This page: A look at popular household garages and motor houses built in Britain.
Domestic car garages.
A section looking at surviving commercial garage buildings of interest, has been on the site for some years, with original garages and dealerships dating back to the 1920s featured there. The idea of this page is to collate information on private domestic garages, the type that today's vintage and classic cars would once have lived in, when they were current models.
Early garages, often known as motor-houses, were often one-off constructions, designed to blend in with the homes to which they were attached, or situated alongside. Such buildings in the early 20th century were the preserve of the well-to-do, as were the horseless-carriages that resided within them. As cars became more affordable, and prices dropped to a level that opened up the world of motoring to a wider spectrum of private buyers, so too did the cost of garaging in which to house one's automobile. Companies appeared, offering a variety of different garage types to suit most pockets, ranging from cheap corrugated steel buildings, to elaborate brick-built garages with leaded windows and tiled roofs. Prior to the 1930s, few newly-built homes were built with garaging a motor-car in mind, but as time progressed, more and more homes were built that incorporated accommodation for not just the home buyer, but also their motor-car.
The publication shown below is typical of the type of leaflet handed out by garage manufacturers in the 1950s, in this case by C & R Constructions Ltd, of Halifax and also Prescot. The diagram highlights the main constructional elements of a common domestic garage, one that incorporated corrugated asbestos roof sheeting, asbestos side panels, all attached to an inner frame. The doors were built up from tongue-and-groove timbers, while 3ft x 2ft windows were fitted down one side.
To build this section up, I'm hoping to track down more leaflets like this describing domestic garages, plus period advertisements featuring these often-overlooked buildings. I'd also like to add in a gallery of original domestic garages still surviving today, say of a design typically found in the 1960s or earlier. Old garages are often swept away when houses are updated or extended. I can think of several that, in the 1970s, still existed in the road I grew up in, but have all disappeared as houses were re-modelled over the years. Hopefully some photos of surviving structures can be added in here over time.
Typical garages of the 1950s and 1960s - including timber & asbestos.
The aforementioned leaflet features a selection of images illustrating the type of garage that once was a familiar sight in British streets, in this case during the 1950s and 1960s. The leaflet features a number of garages and sheds that this one firm could supply. The first is a timber and asbestos garage, similar to that in the diagram shown above, featuring asbestos roof and side panels, with wooden doors fitted at the front. The stylised "rising sun" decorative laths fitted above the doors is typical of a post-war domestic garage building. The dangers of asbestos were not widely known in those days, and can prove to be a problem when tired old garages need clearing away prior to re-developments today. While in its formed solid state, asbestos panels are deemed to be safe to co-exist with, but on no account should they be drilled, or damaged panels handled without proper equipment.
The next building was advertised as a 100% fireproof construction, a bold claim despite being built from fire retardant asbestos panels attached to a steel frame. Quite how the timber doors could be sold as being fireproof isn't quite clear, although steel and asbestos doors were available as an option.
Designed for sites where damage from passing low-life could be an issue, is the steel corrugated garage shown in the next image. The frame was constructed from angle iron, onto which steel corrugated side panels (minus windows) were attached. The roof was asbestos.
The final garage in this leaflet is of a design most likely to feature in modern-day catalogues, the "C & R All-Timber Garage". The walls and roof panels were constructed from t&g, as were the floors and both front doors. Large double front doors, and a side-access door, all featured, and overall they make for a very good-looking structure I think, one I'd be more than happy to have. Motorcycle owners might also have been tempted by a range of smart timber sheds that C & R could also supply and erect.
Whichever garage a private home-owner chose, they could be confident that the condition of their car could only benefit as a result of secure, weatherproofed accommodation. Protection from the vagaries of the British climate, and from the thieving types who might be tempted to steal a car, were all benefits that the garage owner would enjoy. They'd also not be faced with the time-consuming task of de-frosting their car during the winter months, unlike perhaps their neighbour who had no choice but to park outside, in the driveway or worst of all, in the road.
Over time I hope to be able to dig up some interesting period items relating to home garages, and they'll be added in here.
The photo shown below, which features in the vintage gallery on the site, shows a typical 1950's car - in this case an Austin A40 Somerset - parked outside a flat-roofed garage, attached to a contemporary home.
Other garage-related items elsewhere on the site.
Dotted here and there across the site are other items that feature motor houses of some kind. An example is a letterheading dating to 1935, for Astley Brook & Company Ltd, makers of the A.B.C. fireproof garages.
Old Classic Car (C) R. Jones 2023. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.