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.
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, 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 Bourne. In 1961 over 1,100,000 passengers were carried by Delaine, of whom 420,000 were on the Peterborough route (at that time two-hourly in frequency, increased to hourly on Saturday).
The bus station in Bourne opened in 1974 and a town service was started in December 1975. An hourly frequency six days a week was introduced on the Peterborough route 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.
Hugh Delaine-Smith was awarded the MBE for his services to public transport in the New Year Honours List for 1995; sadly he died just two 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.
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. The fleet size in 2019 was 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 twelve buses but that is 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
Please note this is a site of historical record and does not contain current service information
For current travel information and timetables go to the website of Delaine Buses
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.