Thornes to hand over route after 71 years

Thornes Independent of Hemingbrough, North Yorkshire is set to hand over the 71 route to Go-Ahead-owned East Yorkshire on 14 April.

The rural Service 1 route has been operated by Thornes since 1952, the same year Queen Elizabeth acceded to the throne.

Running between the operator’s former home village of Bubwith and Selby, the service’s history can is thought to date back to the 1920s or even earlier. It was originally operated by Ernest Harrison of Bubwith, trading as Heather Bus. Mr Harrison sold out to Percy Walls, an operator in neighbouring Holme Upon Spalding Moor, six miles to the east. The route by this time was a six day a week service extending from Holme through Bubwith to Selby. In 1932 Walls himself sold out to the York Pullman Bus Co and Walls’ depot continued as an outstation for that operator for a further 20 years. Another route operated by Pullman between Holme Upon Spalding and York continues to this day, currently served by East Yorkshire, but it has seen numerous incumbent operators over the years.

In 1952 York Pullman decided to close the Holme-Moor outstation retaining the York route to operate from its primary base in York but selling the Selby service to J.H.Thornes of Bubwith, a fledgling operator at the time. Jack Thornes extended the route even further to the east and for a relatively short time provided a 20 mile through-journey from Market Weighton to Selby. The route settled down to serving Holme Moor on Mondays only (Selby market day), but otherwise a six day a week service from Bubwith, featuring frequent timings each way on both Mondays and Saturdays. However the route has been cut back progressively over the years until now just two journeys per week are being provided.

The route started to receive subsidy in the 1970s from Humberside County Council under the de minimis arrangement and this continued when Humberside reverted to East Riding of Yorkshire some years later. Eventually North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) took over the payment arrangements as the majority of the route now operated within its territory. In time NYCC decided to end the de minimis arrangement and put the route out to tender and on each successive occasion Thornes’ has been the successful bidder, until losing out to East Yorkshire this year.

Thornes Independent is nowadays managed by Jane and Zoe Thornes, the third generation of the family to run the business. Their father Philip has written a book on the company history. The book was printed in 2018 and contains just short of 400 photographs, with a full list of all vehicles owned plus details of our varied operations over the years. Although initially priced at £29.95 it is now available from Thornes office at £20 per copy including post and packaging.

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