Christine Bilham writes about her company Spratts Coaches.
Spratts Coaches was started in the early 1950’s by the late Mr Colin Spratt.
He began the business with a taxi, delivering groceries from his parents’ village store based in the centre of the village, transporting school lunches to local schools, also taking local children to and from school, plus any taxi work that was required. It was soon apparent that taxis were not large enough and with the demand increasing Colin bought his first coach.
Things just start to expand! It was not just local village groups or school outings he ran. In the early 1950’s he started tours to Switzerland and various other places throughout Europe. (He was one of the first coach operators in Norfolk to take a coach abroad.)
In December 1955 he married Gwen Symonds who helped him run the business throughout her life.
Over the next few decades the business expanded rapidly and at one stage operated 30 vehicles from the same original base at Wreningham.
Colin always came up with new ideas, being the first company in Norfolk to have coaches adapted for the disabled that took fixed wheel chairs so customers who were wheel chair bound could go out for the day. The first to have large seating capacity coaches up to 57 seats in Norfolk.Colin and his wife retired from the day to day running of the company in the 1990’s but kept a very active interest in it, advising their children Christine Bilham, Richard Spratt & Anne Riches in the running of the company.
In 2001 Colin died suddenly and the business was then run by Christine and Richard up until its closure at the end of 2018.
Gwen died of Alzheimer’s in September 2016.