A teenage girl has become the sixth generation of the same family to work for an historic bus company which has been carrying passengers for 120 years.
Jennifer Delaine-Smith, 18, passed her A-levels and left school to join Delaine Buses, which has been operating services near Bourne, Lincs., since 1890.
The company was founded by her great-great-great-grandfather Bennett Smith when he began using a horse and cart to give people lifts to market.
The family business has gone from strength to strength since then and it now owns a fleet of 20 buses, which run over ten routes.
Jennifer, who lives in Bourne, Lincs., hopes to follow in her father Anthony’s footsteps by working her way through the company to become a manager.
She said: ”I’ve always been interested in buses because I have grown up with the family history all around me.
”I worked for the company in my school holidays so I have never known anything different.
”I’m really enjoying it so far and learning new things every day. It’s an interesting career and it has been fun working with my dad.
”Even though I work with him and my three uncles they haven’t ganged up on me
– yet. I’m just waiting to pass my bus license and get on the road.”
‘Smith Buses’ was founded in 1890 after Bennett Smith used his horse and cart vegetable transportation business to take paying passengers to market.
When his son William Smith took over the company it expanded quickly and is believed to have offered one of the earliest bus timetables in British history.
William’s son Thomas Arthur Smith took over the business in 1910 and introduced the company’s first motorised bus in 1919.
He spent £495 buying the 14 seater Ford Model T bus and changed the company name to ‘Delaine Buses’ at his wife’s insistence.
By 1923 he had expanded to run ten different services, all of which are still manned by Delaine Buses today.
When Thomas Arthur Smith, who was made MBE for services to public transport in 1955, died in 1958 his son Hugh Delaine-Smith took over.
Hugh, who fought for the RAF in World War Two, carried on the business until he died in 1995 and handed over to sons Anthony, Ian, 63, Kevin, 58 and Mark, 40.
Incredibly, dedicated Beryl Tilley, 86, Anthony’s aunt, began working in 1939 when Hugh went to war and still works three days a week – a 71 year career.
The four brothers now manage the business together and they welcomed Jennifer into the fold in July this year after she completed her A-levels.
Throughout the company’s history family members have been forced to work their way up from bus driver to manager and Jennifer will be no exception.
She is currently carrying out office work but hopes to pass her bus license soon.
Anthony, who has another 12-year-old daughter, yesterday revealed Delaine Buses has catered for ”many millions” of passengers.
He said: ”I’m very proud of Jennifer following in my footsteps. She is the future of the company now and I hope her children will continue for many generations to come.
”I’d like to think she will become a manager herself one day and she certainly has the ability to keep it going.
”She’s enjoying learning the ropes and we are making sure that she works her way through the ranks.
”It’s an incredible family history and over the years we must have carried many millions of passengers to their destinations.”
The history of Delaine Buses has been compiled into ‘The Delaine Book’, which costs £12 and was written by former driver Peter Moore, 68, of Thurlby, Lincs.