This family business is long established in the market town of Bourne in the south of Lincolnshire, with six generations of the Delaine-Smith family having been active in the company. Bourne was also an important part of the British racing car scene in days gone by, and part of the Delaine garage premises in Spalding Road incorporates the site of the BRM works (British Racing Motors). Pre-war ERA (English Racing Automobiles) had been based nearby too. A BRM Celebration Day was held in the streets of Bourne in October 2012 to commemorate Graham Hill winning the Grand Prix in a BRM car in 1962.
The Delaine business has origins that lie back in the 19th century. In 1890 William Smith used a horse and cart owned by his father Bennett to take Bourne folk to and from the Tuesday market in Spalding. Bennett had started in business about 1867 as a general contractor. A fire occurred at their depot in 1907 with sad loss of carts and horses. After William died in 1913 his son Thomas Arthur (1896-1958) married a Miss Emma Weston in 1915 who, through her family connections, brought the Delaine name to the business. Starting with taxis in 1910 Thomas acquired his first motor bus in 1919, PW1558, a 14-seat Ford model T bought for £495. Routes were established to Spalding via Twenty, Grantham via Corby Glen and Stamford via Greatford. In 1923 what was to become the main route from Bourne to Peterborough was started. For some years there was competition from Peterborough Electric Traction all along this route; in 1930 by agreement PET withdrew north of Market Deeping although still serving the road south from there to Peterborough on their route from Spalding.
With a fleet size of
five the timetable for March 1928 for 'The Delaine Saloon Buses'
showed a Tuesday journey to Spalding for the market, leaving Bourne at
9.45 am and returning from Spalding at 3.00pm. Stamford was served on
Fridays, leaving Bourne at 9.45 am via Witham, returning at 2.45pm; an
alternative journey left Bourne at 11.15am via Braceboro, returning at
4.00pm. Grantham was served on Saturdays, leaving Bourne at 9.15am and
5.30pm, returning at 3.45pm and 10.30pm. On the route southwards to
Peterborough there were 8 journeys from Bourne Market Place to
Peterborough Broadway on Wednesdays and Sundays, and 10 journeys on
Saturdays; first departure from Bourne 9.00am (10.30am Sundays), last
return journey 10.30pm. Subsequently this route terminated at the
Cattle Market until Bishops
Road bus station opened in 1937. In that same year the single fare from
Bourne to Peterborough was 1/3d and the return fare 2/0d. At the time
also a subsidiary
depot in Brook Street, Peterborough, opened in 1932 and closed in 1939;
this was primarily established to enable operation of tours and
excursions from Peterborough, for which permission had previously been
refused because of the distance of dead running to and from the depot
second disatrous fire occurred
at the depot in November 1928 causing much damage and destroying
several buses. This meant the cessation of the Grantham service. The
business of W H Walpole of
Dyke was acquired in 1932 and that of W H Haines of Deeping St James in
1934. A more direct
route from Bourne to Stamford via Toft and Essendine came into
operation after January 1937 with the takeover of the 'Betterway'
service of Thomas
Bett of Billingborough from Boston
through Billingborough and Bourne to Stamford (the Boston to Bourne
section passing to Lincolnshire Road Car, with whom Bett's business had
been jointly purchased).
In May 1941 the business became Delaine Coaches Limited. The bus
continued in wartime under often difficult conditions with the addition
of workers transport to airfields in the area, including South Witham,
Woolfox and North Luffenham.
years the business
substantially (despite the two depot fires in 1907 and
1928) and has passed down through several generations of the
family. The first double-decker bus came in 1948; others were
acquired through the 1950s. Delaine
was to have experience of a rail replacement bus service in 1951 when
the line closed between Bourne and Essendine. A daily bus was put on,
running via Thurlby and Braceborough. However it incurred such losses
that it was soon cut down to two round trips on Thursdays and Saturdays
only, and those only between Bourne and Braceborough. Closure of the
M&GN rail line through Bourne in 1959 brought further (mostly
short-lived) rail replacement routes, although the last remained until
1999 in truncated form as a Thursday only journey from Greatford to
Bourne. In 1961 over 1,100,000 passengers were carried by Delaine, of
420,000 were on the Peterborough route (at the time two-hourly in
frequency, increased to hourly on Saturday).
