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From Boots & Bikes to A Village Garage

Longworth & District History Society & published in KBSNews

Mr Cox mended boots, shoes & bicycles where Cross Roads Garage now stands – “a tin tabernacle” (a corrugated iron boarded construction) according to Basil Cliff who, with Georgina, bought the remainder of the lease from Mr Cox in 1945.

Another of Cliffs-Garage 1948

"Providence Villa”

"Providence Villa” was a red brick house in about ¾ acre of land on the corner and the Cliffs, bought the remainder of the lease from Mr. Cox Notice board advertising while Basil was away in the army. In 1946 they moved to find, oh joy of Mr Cox’s Business joys – the house was dreadful, with no running water or indoor sanitation! This meant Georgina keeping in constant touch with her sister as she fetched all her water in buckets from her house across the road! Later, St.John’s College sold them the Freehold.

Building up the business

Mr Cox may have mended bicycles but Basil did everything but. He repaired tractors, combines, motor boats, anything and everything except bicycles. Clearly ahead of his time, Basil also ran a mobile mechanics service, mainly for local farmers, from an imaginatively kitted out van. It was just after the war so spare parts and raw materials were difficult to come by and Basil, along with everyone else at this time, had to make do and mend. Fortunately Basil had an engineer’s training, initiative and loads of imagination. In 1950 two petrol pumps were installed, doubling by 1956 and swiftly followed in 1960 by the showroom - the house becoming offices and storage and the Cliffs moving to the bungalow next door.

Cliffs Garage 1948

Rejected by British companies as the ‘wrong location’ Renault was granted the franchise and the busiest period followed, requiring larger workshops and an extension to the parts department. In 1983 a new canopy was erected and self service for the petrol began. Georgina rejoiced, “It was absolutely marvellous when we could come inside and stay inside and let the customers get wet instead of us!” In 1992 whilst the village rejoiced as the Kingston Bagpuize by-pass opened, the Cliffs sadly watched their petrol sales halve, and the village eventually lost its petrol pumps entirely in March 2005 shortly after the death of Basil Cliff. 2008 the garage now concentrates on car sales, services and MOT.