Sale marks end of motoring era

Alison Oulton with the star of the sale a 1926 Austin Heavy 12 which has been owned by the garage from new..'Picture by Neil Silk  113532a
Alison Oulton with the star of the sale a 1926 Austin Heavy 12 which has been owned by the garage from new..'Picture by Neil Silk 113532a

MOTORING memorabilia is up for auction at the weekend following the closure of a garage which has served the region for almost 90 years.

W E Bradford and Sons garage in Sherburn is hosting a sale of its buildings and contents, which is expected to attract collectors from far and wide.

WE Bradford and Sons garage in Sherburn sells contents at auction..'The old storeroom at the garage..'Picture by Neil Silk  113532n'31/08/11

WE Bradford and Sons garage in Sherburn sells contents at auction..'The old storeroom at the garage..'Picture by Neil Silk 113532n'31/08/11

The garage closed following the death of its last proprietor Graham Evers Bradford, in May, at the age of 72.

Graham was the second son of the garage’s founder Walter Evers Bradford, who in 1922 built a cycle repair workshop in Sherburn.

Walter, who was born in Sherburn in 1898, left the village school at the age of 14 to be a joiner’s apprentice, but soon felt the urge to become a motor mechanic.

During the First World War Walter joined the RAF where he tested the mechanics of early flying machines such as the Salamanders, the Sopwith Camels and the Armstrong Whitworths.

After the war, as the motor industry developed, Walter seized the opportunity to establish a garage for vehicle repairs, and by 1930 he had three petrol pumps offering Shell, Pratts and Benzol.

Although few villagers in Sherburn owned cars at the time, Walter’s garage built up business as it was the only garage for miles along the A64, allowing him to capitalise on the monopoly of motorists travelling to and from Scarborough.

In 1926 Walter bought his first car; a new Austin Heavy 12/4 KH 3823.

Walter chauffeured his Austin for weddings, and began a taxi service charging 2/6d (12.5p) per three miles.

One of his regular trips was to drive children home to outlying farms when they were taken ill at school

By that time, as well as repairs, services at the garage included re-charging of wireless and car batteries, distribution of bottled gas and gas fittings, paraffin for heating and lighting and tractor fuel after farm horses became redundant.

Walter’s first son Walter Howard was born in 1927, who after leaving Scarborough Boys’ High School went to work with his father, resulting in the business being named W E Bradford & Son.

In 1939 Walter’s second son Graham Evers was born. After completing a mechanical engineering course at Scarborough Technical College Graham joined his father and his brother, and the business was renamed Walter Bradford and Sons.

The family then bought their second vehicle in 1958. It was a new Morris Isis Series II, one of 3,500 produced, powered by a six cylinder engine, four speed manual with overdrive, and an unusual gear stick located down the driver’s right side.

By that time more people were buying cars and as W E Bradford and Sons was still the only garage for miles along the A64, it became AA accredited, offering 24-hour breakdown recovery.

As business flourished the firm bought another new Austin, this time a 1964 Gipsy, with a 2.2 litre engine, considered then to be superior to a Land Rover.

This vehicle, along with the Bradfords’ first two, are now rare collectors items.

Because Walter was one of the first villagers in Sherburn to own a telephone he was responsible during the early years of the Second World War for issuing air raid warnings.

Whatever the time, Walter would cycle through the village blowing a whistle, sending people into shelters or under stairs until the all-clear, when he would cycle round again this time ringing a bell.

Walter was also Sherburn’s first chief fire officer when the Brigade was established in the 1940s in premises next to the garage. His son Howard was the first member.

Two years after Walter and his wife Alys celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary, he was still working in the office and helping Graham in the garage.

However after a short illness he died in Malton Hospital at the age of 90.

At that time more garages and petrol stations were in business and the busy days of W E Bradford & Sons had waned.

Nethertheless Graham continued to restore and sell second-hand cars until his death earlier this year.

Now the contents of the garage are being auctioned off in one of the rarest sales to be held in the area for some time.

l The sale will be held at the garage on Saturday from 10am.