This well known operator is a long established family business based in the market town of Bourne in the south of the county of Lincolnshire. Six generations of the Delaine-Smith family have 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 there. 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.
Delaine business has
origins that lie in
the 19th century, back to
when the horse and cart
William Smith was used to take Bourne folk to and from the Tuesday
Spalding. A fire occurred at the depot in 1907 with loss of carts and
horses. William died in 1913 and his son Thomas Arthur (1896-1958)
married a Miss Weston in 1915 who, through family connections, brought
the Delaine name to the business. Starting with taxis in 1910
bus in 1919, PW1558, a 14-seat Ford model T bought for £495. Routes
established to Spalding via Twenty, Grantham via Corby Glen and
Stamford via Greatford. In 1923 the main route from Bourne to
Peterborough commenced. For some years there was competition from
Peterborough Electric Traction all along this route; in 1930 they
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.
Over the years the business developed substantially (despite the two depot fires in 1907 and 1928) and has passed down through several generations of the Delaine-Smith 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, of whom 420,000 were on the Peterborough route (at the time two-hourly in frequency, increased to hourly on Saturday). A cameo of the then fourteen vehicle Delaine fleet as it was in 1963 comes through information found in an article by David Kaye in a back number of Commercial Motor magazine, with six coaches, five deckers and three dual purpose saloons.
The bus station in Bourne opened
in 1974 and a town service started in December 1975. An hourly
frequency six days a week to Peterborough
started in 1976. For
a number of years workers
contract buses to factories in Stamford and Essendine formed an
important part of the business but they declined as factories closed
and the last such operation ended in December 1988. Route numbers were
introduced in 1992. In 1993 the first vintage bus running day was held
Mr Hugh Delaine-Smith (1920-1995) joined the business after leaving
school in 1938, the son of Thomas Arthur and father of current
Managing Director Anthony. He was awarded the MBE for services to
public transport in the New Year Honours List for 1995; sadly he died
months later in March. The company name Delaine Buses Limited was
adopted in 1995 and the company's first low floor bus was acquired in
2000, a Volvo B7TL double-decker registration X7OCT.
a bus business (coaching activities ceased in
the routes still radiate
Bourne to Stamford, Spalding and Peterborough, with the latter route
important and operated nowadays at a half-hourly daytime
The first double
vehicle was introduced to the route in 1948 and such vehicles still
operate most of the busy 101
today, albeit now one person operated, the last conductress having
1987. The Peterborough route grew to hourly frequency six days a week in 1976 and the present half-hourly
headway came in 1996 and the route was extended northwards on
an hourly basis from Bourne to serve Morton in 1999.
An earlier route
Bourne to Sleaford became
truncated Thursday market day type operation running as service 301 as far as
(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,
just a school run to Corby Glen.
links Peterborough with Stamford and was introduced in 1988 when
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
replacement service between Stamford and Peterborough on another route
Delaine's other routes from Stamford are the 202 which provides the
hourly link to the home town of Bourne by way of Essendine and Toft,
whilst the 203 runs 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.
busy Delaine route from Peterborough Queensgate bus station to Bourne
continues to this
day and was enhanced to three times an hour on the southern section
Deepings and Peterborough when Stagecoach withdrew their long standing
hourly service over that part of the route in April 2011. Minimum
for the principal services would appear to be about ten buses. A
substantial number of extra
and duplicate journeys are needed on the various 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 100%
commercial without council support subsidies - a proud achievement
reflecting the dedication and attention to detail of this successful
In 2006 the fleet size was recorded as 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 Delaine fleet in summer 2012 numbered twenty one vehicles - of which sixteen were double-deckers, some of which carried names. In 2015 the fleet size is 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 will open 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 sees the addition of new route 205 between Stamford and Peterborough, replacing Centrebus route 9.
The timetable illustration below is for the Bourne to Peterborough route and is believed to date from the 1960s.
At the time the business traded as Delaine Coaches Limited with a mixed fleet of coaches and buses
but since 1995 is now called Delaine Buses with an all bus fleet.
Please note this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information
The Delaine website is here - with timetables, history, fleet list and gallery.
A running day and open day at the museum took place on 29th September 2018.
The museum of the Delaine Heritage Trust will open in Spring 2019.
With many thanks to John Brogden for the loan of timetables,
incorporating information from articles and publications by
A L Baker, P Moore, D Kaye and A Delaine-Smith
found in the libraries of Lincolnshire.