Albatross Garage

Said to be on the east side of Station Road, roughly where the village sign now is. It can be seen on the right-hand side of the road in this picture.

In the 1916 (but not the 1908) Kelly’s there is listed Percy Hitchcock, motor & general engineer – Station: picture No.3 here must be from that period, showing the north side of the building furthest from the railway (you can see the distinctive roof of the “Reading Room”, and the arched window-tops). Percy is the tall man with braces holding the steering wheel. Thanks to Philippa Kerr (Percy’s granddaughter) for pictures 3 and 4.

In 1925 a George Gibson, motor engineer, is listed in Kelly’s, and later we hear of Underwood & Gibson, probably renting the premises from the owners of Crown Mill.

Ray Eyres was an apprentice electrician there – they had acquired a generator (DC), and were supplying various houses in the village.

Kellys 1933 lists Elmswell Electrical Supply, but there was also George Gibson again, separately, and Ball & Gibson Motor Engrs of Oakdene Garage, out along the Ashfield Road.

Fred Buckle spoke of Mr [Commander] Bird, who “had the [Albatross] garage”. A 1947 advert shows N.M.Bird as proprietor – he is an associate member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers.

Jim Baker told me that after Commander Bird, the garage was rented to a Mr Rouse who had a garage in Beyton.

After garage closed, the buildings were used for storage, and gradually deteriorated into something of an eyesore. One night someone applied a match, and the ruins were eventually demolished in 1994 to make way for the little village green with its sign and playground.

On 7th January 2010 I was very pleased to have a phone call from Graham NcNeil, to tell me that his grandfather, John McNeil, was manager of the Albatross Garage from 1937, first under Cmdr. Bird and then for Mr Rouse who had bought it in the 1950s. He lived at Old Manor House in Hawk End Lane; he was in the Home Guard, and the bowls club. His wife, working for the government, had a little store behind the garage, whence she sold orange juice and powdered milk for coupons, on Mondays from 2-4pm.

Looking at the right-hand side of Photo No.2 opposite, the nearer building was the showroom and store, and there was a track running just this side of it, at the end of the hedge, leading to the back where, for a time, the local fire engine was kept. The further building was the workshop.

Eventually the garage closed in 1962/3 and they moved to Beyton. When John retired some years later, he worked part-time for Catton’s Garage, keeping the books.

Graham himself was born in 1941, and went to school with Dick Burch, the Redits, Alan Goymer…. , leaving the village when he was 16.

Albatross Garage


Albatross Garage

2. Early days, when it was Hitchcocks

Albatross Garage

3. Who were they?

Albatross Garage

4. Burnt down!

Albatross Garage

5. Burnt down!

Albatross Garage

6. Burnt down!