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Bell's Garage, Edinburgh
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peter scott



Joined: 18 Dec 2007
Posts: 6023
Location: Edinburgh

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:54 pm    Post subject: Bell's Garage, Edinburgh Reply with quote

Seeing the SkyHi rotating lift http://www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/skyhi-lift.htm reminded me of our local garage when I was a boy. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of it but I've no doubt the description will evoke memories of other such establishments.

My memories are of Bell's Garage, Milton Road, Edinburgh. This was a large wooden clapper board shed that sat behind a forecourt of pumps mounted on an island. The shed stretched along the lefthand half at the back of the forecourt and set further back to its right was a row about 6 wooden lockups.
The large entrance door of the garage was on the side at right angles to the lockup doors and along the forecourt wall of the garage were several Castrol Oil cabinets of the type with hand pumps and pint and quart jugs.
A slightly hissing tyre pump hose stretched from a clock dial gauge mounted on the wall.

When you entered the large sliding garage doors the first thing you saw was a single point Tecalemet hydraulic lift rather like the SkiHi and you never had to wait long to hear the familiar sound of the associated compressor. The outside of the garage and the rows of lockups, there were two further rows behind the front ones, were painted in a cream colour but the interiors of both lockups and garage were really dark, being well aged rough sawn timber. On the wall behind the lift a full width wooden work bench had the usual black oil soaked appearance and was well weighted down by a mix of large vices, hand tools and pillar drills.

The garage had the same sort of scale as a small church and also sported a wooden gallery around three sides. Most of this was used for storing new tyres which were generally wrapped up in buff coloured paper, but on the right hand wall part of the gallery was enclosed as an office and this was the first thing you met after climbing the worn wooden steps.

Like everything else in the garage there was a liberal covering of greasy dirt and the bare wooden floor was nicely worn so that you felt the knots as you walked over it. The walls carried shelves of spark plugs and other small spares and the wooden desk was equipped with lots of spikes each with several inches of apparently random invoices skewered centrally. Mr Bell sat on a wooden revolving "captain's" chair and of course wore a dirty brown boiler suit beneath his tweed sports jacket. The general smell of oil, petrol and rubber was nicely offset by that of tobacco and fag ash.

This was my first introduction to the world of small garages and I just loved every visit.

Whilst I don't have any photos of the garage proper you can get a flavour of its construction from the lockups behind my first car, a BMW, Laughing which I was able to drive aged 16 on the strength of my motorcycle licence. This was the first row behind the garage. By the time this photo was taken Mr Bell had retired and the new owner, Mr Ferguson, had demolished the main garage and replaced it and the front row of lockups with a much larger brick structure with a showroom facing the forecourt but the two lockup rows to the rear remained for at least another 10 years thereafter.

Peter



I've added a couple more shots of the lock-ups and in the first you can see a terrace of houses. The house nearest to Bell's Garage was owned by Mr Stanley Mackay who ran a luxury coach business from the house and parked his all black coaches down the side of the house. His car was a black Sunbeam Talbot 90.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/59895433@N00/5086782727




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Last edited by peter scott on Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:29 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Rick
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Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 20342
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smile great memories there Peter!! I'm staggered at just how many garages there were at one time. We're approx 5 miles away from the nearest town, and I'm told that there were at least 3 or 4 garages on this stretch of road alone in the 1950s. All but one location now has housing on it, the other a former veterinary surgery (up for lease). At the latter site you can still see the raised concrete section on which petrol pumps would once have sat.

Rick
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peter scott



Joined: 18 Dec 2007
Posts: 6023
Location: Edinburgh

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Rick,

Yes, I guess cars were much more frequent visitors to garages back then but just the same there were many fewer cars. The garage I described eventually became Lothian Sports Cars but subsequently was cleared for housing just like those near you.

Peter
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Roverron



Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 135
Location: Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a theory that a lot of these small garages were started by men coming back from the Second World War. They are getting less common now because the original owner's son has reached retirement age and the site is sold for redevelopment, which is sad really. I think that is going to happen where I get my Rover tested. Bill started the garage after he came back from 'being up the desert' and now I fear that Anthony (his son) is thinking about selling the site for houses.
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peppiB



Joined: 30 Jun 2008
Posts: 687
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would agree. Family have had a garage (Morris and Riley agents originally) since 1926. Widow of original owner got a cousin to take it over when he was demobbed in 1948, and his son took it on 10 years ago. Now the site has planning permission for homes, so subject to current economy I can't see it continuing much longer. At one stage it employed over 20 staff, and having survived transition to BMC, and BL, when Austin Rover assumed command and demanded a 200,000 upgrade to the car showroom, things went into sharp decline. Now there is the owner and his son, no longer an MOT station and heading for total demolition!
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Brian M



Joined: 23 Nov 2007
Posts: 782
Location: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to the sky hi lift, a friend restores VW's of all types and rents a 25 feet square lock up which has a single post hydraulic lift, but on his the central post is over 12 inch diameter.

Next time I am there I'll try to find our more about it and perhaps take a few pics.
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