from Stamford to Peterborough in days gone by

Please note this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information

The Cream Bus Service was founded by W H (Harry) Patch in Stamford in 1924 and developed a network of bus services from there reaching Oundle and Peterborough, as well as local routes in and around the town of Stamford from their garage in Radcliffe Road. Their first bus was a 14-seater Chevrolet and a Mr Holmes was also thought to have been involved in the business in the very early days. One of the Peterborough routes went by way of Barnack and Ufford (this had been the first route started), and the other down the A1 via Wittering and Wansford was running by 1930. There were picking up and setting down restrictions between Wansford and Peterborough to protect Eastern Counties services. Extra journeys linked RAF Wittering with Stamford especially in the late evenings. One of the oldest flying stations in the Royal Air Force, RAF Wittering has played a prominent part both in military operations and in the development of air power throughout a rich and diverse history dating back to 1916.
The main departure point was in Station Road, opposite the George Hotel in Stamford. Other work included private hire and coach excursions as well as schools and works contracts, the latter including from Stamford to the Allis Chalmers plant in Essendine. School runs included Wittering to Peterborough with two buses, one picking up girls for the County Grammar School and the other picking up boys for the Kings School. Other runs were to St Martins School and St Georges School, both in Stamford. Additional services ran on Fridays, market day in Stamford.

Harry Patch (a lifelong Arsenal supporter) had identical twin daughters, one of whom married Reid McKechnie.  Reid joined the business in 1942 and in later years became a partner and ran the bus company. The family also owned the Willow Cafe, Olde Barn restaurant and Barton's coffee bar: all in St Marys Street, Stamford. Those businesses were often advertised on the sides of the company's buses, including two ex-London Transport AEC RT 56-seater Craven bodied diesel-engined double-deckers bought during the 1956 Suez fuel crisis (one of which was JXC167, London Transport RT1404, Cream Bus fleet number 16; the other KGK731, London Transport RT1472, Cream Bus fleet number 9). Following Harry's retirement in 1958 the the final partnership was D R (Reid) and B McKechnie and N Cole (all of whom were family members).

The twenty two vehicle company was sold to Barton Transport of Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, in 1961 as part of Barton's expansion that made them Britain's largest independent bus operator at that time prior to the privatisation of the National Bus Company and many municipal fleets in the mid to late 1980s. At one point some journeys on the Peterborough to Stamford service ran through to and from Nottingham via Melton Mowbray (as they did again until a year or two ago as Centrebus service 19 the 'Five Counties' route). Barton withdrew from the Stamford area in 1988 and the Stamford - Barnack - Peterborough route passed to Delaine Buses, in whose network it became route 201.

Cream bell punch ticket

Cream Bus Service routes in operation in 1958
1958 Cream Bus Service timetable

Stamford - Wittering - Wansford - Yarwell - Nassington - Oundle

Stamford - Wittering (village and RAF station)

Stamford - Barnack - Ufford - Marholm - Peterborough

Stamford - Wittering - Wansford - Castor - Peterborough

Stamford - Barnack - Ufford - Southorpe

Stamford - Uffington - Greatford - Braceborough

Stamford - Little Casterton

Stamford - Ketton - Morton - Leicester (express service)

Stamford town services (Kesteven Road circular / Worcester Crescent / Lambeth Walk)

    Until 1951 a service ran on Tuesdays from Stamford to Melton Mowbray.
    The Oundle route above was cut back to Nassington (except on Thursdays) in 1959.

Cream Bus Sevice Bedford at Peterborough old bus station
Willebrew ticket

KAB 283, Cream Bus Services fleet number 12, at the old Peterborough Bus Station waiting departure on the Stamford service. A 1951 Bedford SB1241 / Duple 56977 C33F, new to Samuel Johnson (Supreme), Stourbridge in July 1951.
Passed to Cream Bus in October 1958, then became Barton Transort fleet number 889 in 1961.
Two stop board signs are visible on the right of the picture for the two different routes to Stamford, via Wittering or via Barnack.

(photo with thanks from the LVVS collection by the late John Boylett)

Further photographs of Cream Bus vehicles can be seen here

The complete September 1958 timetable booklet can be viewed here

back of ticket

summary timetable Stamford to Peterborough

with many thanks to Adam Gordon for the timetable,

and incorporating much information from articles and publications

  found on the internet and in the libraries of Lincolnshire