Delaine are now very much in the bus business only (coaching activities ceased in 1996) and the routes radiate today from Bourne to Stamford, Spalding and Peterborough, with the latter route the most important and operated nowadays at a half-hourly daytime frequency. The first double deck vehicle was introduced to the Peterborough route in 1948 and such vehicles still operate most of the busy 101 and 102 services today, albeit now one person operated, the last conductress having retired in 1987. Designated a New Town in 1967 the population of Peterborough (and the employment opportunities there) grew enormously from then onwards. The Peterborough route went up to an hourly frequency six days a week in 1976 and the present half-hourly headway to Bourne came in 1996. In October 1985 what is now route 102 was introduced hourly from Deeping St James to Peterborough (called affectionately The Deepings Flyer). The main 101 route was extended northwards on an hourly basis from Bourne to serve housing development in the village of Morton in 1999.
Travel habits change so an earlier route northwards from Bourne to Sleaford became but a truncated Thursday market day and school times type operation running as service 301 as far as Rippingale (but extended to Billingborough again in 2013 as Kimes withdrew from the road). From 1961 to 1980 the Bourne to Sleaford route was unusual in being jointly operated with Lincolnshire Road Car service 34, thought to have been one of the first - if not the first - joint operation between an independent and a state-owned company. This initiative saved Road Car outstationing three vehicles overnight in Bourne. After withdrawal of the joint operation Delaine maintained a two-hourly headway for some years on the section from Bourne to Billingborough. Similarly atrophied is the previous route from Bourne westwards towards Grantham, now just a school run to Corby Glen.
Another busy route (201) links Peterborough with Stamford via Barnack and was introduced in 1988 when Barton Transport closed their local depot and withdrew from the Stamford area (Barton had in turn taken over Cream Buses of Stamford in 1961). At that time Kimes of Folkingham introduced an alternative replacement service between Stamford and Peterborough on another route via Wittering and Wansford. Originally Delaine's 201 ran alternately via Barnack and Ufford or via Barnack and Helpston but all journeys now use the latter routing via Helpston. Delaine's other routes from Stamford were the 202 which provided the hourly link to the home town of Bourne by way of Essendine and Toft, whilst the 203 ran from Stamford to The Deepings, extended at school times to Bourne. Falling passenger numbers saw the withdrawal of the Bourne town service at the end of March 2008 after thirty-three years operation.
The main Delaine 101 route from Peterborough Queensgate bus station to Bourne continued half hourly and was enhanced to three times an hour on the southern section between The Deepings and Peterborough when Stagecoach withdrew their long standing hourly service over that part of the route in April 2011. Current midday commitment for the principal services would appear to be about twelve buses. A substantial number of extra and duplicate journeys are needed on the regular routes to cater for schools and college traffic, including no less than fourteen buses serving the afternoon outmuster at Bourne Grammar School. Almost uniquely in the second decade of the 21st century the operation is fully commercial without support subsidies - a proud achievement reflecting the dedication and attention to detail of this successful family business.
2006 the fleet size was
twenty four, of which no less than eighteen were double-deckers. The
sixth generation of the family came into the business when Jennifer
(great-great-granddaughter of Thomas) joined the firm. The
in summer 2012 numbered twenty one vehicles - of which sixteen were
double-deckers, some of which carried names. In 2015 the fleet size was
twenty seven, many carrying DBL registrations. All are of Volvo
manufacture and nineteen are double-deckers - plus another three
Leyland double-deckers in the heritage fleet (the museum to house them opened in spring 2019).
Changes from mid-January 2016 saw routes 201 and 202 combined to give a through bus every hour on the Bourne - Stamford - Peterborough route, also improving connections within and across the town of Stamford. October 2018 saw the addition of a new route 205 between Stamford and Peterborough via Wittering and Wansford, replacing Centrebus route 9 (who had acquired the Kimes business in 2011). This meant that Delaine was now operating both of the traditional routes between Stamford and Peterborough that in days gone by had been the preserve of their friendly rivals at Cream Bus. January 2019 saw service 203 from Stamford to the Deepings extended onwards to Spalding, creating a new connection across the county. Current 2019 fleet size is thirty, all Volvo chassis, comprising twenty three double-deckers and seven single-deckers (the latter primarily used on the Stamford routes). Sunday is the quietest day with just two vehicles out working the 101 to Peterborough hourly.
Several examples of older timetables can be found here
With many thanks to John Brogden for the loan of timetables,
incorporating information from articles and publications by
A L Baker, Peter Moore, David Kaye and Anthony Delaine-Smith
found in the libraries of Lincolnshire.