Sunday, December 04, 2016

Central Garage of Brixham - Triumph car dealer 25

Central Garage of Brixham - The owner and Ashley family members outside the original showroom
The owner and Ashley family members outside the original showroom
This is the 25th article in my series about Triumph car dealers and features Central Garage of Brixham.
Central Garage of Brixham - new showroom 1965
A new showroom in 1965

Central Garage advert which featured in the Herald Express in the 1960's
Central Garage advert which featured in the Herald Express in the 1960's


Central Garage of Brixham a short history

In 1954 Norman Ashley, his wife, Christine, and their three sons Michael, Peter and John, left 'Yat Garage', in Ross On Wye, and headed down to sunny Torbay to open a new garage.  Central Garage in Milton Street, Brixham, was born and consisted of a small workshop and 2 pairs of petrol pumps.

Norman Ashley died age 56 in 1958 leaving Christine and their three sons to continue his legacy.  A year later, in 1959, after five successful years of trading, it was time to expand. Some adjacent land, including another house for the growing family to live in, was purchased and a new car lot was built. This expansion of the company continued in 1961 with the addition of a brand new purpose built workshop featuring a 'state of the art' hydraulic lift.

In 1965, Michael, Peter and John purchased an adjoining property and decided to convert it into a new car showroom, really lifting the profile of Central Garage and showing off the 'Standard Triumph' range of cars that were available at the time. In 1967, a large workshop was erected behind the showroom, this workshop is still Central Garages' main Brixham workshop.

As Central Garages' customer base grew, new demands had to be met. One of these was Body Repairs. So, in 1973, a new Body and Paint division was built. In 1975 when Peter and John lost their eldest brother Michael, aged only 40, and, in 1977, their mother Christine sadly passed away, too.

Peter's eldest son, joining the family business in the late 1980s.Central Garage now had the Rover franchise and was selling hundreds of new Rovers every year. When John's eldest son, Scott, and Peter's youngest son, David, joined the company in the early 1990s, the Brixham base was at full capacity and had expanded as much as it could.

Then, in 1995, the Ashley family purchased the old Travis Perkins site on Newton Road, in Torquay. It had the space inside for plenty of offices and a large showroom, including a seven-bay workshop, and ample space outside for a large selection of used cars.  Construction got under way and on fireworks night in 1995,
Central Garage in Torquay opened its doors for the first time.

Peter and Simon looked after the Brixham branch whilst John, Scott and David moved to the Torquay branch. Ten years later, disaster struck. MG Rover went into administration. The business then chose Mazda.  In 2014, however, Mazda took the decision to only have large dealer groups selling new Mazdas. At this point, Central Garage was the second placed dealer in the UK for customer satisfaction!

Central Garage of Brixham switch from Mazda to MG
Central Garage of Brixham switch from Mazda to MG

Central Garages Torbay switched from Mazda to MG in 2014

Since MG Rover's demise, in 2005, the company that bought them had been developing the MG brand and planned to bring the marque back to the UK Shanghai Automotive Industries (SAIC) have been spending millions on the old Longbridge site and were looking for dealers to sell the All New range of MGs.  Central Garage was approached by MG and, after visiting Longbridge and testing the cars, agreed to return to selling MG cars again.

Rear Screen sticker


Central Garage Torquay Rear Screen Sticker
Central Garage Torquay Rear Screen Sticker
 Thanks to Sottedlaurel on flickr for the above photo.

Polling Station

A polling station has been set up in one Central Garage Brixham showrooms on at least three occasions.

Triumph dealers in Brixham

From the various Triumph car dealer directories I have I can see that:
1951 no dealer
1955 The Torbay Garage Ltd, New Road
1959 no dealer
1965, 1968, 1972, 1974 Central Garage(Brixham) Ltd, Milton Street, TQ6 0BY
Austin Rover dealer in March 1988 and Rover dealer May 1991.

Plea for more information

If you have any more information or recollections about Central Garage of Brixham, photos of window stickers, dealer badges or sill plates etc please let me know. I can be contacted via the comments to this post or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stephen.weblin

Further information and sources

Link to the other articles in this series.

Link to my Triumph Car Dealers Flickr gallery of images I have found on Flickr.

I have a collection of Standard Triumph car dealer directories: http://vitessesteve.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/triumph-car-dealer-directories.html

Picture credits: Herald Express Brixham local paper; rear window sticker photo by Spottedlaurel on flickr..
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