The Delaine of Bourne

    2023 - a hundred years on the route linking Bourne to Peterborough

    2019 - a hundred years since the first Delaine motor bus

Delaine Atlantean
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

A forward looking company - still family owned - Delaine have refined today's transport offering across their routes by delivering journey times that compete with the private car, using attractively liveried smart modern buses with convenient and reliable timings, helpful drivers and modern contactless ticketing. The core business is still based around some of the original services, which have been developed and tailored, using a careful blend of tradition and current market demands.The buses have clear and comprehensive indicator displays and information is available both online and though easily read timetable leaflets available on the vehicles. The history of the firm is proudly commemorated in the museum of the Delaine Heritage Trust which opened in 2019.

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 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 there was 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 at Bourne.

A second disatrous depot fire occurred in November 1928 causing much damage and destroying several buses. This led tomeant 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 a company: 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.

early ticket with geographical stages

After the war

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).

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  Commercial Motor magazine, with six coaches, five deckers and three dual purpose saloons. KTL780 (45) and RCT3 (50) are still part of the Delaine heritage fleet. Only two Double Deck bodies were ever built by Yeates of Loughborough, both especially for Delaine (fleet numbers 48 and 50). The second of the pair has been continually licensed as a PCV since new and makes it the longest serving Yeates bodied PCV vehicle. An all time fleet list of Delaine buses and coaches over the years can be found here.

Delaine fleet 1963

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

The main Delaine 101 route from Peterborough Queensgate bus station to Bourne continues half hourly and was enhanced to three times an hour on the southern section between The Deepings and Peterborough (route 102) when Stagecoach East withdrew their long standing hourly service 22 over that part of the route in April 2011 following cuts in local authority funding.  Midday commitment 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.  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.

The other main Delaine 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.

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.

On the occasion of the Delaine one hundredth anniversary in 1990 a book was published in celebration.  'The Delaine, history part two, 1983-1990', by the current Managing Director Anthony Delaine-Smith.  This followed the earlier volume 'The Delaine, history 1890-1982', written by A L Baker.  Both include many photos and a full chronology of the company, its bus services and development.  A third book - 'Delaine, 120 years of service" - by Peter Moore brings the story up to 2010. Then a fourth book brought the story up to date with the '2015 Fleet Handbook' from Steven Knight Media, whilst autumn 2015 saw the publication of a fifth book, again by Peter Moore: 'The Delaine - Reflecting on 125 years of service'. More recently 'Buses Year Book 2019' contains a descriptive article too. Over the years much has been written about the Delaine story.
Some sample Bell Punch tickets of various values from Delaine Coaches Ltd
 (as the firm was called at the time)

Setright tickets were introduced in 1961 to replace
                    Bell Punch tickets at left

bell punch tickets

setright ticket
For a while there was an ex-London Routemaster ALM59B as an 'honorary fleet member' in Delaine colours, from 1992 to 2002. Numbered as 113 it was used for a variety of promotional purposes including attendance at rallies as well as occasional deployment on the usual bus routes.

A departure from the old bus station in Bishops Road, Peterborough, which had been to the south of the town centre. This was replaced by the new Queensgate bus station in 1982 when the modern shopping centre was opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Peterborough was designated a New Town in 1967 and its population more than doubled between 1971 and 1991, from 69 thousand to 155 thousand. It became significantly more important economically as a 'travel to' destination, with the benefit of increased bus services. Apart from improved facilities at the new bus station it enabled the end to end running itme of the Bourne to Peterborough route to be shortened, leading to better operating efficiencies and an increase in one-man operation.

fleet number 112 Routemaster

the old bus station at Peterborough

Volvo P1OTL turns into Stamford bus station in November 2007,
fleet number 99 
(photo with thanks from the johnmightycat1 collection)

Volvo AD56DBL in Market Deeping in May 2009, fleet number 141
(photo with thanks from the johnmightycat1 collection)
delaine P1OTL in Stamford 2007

delaine AD56DBL in Market Deeping 2009

Delaine routes in operation in 1977                                                                                      Several examples of older timetables can be found here

Bourne - Thurlby - Market Deeping - Peterborough

(Bourne - Thurlby) - Market Deeping - Stamford Weekdays
started from Bourne on Friday and Saturday only

Bourne - Toft - Essendine - Stamford

Bourne - Twenty - Spalding
also on Thursday from Bourne to Twenty

Bourne - Dyke / Morton - Haconby
Tuesday and Thursday

Bourne - Corby Glen

Bourne - Thurlby / Wilsthorpe - Greatford
Thursday and Saturday

Bourne - Rippingale - Billingborough - Sleaford
joint service with Lincolnshire Road Car (route 34)

Bourne Town Service
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

Two of Peter Moore's books about Delaine

sample timetables 2019 The Delaine

Delaine routes as in May 2019

Bourne - Thurlby - Market Deeping - Peterborough
Daily including Sunday

Deeping St James - Market Deeping -  Peterborough (Saturday service withdrawn October 2020)
Monday to Saturday

Bourne - Essendine - Arran Road loop - Stamford - Helpston - Peterborough
Monday to Saturday

Bourne - Essendine - Stamford - Helpston - Peterborough 202
Monday to Saturday

Spalding - Market Deeping - Stamford (renumbered 301 and 302 from October 2020) 203
Monday to Friday

Bourne - Thurlby - Stamford - Uffington (renumbered 403 November 2020)

Stamford - Wittering - Peterborough (withdrawn Christmas 2019)
Monday to Friday

Aslackby- Billingborough - Rippingale - Bourne (renumbered 401 November 2020)
Schooldays and Thursday

Bourne - Twenty - Spalding (renumbered 402 November 2020 and now schooldays only)
Schooldays and Tuesday

Bourne - Witham - Little Bytham - Corby Glen - Bourne (circular route, renumbered 404)

The Delaine website with timetables, history, fleet list and gallery.

Delaine Heritage Trust celebrated 100 years since the first Delaine motor bus 1919 - 2019
The seven members of the Heritage Fleet form the centrepiece of the Delaine Museum at Bourne.
The museum is open on the  second Saturday of each month March until October
Twilight Mini Running Day 19th October 2024

Heritage Bus Running Day April  2025

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,

and incorporating information from articles and publications by

A L Baker, Peter Moore, David Kaye and Anthony Delaine-Smith.