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Homepage. This page: A series of b/w photographs chronicle the evolution of an old garage.

HSP Motor Company, Bristol.

Credit for the following photographs goes to Paul Dickinson. He and his father worked at the HSP Motor Company Ltd, in Bristol, over a period of many years. It was situated at 33 Redcatch Road, Knowle.
In the 1920s and 1930s, garages, petrol filling stations, and workshops, were everywhere. Many evolved from earlier roles in the locality. A good number of businesses began life as blacksmiths, serving the local populace, while others started out as general engineers, bicycle repair shops, wheelrights and similar, engineering-related, services. As the interest in, and take-up of, horseless-carriages increased, so too did the number of small businesses that expanded into the support of the pioneer motorists, on two, three, and four wheels.
Paul's photos record the evolution of a typical garage, as he now relates.
"My father worked here before the war, and eventually took it over when the owner died in the late 1950s. All but the first photo is when it was in our ownership. It was pulled down in 1971 for a shopping centre car park."
"I have many happy memories of the place as I pretty much grew up in the garage, and started pumping petrol and topping up the oil bottles age 10, I started work full-time there in 1969. My father got involved in all sorts of things at the garage, we were VW dealers through most of the 1960s, then were briefly Simca dealers until they moved us out. We manufactured and sold the Opus kit car there, and got involved with Formula Vee racing in its early days. Good times."

The garage in the 1930s.

The first of Paul's photos shows the brick-built Bristol garage in the 1930s. Old petrol pumps, oil cabinets, enamel signs, tools and even a lone motor-car can all be seen. The garage also supplied Goodyear tyres, and a large selection of them can be seen hanging within the garage. As Paul says, the building has long-gone, to be replaced by a Wilko shopping centre. There is a former petrol station in the approximate area of the original garage, which is now used as a hand car-wash (the fate of many former petrol filling stations). You'd never know that an interesting garage once existed there.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
HSP Motor Company in the 1920s

Post-war years.

Now to the 1950s. The garage has, by this point, received something of a make-over. A parked c1937/1938 Austin Big Seven (reg. EKN 839) appears to have received a few gallons of BP Super. In the background, a Humber Hawk sits facing the building.
The Bristol garage in the 1950s

A window display to tempt the passing motorist.

A key alteration made to the garage, is the inclusion of a large window display area, in which a wide variety of motoring-related products were offered. Competition between garages, which were still quite numerous in villages, towns and cities across the country, was intense, so any opportunity to attract in new custom was to be grabbed.
Many items of interest to automobilia collectors today, are shown. A sign for Lodge Spark Plugs catches my eye, although others for India tyres, Lucas batteries and "twinlamp sets", and for the once-popular brand of car tyre John Bull, are also very desirable today. The BP Energol oil bottles and display cabinets, are also smart, again designed to catch the eye of passing motorists. Who remembers "Cure-C-Cure" puncture repair kits? Few of the companies represented in this photo are still with us today, although the rust-busting products sold under the Jenolite name are still available.
A window display of motoring products at a garage

For sale, a 100E and a Renault Dauphine.

Most garages didn't just serve petrol, offer repair services, and sell products, they'd also offer a number of cars for sale. Here, a pair of four-door saloons await new owners. To the left is a traditional slice of 1950s' motoring fare, in the three-box shape of Ford's 100E Prefect model - yours for 525 GBP. Registered 534 CHU, a Bristol-area series, it dates to 1958. Alongside is an apparently un-registered Renault Dauphine.
A Renault Dauphine and Ford Prefect 100E on sale

Late 1960s, and an Opus HRF kit-car.

The garage's days were numbered by this time, Paul recalls that the site was sold for development in 1971. Shown bearing trade plates is a groovy Opus HRF ("Hot Rod Ford") kit car, an offering that came on-stream in 1967 of which 250+ examples were sold in total. The idea behind it was to offer a low-cost "hot rod" car that an enthusiastic spanner-wielder could assemble in their own garage, using 105E Anglia running gear. Very much "of its time", and with an easily-tuned engine nestled beneath its lightweight retro bodywork, probably quite a lively car.
Opus HRF kit car
My thanks to Paul for allowing me to share his photos here. A perusal of this site's image archive (link below) will bring up a good number of older garages, photographed in their prime. Here are just a few examples: Ashford Motors, Aston's Garages, and The Causeway Garage.
Return to Page 19 in the photographic archive, or visit the main index here.

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