous companies all over the country and
some to Africa.
In 2009 Peter Heaver, grandson of the founder, donated Heaver material to the WHOTT archive and from this we produce some idea this small business had in providing bodies for new vehicles or second bodies on existing vehicles for west country operators. The Heaver business finally shut down in 1957, with design materials passing to Reading Coach Builders of Portsmouth, who continued to supply some long established Heaver customers, such as the Guernsey Motors. Below is a view taken in the late ‘twenties of Heaver’s workshop with what looks like a Bentley tourer parked outside. As work increased, Heaver had larger premises built on the other side of the road in which double-decks could be accommodated.
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- Trawling through the archive we have discovered some more gems
that solve one or two mysteries and at the same time raise more
queries, answers to which some of our readers may be able to help.
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