Happy days at garage

The former Squires Snooker & Sports Bar on Penny Street in Lancaster.
The former Squires Snooker & Sports Bar on Penny Street in Lancaster.

The front page of the Lancaster Guardian on January 8 about the demolition of Squire’s Snooker Hall (City eyesore gets its big break) set my nostalgia going.

This is because I was an apprentice mechanic there from 1955 to 1961 when it was Loxham’s Garage which was part of a group with branches in Blackburn, Preston, Morecambe and Barrow as well.

The garage was the main dealer for Morris, Wolseley, Riley and MG and Nuffield Tractors plus Morris Commercial trucks.

I assume the building would be built by Loxham’s, possibly in the late 30s, because I understand the workshop was used for war work during the Second World War then returned to a garage after the war ended. It would have been an iconic building in its time.

I have happy memories of my apprenticeship from the age of 15 to 21-years-of-age.

In those days you worked with one skilled mechanic (in my case Ronnie Carradus) for about three years until you were put on to your own jobs, but still learning.

The Penny Street building consisted of (on the left) a plush car showroom with sales office and general office. Next to that was a vehicle lift with sliding steel gates (used to take cars up to the workshop on the first floor). To the right was the drive-in petrol forecourt (still recognisable), a car wash, workshop space and lubrication ramp.

There was the stores with front counter and side counter for staff. A staircase led up to the main workshop which included a two vehicle paint shop and a brew room for workshop staff.

Over the showroom was a car storage area and three or four offices for managers and typists with a staircase down to the showroom.

There would be about 20 or 25 staff with sales, workshop and stores plus managers.

In about 1959 the company bought premises on Queen Street (now PIB Funerals) which were converted into workshops (two floors) and stores with a small showroom for one vehicle which sometimes contained a new Nuffield tractor.

There was also a big yard and covered area and a ramp on the right to drive vehicles to the first floor.

The Penny Street building was then used just for sales and petrol.

Some years later Loxham’s Garage moved to premises on Willow Lane.

Happy days but time and motoring have moved on.

Alan Brown


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