The Journey Starts Here is an illustrated history of Connor & Graham, a 20th-century bus company
that served the Holderness community for 70 years from its headquarters in the village of Easington,
near Spurn Point. Packed with photographs, anecdotes, lists of buses and staff, this book will be of
interest to anyone who has been a passenger of Connor & Graham, has worked for them, is interested
in bus history, or wants to know more about the South Holderness Area.
The book is compiled by Mike Welton,
with text by Jan Crowther, and published by SKEALS. Over 100 pages in length with 126 photographs, the book is for sale at only £6.00
(plus £2.00 P&P). It can be obtained
from the author, tel. 01964 650265, email:
email@example.com, or at local shops in the South Holderness area.
Launched July 2009.
After World War I, motorised public transport was becoming a reality, even in rural districts. The first bus company in
East Yorkshire seems to have been established in December 1919, by Ernest John Lee, who ran a 14-seat Ford Model T bus
for a service between Elloughton and Hull. Mr. Lee was later joined by Mr. Beulah, to form the company Lee & Beulah.
So Easington was not quite the pioneer, but it was not far behind! James H. Graham and Campbell Connor were two young
Geordie shipwrights who were out of work because of the depression. Relatives had told them that there were no buses
in South Holderness, so they decided to come to Easington and try their hands at starting a service. They arrived with
a brand new 14-seater Model T Ford called Dixie, which made its maiden service into Hull on 21st October 1921. After
this the company went from strength to strength. The early services went to Patrington to connect with the trains,
and went to the eastern border of Hull (they were not allowed to go further than Marfleet, where the trams started).
Connor and Graham’s buses continued the tradition of carrier’s carts, in doing errands for people, delivering
parcels, waiting patiently for stragglers, and altogether providing an important social as well as transport service.
In October 1926 the British Automobile Traction Co. Ltd. registered the name East Yorkshire Motor Services Ltd. and took
over Lee & Beaulah’s bus company. About that time EYMS made a bid for Connor & Graham, offering Jim Graham a very
good price. He said “If it’s worth that to you it’s worth it to me”. So EYMS said they would run
him off the road. “Try it!” he said. The battle was short-lived, as the passengers remained with their local
company and the EYMS bus ran empty. Before the Bus Act of 1930 there was no regulation and it was a case of ‘dog
eat dog’. Several other small independent bus companies began operation in the 1920s, amongst them, Laidlaws of
Hedon, which started in 1923, and was later taken over by Sharps, eventually becoming subsumed by EYMS. In Withernsea,
Henry Burns, another Geordie, had started a bus company, which he sold to Lee & Beulah, and which also ultimately became
part of EYMS, as did the small companies Billingtons and Kingston. Connor & Graham remained proudly independent.
Over the years they expanded, but remained a family firm with James’ s son, Tom following him into the business.
Tom’s wife, Marjorie, also worked in the firm, and in due course their sons, Malcolm and Burton followed.
The people associated with Connor & Graham over the years reads like the story of Easington itself. Many young people
left school and went straight into employment with the firm. The routes expanded over the years so that the company
ran buses into Sunk Island, down to Spurn, and across to Withernsea serving the villages en route. Before the majority
of people had private cars Connor & Graham provided an essential service, for people to get to work in Hull, to go to
the cinema and pubs and dances in Withernsea, and, after World War II, for holiday-makers to get to the coast. The
company took parties on outings, football clubs to neighbouring grounds, airmen in the 1950s to and from their bases,
coach trips to local seaside resorts and eventually began running foreign holidays to the Continent. It is hard to
exaggerate the influence of this local company on the lives of the people of the area. Apart from passengers the buses
took parcels, newspapers, medicines, and sometimes livestock - in some ways a very similar service to the carriers!
Connor & Graham managed to survive the competition of private cars and of the bus deregulation which took place under the
Traffic Act of 1985. However, to many people’s sadness the end of the company came about in February 1993, when EYMS
finally bought the company. For a while Connor & Graham continued operating the school contracts, private hires and
excursions, but in 1994 the whole company passed to EYMS, ending 73 years of service to the people of South Holderness.
This new book is packed with photographs, anecdotes, lists of buses and staff, and will be of interest to many people.