Obituary – Heyfordian founder Jim Smith

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The founder of Heyfordian Travel, James Thomas Smith, died on April 18, aged 93. His funeral was held on Friday (May 1).

Universally known as ‘Jim’ he was born in Guilden Morden, Cambridgeshire born in October 1921, but spent his formative years in the town of Cranleigh in Surrey where his father established a general haulage company.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the War Department commandeered the majority of their fleet of lorries and sent the family to Oxfordshire with the remaining vehicle. Jim and his father helped to construct aircraft dispersal areas for the expansion of the Upper Heyford aerodrome. It was here in 1941 that he married his wife Kathleen, who was born in the village.

Later he was called up for service in the RAF and by chance found himself back at RAF Upper Heyford as the war ended. Whilst waiting to be discharged, he singlehandedly reassembled a number of engines from a pile of components discarded in a corner of a warehouse. One such engine belonged to a bus which he purchased from the Station Commander in return for a promise to convey the servicemen to London for weekend leave. This bus formed the beginnings of what was to become Heyfordian Travel, named after the village of Upper Heyford.

With the arrival of American forces at the aerodrome in the early 1950s, Heyfordian expanded with daily bus services to Oxford and Northampton. Jim’s four sons joined the business in the 1960s and 70s when further expansion via acquisitions took place.

Jim still retained a keen interest in the day to day operation of Heyfordian well into his 90s. He is survived by four sons and a daughter.