Lost BMC : Stalham, Norfolk

AROnline introduces what we hope will be a popular new series of reader-submitted stories. We’re asking you to locate the sites of the old BMC dealerships and show us what’s there now.

Ian Nicholls explains…


Because of its proliferation of inherited marques, the British Motor Corporation possessed a large dealer network, sometimes having competing dealers in the same town. What now remains of this once substantial network that once peppered the land?

In the first of a new interactive series we show what became of these sites. We begin with Stalham, in North Norfolk. The town’s BMC dealer was the Rosedale Engineering Works located at the end of the High Street. In 1959, it was an Austin dealer, and was described as a stocking trader.

As these August 2015 pictures show, the site is clearly no longer a BMC dealership, but is now the location for several small businesses. On the left is ‘The Bunker’, dealing in militaria, the ‘Fireplace Men’, which is self explanatory, ‘The Rainbow Café’ and the ‘Swap Shop’, which sells computer-related services. Apparently the ‘Fireplace Men’, ‘The Rainbow Café’ and ‘Swap Shop’ occupy what was once the car showroom. Next is a house, then the former filling station, now occupied by Stalham Car Sales. The next business is the hand car wash.

Moving behind the High Street façade we come to G and M Motor Engineers and Havers Tyres. I will shamelessly plug G and M (01692 582278), which stands for Graham and Mathew, as they look after my family’s fleet of BL tin. They even have customers bringing their classic cars from Norwich, some 15 miles distant. Both men were trained in BL dealerships. Next to Havers Tyres is the ‘One Stop Money Shop’ and the office for the hand car wash.

So the site of Rosedale Engineering Works continues to supply automotive related services, and still sells cars, albeit used ones.

Now it’s your turn! Please tell us where you live in the Comments section below, and we will tell you where your nearest BMC dealer was. All you have to do is take some pictures, and tell us what’s going on there now. It’ll be interesting tracking some of our lost history this way.



Ian Nicholls
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      • Back in 1959 there were 2 BMC dealers in Gravesend.
        I have added the modern postcodes to the address.

        Martins Garage
        50 Singlewell Road
        DA11 7PW

        This is listed as a Morris and Morris Commercial dealer.

        Spooner Motors Limited
        The Grove

        They were Austin, Austin Commercial, Morris, Wolseley and MG dealers.
        The exact location is difficult to quantify, but the site could now be Arch Autos
        39-41 The Grove
        DA12 1DX

        Over to you and good luck.

  1. Camelon.
    I know there uses to be an Austin Rover/ Rover dealer near me but I am not sure if it was a BMC garage..

  2. Crossgar / Saintfield / Downpatrick, Co Down.

    I’m also around Belfast a lot, SS Logan in Whiteabbey was the local Rover dealer for years, now doing well promoting MG locally.

    I bought my old Honda from Wm Logan in Ballyclare who may or may not be related to the above, but also seemed to be a Rover ‘specialist’.

    • Certainly Martins of Killyleagh used to be a Rover dealer, is now a Citroen dealer. The old 25s around the town made way for C3s and Picassos.

      • I have 2 dealers for Downpatrick.

        Stewarts Motor Works Limited
        Circular Road

        I can’t seem to find a postcode, so good luck on that one.
        In 1959 they were an Austin and Austin Commercials dealer.

        T. Wylie and Son
        Market Street

        This was the Morris and Wolseley dealer in the town.
        There are 2 filling stations listed there, both with the BT30 6LZ postcode, BP Connect and College Filling Station.
        Again, good luck.

        I can’t find a BMC dealer in Ballyclare.

  3. Staddons is likely to be the longest serving dealership in Devon which held franchises for BMC and its successor companies and is still a family-owned concern.The showroom for Staddons of Exmouth was demolished two years ago to make way for a Co-op store. However, their much older premises, Staddons of Budleigh Salterton, still exists and they still have a large illuminated Rover emblem hanging off the side of their three car-accommodating showroom located in the High Street. The Exmouth dealership briefly kept the MG franchise going until 2013, while the Budleigh Salterton showroom became a non-franchised showroom post MG Rover Group that would display either a classic MG, Mini or prestige soft-top model for sale.

    I will try and get some photos of it when I visit it next month.

    Slades of Sidmouth, another long established family owned dealer who held a franchise for BMC and then Rover Cars up until 1995, now trades under the name Woolbrook Ford and are Ford specialists rather than holding the actual Ford franchise. Their premises still exist and they retain a period appearance to them, even if the fuel pumps were removed from the forecourt over fifteen years ago.

