End of an era as garage closes doors for last time

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If it wasn’t for Alan Marshall finding a rat at the end of his bed as a 14 year old it is entirely possible that Argyle Garage wouldn’t have got into gear.

But the discovery by Mr Marshall made him leave the job he had taken as a farm hand and move back home to his parent’s house.

Instead, he applied for a position as an apprentice mechanic and started an association with the motor trade that was to last over 70 years, ending on Friday when Argyle Garage closed its doors for the last time.

Alan, and Frank Tolomeo, who joined the family business as a manager in 1977, have decided that the time is right to close the garage, which has been trading on the West Cliff for 51 years.

Frank, who has run the business with wife Jenny since 1996, is planning to spend more time with his family in York.

He added: “It has been great. I have enjoyed it and the Marshall family have been very good to me.

“We have provided a good, old fashioned service and thank all our customers and staff who have supported us over the years.”

Alan, now 84, started the business in 1963 with his brother Owen.

They purchased the building, which back then was not much more than tin walls, from the owners of the Metropole Hotel and transformed it into a car repair, MOT and sales garage.

Alan, 84, said: “It was just an empty shell of a space we bought from the Met and we had to start from scratch.

“The 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s were the ideal time for the motor trade.”

By 1963, Alan had already been in the business for 20 years.

He started as an apprentice at “Resolution” Automobile Service Station on Monday October 4 1943 after leaving behind his plan to become a farmer.

It was based on Upgang Lane and he earned the equivalent of 70 pence for a 44 hour week with a pay increase every birthday. Due to the war effort he was often working until 9pm at night.

He worked for George Harrison for ten years but by this time was setting the wheels in motion to fulfil a new dream.

He said: “I was lucky I had 20 years in the trade, was well known and people came to me when I opened these doors.

“I was known for two things - one was working on Bedford vans and the other was Jaguar cars.

“I always had a vision in my mind where I could have space for two cars to work on - and this place came up.”

His first car was a 1932 Morris Minor he bought from an allotment in Loftus but he had more luck with his first car sale.

He said: “The chap said he would sell me it but I couldn’t have it for a fortnight. When I asked why he said it was there was a bantam hen in the back laying eggs.

“For my first car sale somebody asked me if I could get them a little car. There was a Ford Anglia at Stakesby garage (now the Spar). I paid £100 for it and sold it for £121.”

Argyle became the main dealer in the Whitby area for Rover and Triumph and in 1979 was awarded the franchise for Vauxhall.

It would also repair cars for royal guests visiting the Mulgrave Estate.

Alan said: “I have done hundreds of other things in my life other than the motor trade but I would do it all again exactly as I have done it.

“Time catches up with everyone. It is the end of an era and a life time of memories.”