End of an era as Ian puts familiy garage up for sale
FOR almost nine decades the Tallentire family of Middleton-in-Teesdale have been at the helm of Alston Road Garage, offering services, sales, fuel and taxi service.
However, the coronavirus lockdown has given current owners, Ruth and Ian, time to reflect and they have taken the difficult decision to sell the business. Mr Tallentire, who has spent his entire working life at the garage, said: “The garage has been on the site since 1924. My grandfather Walter [Tallentire] originally started work here as a senior mechanic in 1928 when it sold mainly agricultural machinery and tractors. He was a steam wagon driver before he came to the garage and back then Gowlands still had steam vehicles.”
Walter took over the garage with partner Vince Allinson in 1933 and it became Alston Road Garage.
Later the business passed to his father, Roy, who ran it for many years with Mr Tallentire’s elder brother, Russell. For the last decade Ian and wife Ruth have been at the helm. He added: “The garage was mainly agricultural selling tractors and has had various franchises over the years including Triumph. It has been a Ford dealership since 1963 and exclusively for new cars since 1966.
“I started work here when I was 18. I had wanted to work on the railways but that didn’t pan out.”
Although the business was then owned by his father and brother, Ian didn’t automatically get the job.
He said “I remember writing to my father and brother and asking for a job at the garage. I can’t remember what was said, but I do think there was an interview in the office.”
When he joined the company, Ian trained in mechanics, spraying and body work, as well as getting the behind the wheel of the company’s own breakdown vehicle.
Ian said: “We used to do a lot of breakdowns and my grandfather converted an old army truck into a breakdown vehicle and I got my HGV licence and used to drive that.
“There were quite a few interesting excursions out and about on the moor in it up to St John’s Chapel to pull cars out and especially at Eggleston bends. You had to put chocks under the wheels and hammer pegs into the ground so you could winch a vehicle out.”
More recently he has concentrated on car sales and said there has been a flurry of purchases since lockdown lifted with buyers keen to get the latest models.
He added: “Selling cars has changed dramatically over the years. I remember when I first started customers would come into the showroom and just say ‘I’ll have this yan’. Whereas now the choice of colours alone is exponential and it’s very rare to walk in and pick up a new car on the same day as they are usually built to order.”
The couple said their decision to sell the business was a difficult one and down to a number of factors.
Mr Tallentire said: “The Covid lockdown made us think and instead of plodding on we took stock. Ford are contracting their dealerships and will be ending their sales contract at the end of this year. We will still be an authorised repair centre and sell second hand cars. One reason is our health – we need to get back to good health.”
Changes in the motor industry with the coming of electrification of vehicles have also given them pause for thought. He added: “We are sad, but with the changes and health I think the business needs someone a little younger to drive it forward. It will take time to sell the business but we are looking forward to taking things easy when we can, take holidays when they are permitted, and visit family in Canada.”