FOWLERS OF HOLBEACH DROVE
Along the roads from Wisbech to Spalding
|Please note this is a
site of historical record and does not contain current service
For current information go to the website of Fowlers Travel
Based in Holbeach Drove, William Harold (Bill) Fowler bought his first PSV vehicle, TV6374 - a fifteen year old 24 seater Leyland Cub, from Nightingale of Pode Hole in the autumn of 1947. In the spring of 1949 a new Austin 31 seater coach joined the fleet (EG9476); this was joined the following year by a 29-seater Bedford OB Duple Vista (ENT102). The first Leyland was disposed of in autumn 1950 and the fleet size remained static at two until 1959 when with the business prospering the fleet started to grow, including the arrival of the first double-decker in 1962.
with the traditional mix of school contract and private hire work, plus
lanes service from Holbeach Drove into Spalding, Fowlers did not really
the business of running buses until taking over the local Holbeach
of C J Towler of Emneth (based fifteen miles away on the other
Wisbech). This acquisition in March 1963 included the garage,
coaches, one double decker and several bus routes. The principal
a week service linked Wisbech to Spalding via Parson Drove, Holbeach
Gedney Hill, as illustrated in the accompanying 1965
timetable below. Still a family run business to this day Fowlers have a current fleet
size of twenty four.
Bill passed away in
September 1975 with the business passing to sons John and Barrie with a
limited company formed in 1977. By the early 1980s the fleet had
grown to sixteen vehicles. In 1987 the services of Tim Rose (Brown
Linnet) of Holbeach St John were acquired.
This was the time of deregulation of bus services as provided for by the Transport Act 1985 and from April 1987 a new weekday service between Holbeach and Spalding was started in competition with Lincolnshire Road Car route 505. The initiative was successful and the route was extended to Kings Lynn from December 1987.
In August 1989
Road Car closed
their Holbeach depot and all workings on the 505 passed to Fowlers,
together with the garage which was used as an out-station base.
In February 2002 the route was rebranded as InterConnect 505, as part of the Lincolnshire County Council initiative of enhancing trunk services whilst providing an 'inter-connection' of feeder buses (Call Connect Plus) with guaranteed connections at two transfer points, Holbeach and Long Sutton. Progressive escalation of competitive operations along the main road between Spalding and Kings Lynn, notably by Norfolk Green (who run the route today, albeit as part of the Stagecoach group since the end of 2013), led to Fowlers withdrawal from participation in the InterConnect service in 2004 (see also below).
Andrew (Bill's grandson)
is now at the helm and Fowlers
still constitute a significant presence on the fenland
roads. A number of bus routes continued into more recent years,
Wisbech to Spalding, although operated in two halves rather than
as a through service, split at Holbeach Drove. In 2013 this route
(numbered 52) continued with weekday operation between Sutton St
Edmunds, Holbeach Drove and Spalding; with Thursday extension from
Holbeach Drove to Wisbech for the market. By March 2015 this had passed
to Stagecoach Norfolk (formerly Norfolk Green) as route 49. More
recently 2019 finds the firm operating four school services registered
as local bus routes together with a morning shoppers route 43 from
Sutton St James via Holbeach Drove to Spalding once a day (except
Thursday when the bus goes to Wisbech instead). The principal emphasis
of the business today is on coaching activities.
|On the occasion of Fowlers fiftieth anniversary in 1997 a book was published in celebration. 'Fowlers Travel - serving the fens for half a century' was written by Geoff Mills and published by MW Transport Publications of 12 Saxon Close, Colchester, Essex. (ISBN 0952777010). This includes many photos and also a full chronology of the bus services (pages 43-45).|
|Fowlers Daimler VNB225L seen in Holbeach
New to Greater Manchester Transport in 1973
(photo with thanks from the johnmightycat1 collection)
with many thanks to John Brogden for the loan of timetables,
and incorporating information from articles and publications
by David Kaye and Geoff Mills found in the libraries of Lincolnshire