About Us

The founder of our company John Howden Thornes moved to Bubwith in East Yorkshire in 1948 to take over Derwent Garage, a motor repair business and filling station. To supplement his income he operated two taxis on a contract taking children to the local primary school. When numbers rose in 1950 and a bus was needed he purchased a 1936 Bedford WTB with 25 seat Burlingham coach body. In 1952 he purchased licences from another operator which enabled him to not only operate a local bus service from Holme Upon Spalding Moor to Selby (which the company still runs to this day) but also  'advertised' Day Excursions to the coast and local theatres etc.

A name change from ' J H Thornes ' to Thornes Motor Services ' reflected the diverse activities of the motor repair business and the bus & coach services. Through the 1950s and early 1960s the bus business expanded ' contract ' customers included the Ministry of Defence, Danepak of Selby, John Laing Construction and the Local Education Authorities. In 1967 double deckers were added to the fleet and in 1972 the first of numerous brand new coaches fitted with Scarborough built Plaxton coach bodies arrived with the Bubwith operator. In 1980 the first phase of the abolition of Road Service Licensing saw Thornes, (with second generation family members at the helm) take full advantage of this new scenario and a thriving coach holiday and day excursion business was built up. More local bus routes were amassed and in the early part of the new millennium these were branded as ' The Rural Rambler ' and PATH (People and Transport in Howdenshire). The company name was changed to Thornes Independent Ltd in 1999 as this reflected a connection with Independent Coachways, an autonomous company in West Yorkshire in which some members of the family had taken control in 1987. In 2002 Thornes' moved spacious to new premises in Hemingbrough six miles from the original base. Hemingbrough is conveniently located for Selby, York and Goole.  Investment in new vehicles has continued and in 2014 the family took over Colliers Minicoaches of Selby adding three more vehicles and Colliers Self Drive Hire with a fleet of 'self-drive' vans and trucks.

Nowadays the company is run by a dedicated team with third generation family members holding key positions in management. The company specialises in Private Hire and can assist organisers with planning and booking their requirements. Vehicles are maintained by experienced qualified engineers in a purpose built workshop. A professional enthusiastic team of drivers ensures the company's image remains highly polished. However as an aside, the firm is proud of its small fleet of vintage coaches which operate a programme of successful Heritage Transport Holidays throughout each year and for which the company has become renowned.     


If you would like to purchase any of the below merchandise, please contact us on 01757 630777

  • Commemorative Latte Coffee Mugs £3.00 + pp
  • Commemorative Torch Pens £2.00 + pp
  • Archive Footage DVD’s £3.00 + pp

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