2015 - a hundred and twenty five years of service to south Lincolnshire

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 Traveline East Midlands

or the website of Delaine Buses

This well known operator is a long established family business based in the market town of Bourne in the south of the county of Lincolnshire.  Six generations of the Delaine-Smith family have been active in the company. Bourne was also 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 site of the BRM works (British Racing Motors). Pre-war ERA (English Racing Automobiles) had been based there. 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 has origins that lie in the 19th century, back to 1890 when the horse and cart owned by William Smith was used to take Bourne folk to and from the Tuesday market in Spalding. A fire occurred at the depot in 1907 with loss of carts and horses. William died in 1913 and his son Thomas Arthur (1896-1958) married a Miss Weston in 1915 who, through family connections, brought the Delaine name to the business. Starting with taxis in 1910 Thomas acquired the 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 the main route from Bourne to Peterborough commenced. For some years there was competition from Peterborough Electric Traction all along this route; in 1930 they 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 fire occurred at the depot in November 1928 causing much damage and destroying several buses. This meant 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. 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 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.

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; 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, of whom  420,000 were on the Peterborough route (at the 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 a back number of Commercial Motor magazine, with six coaches, five deckers and three dual purpose saloons.

Delaine fleet 1963

Note  -  KTL780 and RCT3 are still in the Delaine heritage fleet in 2016, together with ACT540L, a 1973 Leyland Atlantean 82-seater.

The bus station in Bourne opened in 1974 and a town service started in December 1975. An hourly frequency six days a week to Peterborough started 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. In 1993 the first vintage bus running day was held in Bourne. Mr Hugh Delaine-Smith (1920-1995) joined the business after leaving school in 1938, the son of Thomas Arthur and father of current Managing Director Anthony. He was awarded the MBE for services to public transport in the New Year Honours List for 1995; sadly he died 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.

Principally a bus business (coaching activities ceased in 1996) the routes still radiate from Bourne to Stamford, Spalding and Peterborough, with the latter route the most important and operated nowadays at a half-hourly daytime frequency.  The first double deck vehicle was introduced to the 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.  The Peterborough route grew to hourly frequency six days a week in 1976 and the present half-hourly headway came in 1996 and the route was extended northwards on an hourly basis from Bourne to serve Morton in 1999.

An earlier route northwards from Bourne to Sleaford became but a truncated Thursday market day type operation running as service 301 as far as Rippingale (but extended to Billingborough again in 2013 as Kimes withdrew from the road). From 1961 to 1980 the 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 previous route from Bourne westwards towards Grantham, now just a school run to Corby Glen. 

Another route (201) links Peterborough with Stamford 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. Delaine's other routes from Stamford are the 202 which provides the hourly link to the home town of Bourne by way of Essendine and Toft, whilst the 203 runs from Stamford to The Deepings, extended at school times to Bourne. Falling passenger numbers saw the withdrawal of the Bourne town service at the end of March 2008 after thirty-three years operation.

The busy Delaine route from Peterborough Queensgate bus station to Bourne continues to this day and was enhanced to three times an hour on the southern section between The Deepings and Peterborough when Stagecoach withdrew their long standing hourly service over that part of the route in April 2011.  Minimum all day commitment for the principal services would appear to be about ten buses. A substantial number of extra and duplicate journeys are needed on the various 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 100% commercial without council support subsidies - a proud achievement reflecting the dedication and attention to detail of this successful family business.

In 2006 the fleet size was recorded as twenty four, of which no less than eighteen were double-deckers. The sixth generation of the family came into the business when Jennifer (great-great-granddaughter of Thomas) joined the firm. The Delaine fleet in summer 2012 numbered twenty one vehicles - of which sixteen were double-deckers, some of which carried names. In 2015 the fleet size is 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 to house them will open 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, also improving connections within and across the town of Stamford. October 2018 sees the addition of new route 205 between Stamford and Peterborough, replacing Centrebus route 9.

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 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 brings 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'.

The timetable illustration below is for the Bourne to Peterborough route and is believed to date from the 1960s.
At the time the business traded as Delaine Coaches Limited with a mixed fleet of coaches and buses
since 1995 is now called Delaine Buses with an all bus fleet.

old timetable

Delaine routes in operation in 1977
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

bell punch tickets

Setright tickets were introduced in 1961 to replace Bell Punch tickets above
A departure by 'The Delaine' from the old bus station in Bishops Road, Peterborough (replaced by Queensgate bus station in 1982)
setright ticket
the old bus station at Peterborough

Volvo P1OTL in Stamford 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

January 1962 timetable for the jointly operated Bourne to Sleaford service
Timetable for joint service to Sleaford

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

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

A running day and open day at the museum took place on 29th September 2018.

The museum of the Delaine Heritage Trust will open in Spring 2019.

With many thanks to John Brogden for the loan of timetables,

and incorporating information from articles and publications by

A L Baker, P Moore, D Kaye and A Delaine-Smith
found in the libraries of Lincolnshire.