Dean's Garage and Coaches
Swanage Local History by the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre
Amongst the many boxes of bequests at Swanage Museum we have currently been cataloguing are some of the Dean family and one folder concerning Dean’s Garage contained an interesting letter.
Capt R.C.W. Dean served in the 4th Battalion Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry in the First World War. He was also a singer and appeared in many local productions. After demobilisation he built up a garage and coach hire business based in the lower High Street Swanage where the flats of the Weighbridge Court now stand.
The firm flourished in both regards but it is perhaps most well remembered for its fleet of maroon and grey motor coaches that took visitors to local places of interest.
At the outbreak of the Second World War such vehicles were hired by the War Department for the movement of troops, and Dean’s Coaches being a small player in the coaching world, had its fleet absorbed into Shamrock and Rambler of Bournemouth. Here’s an extract from ’99 Years of Coaching’ by Andrew Mead Fonthill 2015.
Selling a Cadillac to the 'Yanks'!
With heavy restrictions in place on the civilian use of motor fuel, the garage side of the business must have suffered and it was in 1942 that Capt. Dean received a letter from Mr Ronald Wild of Patchfield, Corfe Castle. This gentleman had at one time lived in the USA and whilst there in 1930 purchased a Cadillac Phaeton (an extremely expensive and thirsty car) and when moving to the UK had it shipped back with him.
We currently know little about Mr Wild, but he was evidently a man of substance, as his letter states that the car had only been chauffeur driven; it may be that he could not get sufficient fuel to run it, but with the American Army stationed locally, he wondered if Captain Dean could approach them with a view to purchasing this impressive vehicle with 77,000 miles on the clock and one careful owner.
The reply was diplomatic from the local U.S. commander and stated that the army jeeps were their main means of transport!
The Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre, located in the town centre is open from March – October.