    There was a BMC dealer in Seaton operated by a Bill Trevett up until about 1979/80 – he used to drive around in a Princess Special Six Automatic. He retired and sold the site which then became Rainbow Cash and Carry from 1982 up until earlier this year. The premises are now leased to the Factory Outlet company. Sadly, there are no traces of its original BMC car dealership days.

    Other local dealerships such as Harts of Honiton (a Renault dealership since September 1998) and Vospers of Honiton Road, Exeter (now a Mazda dealership and previously Sewards of Exeter, Exeter Rover and more recently EMG until 2005), can only trace their links back to the Austin Rover Group days of the mid 1980s.

    There, that is East Devon and part of Exeter covered for you!

  4. Well, from the age of about 11 to my early twenties I lived in Cockermouth, a market town in north Cumbria on the Lake District Border. There were two Austin Morris dealers – Wilde which became an antique showroom many years ago. J V Ellwood was the other. This remained a filling station and workshop owned by the Benn brothers. There was a fire there a couple of years ago but I assume it’s again up and running as a filling station.

    I now live in Prenton near Birkenhead. I have no idea where BMC dealers used to be save Windsors of Wallasey which was an MGR dealer to the end.

    • There are loads of dealers for Birkenhead, but I have one on your doorstep.

      J.W. Battye (Birkenhead) Ltd
      Woodchurch Road

      They were an Austin dealer.

  5. Go back to the seventies in Whitehaven and the surrounding area and you had Edgar and Son( survived until the bitter end), TBH Motors, Studholme and Dickson, Walkingshaws, Jubilee Garage, John Timmins and another in Holmrook that kept going until the early nineties. Of those that survive, Edgars are very successful Nissan, Suzuki and Hyundai dealers, TBH Motors moved into SEAT when they were becoming successful and Walkingshaws sell Volkswagen and Kia, the others fizzled out when they gave up the franchise.

  6. In the 1990s my local Rover dealer was Drakes of Shiptonthorpe, who are still trading but now sell Renaults and Dacias along with becoming a Ford Service centre following the closure of Bond Ford of Pocklington. There as also Jordans of Hull, a long established garage who had several franchises but concentrated on Fiat from the late 90s, Welptons of Hessle, who post closure became Minstergate Hyundai.

    There was also Long’s of Howden who lost the Austin Rover franchise in the 1980s. They are still trading but no longer sell cars, the site being redeveloped in 2012 and just selling fuel now.

    The Austin Rover dealers for the Isle of Wight in the 1980s was Northwood Garage, near Cowes, who became a Mazda dealer then a bit later took on a Honda franchise too.

  7. In Lytham StAnnes when I was a boy there were four British Leyland dealers. In no particular order:

    Dutton Forshaw opposite he library on King St in StAnnes. Started off, I believe, as Loxhams selling Standard Triumph. This was the main dealer and the one from which my father bought a Marina, Ambassador and Maestro. Closed around 1990. Now apartments.

    WT Aked & Sons. Located next to the police station on St Georges Road. Sold BL up to about 1975 and then changed over to Volvo and, later on Chrysler. Lovely building with a private museum of vintage cars on the first floor. Demolished about five years ago I would guess.Now apartments.

    Williams Garage on Henry Street in Lytham. Started off selling Wolseleys in about 1910 I seem to remember being told. Lost BL franchise in about 1980, sold Fiats and Citroens for a couple of years, then closed down and demolished. Now, of course, apartments

    There was also a small dealership with a showroom for maybe three cars on Hove Road. No idea what it was called but the building still stands. It was a tyre fitters for some years and is now J&M Cars

    After these halcyons days, and after Dutton Forshaw closed, the Austin Rover franshise was taken over by Heyhouses Garages who had a showroom on Heyhouses Lane, now a petrol station I think, and later on Aexandria Drive in Ansdell, now Granville Auto Centre. The sequence might have been the other way round! I dont think either made it to the MG Rover era so at that time you had to go to Blackpool for your Rovering needs

  8. Hi I served my apprentership at Spooner Motors in Gravesend from1951 until 1957 and can recall all the makes of cars they sold or were agents for in my time there.

  9. When I started work in 1990 as an electrician’s apprentice in Leicester, I asked to borrow a pencil from the office, I popped it back in when finished with it.
    Fast-forward 34 years, and I am still with the same company, but now I’m in the office and I still have to this day a yellow triangular shaped pencil with a red car on a ramp and a red old school telephone with “Rosedale Engineering Works Ltd Motor Marine & Agricultural Engineers B.M.C. Agents Stalham 277” Always wondered where it came from. Anyone asking to borrow is always gladly refused, as I think it is one of the oldest bits of office stationery I have come to own.
    My old Boss had a towing caravan, so maybe he used it and made off with it. Sorry on his behalf.

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