Norman’s Garage

Norman’s Garage was a petrol forecourt and car showroom that sold Talbot and Chrysler cars. It was on the west corner of Stowe and Bath Road. This photograph was probably taken around September 1982 and is looking from Stowe Road, across Norman’s forecourt towards Everett’s Corner. A few years before this photograph was taken, as a schoolboy I had been able to get a part-time job working as an attendant on the petrol forecourt of Norman’s. The only job I’d previously had was a paper round, delivering the Evening Mail. I had to walk a considerable amount of the St Andrews estate and had the added loathsome chore of collecting weekly subscriptions. The pay was poor and after around two months I gave it up.

The pay was much better working at Norman’s, which involved  a fair amount of responsibility for a 15 year old. This was in the days before self-service when the attendants operated the pumps. The pumps were an older type than seen here and were mostly ‘blenders’ which had a handle to select between 2, 3 and 4 star octanes. You got to learn the right type of petrol for each model of car.

There would usually be an avuncular attendant working with me. There were four of these guys and they were all characters. The youngest was probably in his fifties and was a strongly self-assured caustic wit, another was a quiet polish war veteran who was whispered to have witnessed Nazi atrocities, one was strange (he probably had senile dementia), and the last had terminal lung disease. I don’t think I had conversed with many adults and we didn’t talk that much at first, although the atmosphere in the kiosk/office was always lukewarm and incidentally, thick with the smoke from our cigarettes. In time, funny stories read from our respective papers would be exchanged between us.

I don’t think I was ever late for work. Sometimes, when undermanned due to unforeseen circumstances I would get to Norman’s within 15 minutes of being called without a second thought.  Occasionally, on a Sunday (when there would be less than 20 cars per hour) I would be left alone on the premises. At 1 pm I’d switch the contact breaker, empty the register, count the takings, close up the kiosk, put the takings in the night safe, lock the showroom and post the key through the security letterbox. I had the sequence well memorised. Once or twice I found an unexpected bonus in my pay-packet.

The canopy you can see in the picture hadn’t been put up during the time I worked there and when it rained you got wet. The worst was when a customer pulled up in the middle of a rain storm and it was your turn to serve.

Norman’s garage was demolished in 1987.

 

 

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2 Responses to Norman’s Garage

  1. Philip D W says:

    I started my mechanics apprenticeship at Normans ..The Normans family were very good to me as I was a bit of a tearaway to say the least and looking back they could of pulled the plug but never did..The family consisted of BAZIL KEN PETER CAROL YVONNE JOHN BOB MIKE , I also owe a debt to the service manager Roy Yerby who stuck with me when I failed my First lot of Exams..instead of sacking me he put me in for my exams again a few months later and also gave me a load of advice and a kick up the backside of how my future would turn out if my attitude stayed the same …with all this ringing in my ears and his belief i passed with distinctions in fact as the years went by i never failed an exam with less than a credit ..The polish chap your talking about is in the photo filling the car with fuel..During my years I did nights on the forecourt to top my apprentice wage …I finished my apprentiship there and was then foreman at Conquest over the road…later I started a very successful Nissan garage that went for many years in the maidenhead area….I’m now retired and living in a beutifull cottage in the country I’ve also bought my children homes as well….All thanks to the belief the Normans family and Mr Yerby had in me…It was a he’ll of a place to work remember a lot of the older blokes there had been through a war, Arthur Daniels “Danny” in the machine shop used to put the fear of god into people but me and him got on so well ,he was the spit of churchill and the advice he used to give me still rings true today…

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  2. Dennis Morgan says:

    I also did my 5 year apprenticeship at Normans Garage from age 17 until 1966. I remember Frank who had been in a concentration camp and he had to wear a special corset because of the ill treatment he received there. When I was 17 I was working in a pit and a maintenance man who was building safety rails around the pit slipped down before me and hit his head and died in front of me. I think his name was Bill. I don’t remember the Norman women and John, Bob & Mike. I went from Normans to Maidenhead Autos Taplow, then South Bucks at 3 Tuns which became Dells Autos, Lex Mead Maidenhead and Woburn Green which changed to Pendragon. I moved from Woodley to live on the Isle of Wight in January 2020.

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