Hatts Travel closure: Family-firm's roots date from 1920s

Hatts Travel closure: Family-firm's roots date from 1920s

Carly and Jill Hillier in happier times at the company's headquarters in Foxham, near Chippenham

Hatts staff including, second from left, Michael Hillier - founder William Hatt’s grandson

A Hatts bus seen on Wiltshire roads in the 1950s and '60s

Bus used by Hatts in the 1950s and '60s

First published in News
Last updated
by , Senior reporter

When Hatts Travel, which went into receivership today, was founded 85 years ago, the passengers were sharing buses with livestock. 

The firm began in 1928 with a lefthand drive seven-seater Buick taking children to Calne from Christian Malford, Foxham and Bremhill.

Founder William Hatt had already been driving lorries for ten years as a butcher at Ham Villa in Foxham, transporting livestock to and from markets in Devizes, Trowbridge, Calne and Chippenham. Then the going rate for transport to Calne was three shillings.

Jill Hillier, a partner at Hatts Travel, said last year: “The difference from lorries to buses was not much in the early 1900s, with cattle transported in the early morning and schoolchildren later the same morning after a clean-out.

“The earliest bus had wooden wheels which needed damping with water on hot days.”

During the Second World War, Hatt coaches were used to move ground crews to RAF Lyneham.

The Hatt and the Hillier families were joined in 1932 when Mr Hatt’s daughter Nora married Nelson Hillier.

For 40 years they transported schoolchildren and workers to Buxted Poultry, formerly Faccenda, in Sutton Benger.

With William Hatt’s grandson Michael Hillier and his wife Evelyn at the helm in the 1970s, their modest private hire programme was expanded to include holidays and, by 1986, Hatts had grown into an all-round private hire coach company.

The firm provided coach and flight holidays, as well as taking pupils to Sheldon and Hardenhuish schools in Chippenham, John Bentley School in Calne, Malmesbury and Corsham schools and Lackham College, among others.

It was headed by Mr Hatt’s great grandson Adrian Hillier and his wife Jill, after Michael retired at the age of 72 in 2004.

Adrian and Jill’s daughter Carly dealt with sales, marketing, HR and IT.

Last year, Mrs Hillier, who lives in Chippenham, said: “We’re still operating out of Foxham and as long as the company thrives, we feel no need to move away.

“The company has managed to stay afloat throughout the decades with a lot of hard work from all our staff and, of course, keeping our loyal customers who come back to us year after year."

Have you lost out on a holiday or did you work for Hatts or one of its sister companies? Email Julie Armstrong at jarmstrong@newswilts.co.uk

 

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