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 once 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 former site of the ERA works (English Racing Automobiles). Post-war BRM (British Racing Motors) had been based nearby too, whilst pioneer racing driver Raymond Mays lived in Eastgate House adjacent to the Delaine depot. 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 of today 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 Spalding Road 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
A second disatrous depot fire occurred in November 1928 causing much damage and destroying several buses. This led to 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. The depot site in Bourne was expanded eastwards 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 acompany: Delaine Coaches Limited. The bus services 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, the second in
1951; 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
Delaine coaching activity ceased in 1996 and bus operation became the sole focus of the business with routes radiating from Bourne to Stamford, Spalding and Peterborough, with the latter route the most important and operating seven days a week. The first double deck vehicle had been 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 warranted increase to hourly weekday frequency in 1976. Additional traffic to Peterborough accrued when the new Queensgate shopping centre and adjacent bus station opened in 1982. In October 1985 what is now route 102 was introduced hourly from Deeping St James to Peterborough (called affectionately The Deepings Flyer) and in 1996 the main 101 route went up to a half hourly frequency. The 101 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 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 of Folkingham withdrew from the road). From 1961 to 1980 this 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 pre-war route from Bourne westwards towards Grantham, now just a school run to the Corby Glen area.
Into the 21st century
main Delaine 101 route from Peterborough Queensgate bus station to
continues half hourly and was enhanced to three times an hour on the
Deepings and Peterborough (route 102) when Stagecoach East withdrew their
hourly service 22 over that part of the route in April 2011 following cuts in local authority funding. Midday
for the principal services then was 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.
uniquely in the second decade of the 21st century the operation is
commercial without support subsidies - a proud achievement
reflecting the dedication and attention to detail of this successful
The other main Delaine route
links Peterborough with Stamford via Barnack and was introduced in 1988
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
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
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.
In 2006 the fleet size was recorded as twenty four, of which no less than eighteen were double-deckers. The four sons of Hugh Delaine-Smith are the current directors of the business - Anthony, Kevin, Mark and Ian - whilst the sixth generation of the family came into the business when Jennifer and Victoria (great-great-granddaughters of Thomas) joined the firm. Ater thirty three years of operation falling passenger numbers saw the withdrawal of the Bourne town service at the end of March 2008. The Delaine fleet in the summer of 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 housing 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, whilst 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). Weekday outturn in the middle of the day is currently eleven buses but that is far more than doubled at school times. Saturday operations require nine buses and Sunday is the quietest day with just two vehicles and drivers out working the 101 to Peterborough hourly. State of the art ticketing came in September 2018 with the introduction of Ticketer machines across the fleet. 2019 sees the 100th anniversary of the first Delaine motor bus - and still in the blue and cream livery introduced back in 1919.
Several examples of older historic 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.