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BLANDS OF COTTESMORE

Operating from England's smallest county - Rutland



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



Based in premises in Main Street in the Rutland village of Cottesmore, the well known coach operator Blands ran several local bus services as well, stretching from their home county into the nearby market towns of Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. For many years the village was associated with nearby ironstone mining. Cottesmore village is not far from the RAF station of the same name which opened in March 1938. The 1939 timetable below shows a Tuesday service from Castle Bytham as well as extra services to and from the RAF station, including Saturday midnight departures back from both Melton and Oakham. RAF Cottesmore was taken over by the army in April 2012 as Kendrew Barracks.  

Originally using the name 'Pride of Rutland' the business was founded in 1929 by Reginald Horace Bland at the age of 24. From early days Cottesmore was linked to Melton Mowbray on Tuesdays and Sundays, and this was extended back on Saturdays to start from Oakham via Cottesmore to Melton.  Fridays saw a different direction taken with a market bus from Market Overton and Cottesmore via Greetham to Stamford.  This pattern of services was still similar in the 1979 timetable below but with the Stamford service increased to three days a week (with some journeys now running via Castle Bytham) and the Melton service to six days a week. Outside the Sun Inn in Cottesmore, near to where Blands were based, there is a bench dedicated to the Bland family.


the timetable from the start of services in 1929

1930s timetable Pride of Rutland
ticket 3/8d pre-decimal
the 1939 timetable leaflet with a focus on services to RAF Cottesmore


1939 timetable
ticket 7/6d pre-decimal
the 1979 timetable booklet


stamford service 1979
timetable cover 1979
melton service 1979
advertisement 1979



Reginald's son Tony (A R Bland) joined the firm in 1953 and ran it until 1997.  The founder R H Bland died in 1985. In the same year the business of Clapham's Coaches of Stamford was acquired. Perhaps that was the genesis of Blands (Stamford) Ltd which company was in operation by the time of bus deregulation in summer 1986. At this time the 'traditional' routes from Cottesmore to Stamford and Oakham were registered to 'R H Bland of Cottesmore deceased' whilst Blands (Stamford) Ltd registered route 9 from Stamford to Peterborough via Wittering and Wansford (on a limited basis of two return journeys a day); market services to Nassington and Duddington; weekly shoppers services to Kettering and Leicester; and workers services from places such as Swinstead, Sleaford, Pinchbeck, Oakham, Uppingham and Market Overton to the now closed Mirrlees Blackstones engineering works in Stamford.

After the 1986 deregulation of bus services new routes such as Grantham to Melton Mowbray followed the withdrawal of Lincolnshire Road Car route 618 (Grantham - Melton - Leicester) As well as the services to Stamford, Oakham, Grantham and Uppingham shown in the 1987 timetable illustrations below there were also the 'traditional routes' between Melton Mowbray, Cottesmore, and Oakham which were included in a separate leaflet. Ian Bland (one of Tony's sons) was also involved in the operations in the 1990s along with his brother Stephen. At this time a Saturday service linked RAF Cottesmore to Peterborough via Stamford. Unexpectedly operations ceased abruptly from the long established Cottesmore base on 7th August 1997 with most of the bus routes passing to Lincolnshire Road Car. The Stamford based company continued to operate.

In 1988 Blands (Stamford) Ltd had routes from Stamford to Peterborough via Wansford (by now increased to six returm journeys a day), Stamford to Nassington via Duddington as well as a Stamford town service. This was the year that Barton Transport had withdrawn from the Stamford area (in April, with closure of their Radcliffe Road depot and thirty redundancies), which meant that their services to Peterborough (two different routes) and to Nassington (all ex-Cream) were discontinued. At this time also Delaine of Bourne started to run the other route from Stamford to Peterborough via Barnack (still continuing today as their service 201). Barton in turn had earlier acquired the routes to Peterborough and Nassington (cut back from Oundle in 1959) from the Cream Bus Service of Stamford in 1961.  It is possible that the route to Peterborough was a competitive operation as Kimes of Folkingham were also running over this road in 1989. In January 1989 Stephen Bland of Blands Stamford advocated a daily commuter run from Stamford and Peterborough to London which would offer better fares than using the train.

By 1999 the operation of the Peterborough route via Wansford was solely by Kimes. In that year Mark Bland Travel was operating what had been the Blands (Stamford) route to Nassington. In 2001 the Stamford town service had been taken over from Stagecoach Viscount. The relationship between the Stamford and Cottesmore businesses of Blands is not clear although the Stamford business seems to have been run originally by Tony and Stephen Bland. They sold their operation to Midland Fox. Subsequently when Midland Fox withdrew from the Stamford area the Mark Bland Travel business took over their Ryhall premises (which had been the Arriva Midland Fox depot).

So, spanning three generations, Mark Bland Travel of Ryhall near Stamford has been established in the area for some years now.  Mark (born 1967) is one of Tony's sons, brother to Ian and Stephen, and thus the grandson of the Cottesmore founder Reginald Bland.  Local bus services in and around Stamford are in operation, as well as schools, private hire and tour work. The market day service from Stamford to Oundle via Duddington ran until 2015. The main current bus routes operated (2019) are schools orientated services from Colsterworth, Corby Glen, Whissendine and to Grantham together with the Stamford Hopper town service 182. Since autumn 2016 Adam Barrett has joined the firm as joint owner and a move of base from Ryhall to nearby Essendine was made during 2019.

1974 timetable for services to Stamford


1974 timetable for Stamford services
20p post-decimal ticket



the timetable from 1987, after the 1986 deregulation of bus services





ticket






ticket







1988 timetable for services to and from RAF Cottesmore
(the Sunday service included a double run from Lincoln to Grantham and back)


Market day service to Bourne

(ceased in December 1976)
1988 timetable of services from RAF Cottesmore
timetable for Bourne service on Thursdays

Blands of Cottesmore BTK397C, a Bedford VAL14 with 'classic' Duple Vega Major coachwork seen at Stamford on 24 July 1976,
waiting to return to Castle Bytham and Cottesmore.    
(Photo by courtesy of Steve Thoroughgood)
Blands Val at Stamford 1976

Timetable from 1989 for the Blands (Stamford) route to Peterborough via Wittering and Wansford
(85p single fare, 1.10 return, 5.00 weekly ticket)
Blands (Stamford) timetable to Peterborough



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