The Tally Ho! story stared back in 1919 when a small holder and rabbit farmer called James Henry Clark (Jimmy) who lived at the Mounts bought a lorry to transport his rabbits to market. In 1923 he bought a new bed for the lorry which converted the back into a coach for use at weekends .
In 1933 after discussion and advice from Bill Wellington he bought a proper bus (a 6 year old De-Dion Bouton 20 seater) to run senior school children from East Allington to the Kingsbridge schools. He called it the Tally Ho! Sunshine Coach and started running day tours at weekends. The coach was based at the Mounts which is on the road from Kingsbridge to Totnes (Now the JB Haulage yard).
Every school day the Tally Ho coach went to and from Kingsbridge, leaving the Mounts and going to East Allington village. Then through narrow twisting hilly Devon lanes to the farms and small settlements at Combe, Coles Cross and Bearscombe before reaching Goveton Village. Excursions were run from East Allington & Goveton at weekends to the Moors, Paignton, Torquay, Dawlish, Teignmouth and Bigbury on Sea. The coach also went to the Buckfast point to point meetings.
In 1934 a second school route was won transporting children from Woodleigh and Loddiswell to Kingsbridge school, they had previously travelled by train. The new vehicle was advertised as the Tally Ho! Sunshine Saloon. The coach business was known widely as Tally Ho coaches.
In September 1939 trains filled with evacuees started arriving in the South Hams from London and Tally Ho! were engaged to transport them to the villages where they were placed with host families.
In 1940 Plymouth was suffering heavy bombing raids and people left the City each night to seek refuge in the countryside, Tally Ho! were contracted to transfer workers each morning and evening to and from the South Hams.
In 1942 Mr Leslie Hard a coach operator of South Brent was called up to fight in the War, Jimmy was asked to temporarily take over his school contract from Diptford to Totnes until Leslie returned after the war, I mention this because Leslie's son Richard was still a driver at Tally Ho! until he retired in 2016.
1943 saw the Americans arrive to occupy 30,000 acres covering eight villages so they could prepare for the invasion of Europe. 750 families had to be moved out within six weeks ending the week before Christmas. Tally Ho! played an important part moving families and their belongings. The Mounts was on the edge of the evacuation zone and Jimmy Clark stored many peoples possessions at the yard.
By 1944 the fleet of Tally Ho! coaches was becoming very tired. The three Albion's, a Chevrolet, a Comer and a Morris were all 10 to 18 years old. The supply of new vehicles was severely limited but due to his help with troop movements the Ministry of Supply agreed that a new Bedford 32 seat vehicle could be bought , the bus (FTT647) arrived in May 1944, the first ever brand new Tally Ho! coach.
In 1945 Salcombe senior school closed and Jimmy won the contract to transport the children to Kingsbridge school, a contract we still hold today.
In 1951 Tally Ho! started to transport the Kingsbridge Rugby Club to local matches and occasional trips to Twickenham for Internationals, they always had the same driver, a talented sportsman called Harold Pike. This helped keep the vehicles busy during the winter, we are very proud to do the Clubs transport today. Harold Pike also looked after transport for the Devon County Cricket team and also played for them.
In the 1950's coaching grew in popularity and Tally Ho flourished. In 1956 a coach load from the Woman's Institute went to the annual rally at the Albert Hall in London which was an exceptionally long trip for Tally Ho! The coach started picking up around the villages at 5.00am and then set off for the journey of over 200 miles to the capital. There were no motorways in those days and it was a long arduous trip via Exeter, Honiton, Salisbury Plain and Staines arriving in the evening, it all went well (to our relief) and they returned safely a couple of days later.
An unusual hirer was a local ironmonger and entrepreneur Mr Cutler who held a franchise to sell catalogues at agricultural shows such as the Bath & West and Devon County Show. For these events the seats were removed from the coach and it was stacked high with books and for a couple of days it served as a Mr Cutler's storeroom, office and sleeping accommodation.
Tally Ho! drivers included Harold Pike (Who started with Jimmy as a rabbit catcher in 1928), Nobby Clark, Bill Banner, Fred Parsons, Jack Tucker, Harold Mitchell (Harold Pike's son in law) the landlord of the pub at Morleigh called Sid, two Irish brothers called Wilson and a Mr Treeby who had previously run a garage at Harbetonford before joining Jimmy as his mechanic.
Meanwhile the Wellington's business had grown and continued to trade as a mix of goods and passenger transport. During the war the numbers travelling were swelled by evacuees and Wellingtons bought a second coach, a 20 seat Comer dating from 1933. In the early post war years a second school contract was won to transfer children from Hope Cove to Kingsbridge. Williams's son Jim joined the business and eventually took over the running of the business in the 1950's.
The Wellington's called their principal coach the "Kingsbridge Belle" and as others were purchased they bore the same name and they were numbered sequentially No1, No2 etc. through to No 9.
In February 1960 Jim Wellington and Mr Desmond Gullett acquired the coach business of J H Clark of East Allington which had by then all but defunct. A limited company Tally Ho! Coaches Ltd was formed and operated from Jimmy Clarke's premises at the Mounts, it was kept entirely separate from the Welligton goods transport and Kingsbridge Belle business. Nine rather dilapidated vehicles were included together with the licensed tours from Loddiswell and East Allington. The yard is still operated to this day as a lorry depot for JB Haulage.
1964 The Salcombe Motor Company was taken over with three vehicles and tours and excursions from that town.
1966 Walls of Dartmouth was purchased with three coaches plus the tours and excursions including the business running coaches for the BRNC.
1971 the business moved from the Mounts and the Salcombe, Kingsbridge and Dartmouth operations were consolidated at new premises in Station Yard, Kingsbridge. The Kingsbridge Belle name was dropped and the Wellington family coach business was transferred to Tally Ho!
1975 Tally Ho took over the eight fleet coach business of J Hoare & Sons Ltd, Ivybridge and this new base in Ivybridge was retained until it eventually migrated to Kingsley Close Lee Mill where we are still based today. This Depot has grown and now has a modern buiding with an engineering section and vehicle washing facilities.
1984 Mr Gullett retired after several years of poor health, a deal was struck on the back of an envelope to sell the business to the Wellington family who took it on as a partnership called Wellington and partners trading as Tally Ho!
1999 Stephens of Modbury was purchased.
2005 the Tally Ho! building in Kingsbridge caught fire (a welding accident) and not long after Simon Wellington was diagnosed suffering from Motor Neurone Disease. The building was reconstructed but poor Simon's health started to deteriorate. Simon was the third generation to run the business however his two sons were not interested in continuing the business so it was put up for sale.
2008 The Wellington family partnership sold the business to Don McIntosh and Richard Pullan and it became Tally Ho! Coaches Ltd once again. Since then the Company has created a modern touring division called Tally Ho! Holidays, developed private contract work and tried to strike a balance between modernisation while retaining it's heritage and roots.
Tally Ho! has been an important part of the South Hams for a long time touching the lives of many people whether taking them to school, out for a trip or simply taking them to work. The Company has had varying reputations ranging from quality travel to notorious breakdowns! Throughout our history we have always been the archetypal "local business" and long may it continue.