Alex Hayes, This Is Local London, 26th February, 2009
A landmark High Wycombe garage will close its doors for the final time on Saturday.
The SMC MG Rover garage is closing because the lease has expired on its London Road base, where there has been a garage since 1947.
Now 20 members of staff face the task of finding new employment, as the site next to the Hatters Lane junction will be turned into storage units.
Mick Kemsley, who has worked at the garage for 27 years, said: “Rover owned the site, but it got put up for sale in 2005. SMC tried to buy it but were outbid by Big Yellow, and the lease expires on Saturday.
“Given the economic situation at the moment it could not have come at a worse time for us. We have been looking for the last few weeks but as far as I know only one person has found another job.
“It’s really sad as it’s an institution. People that have used the garage for years to buy their cars or get services now have to go and find another place to take their cars.”
The garage, which provided car sales, servicing and car parts, wa originally opened as Gregory’s, before being taken over by Henleys, Cowies, Keep and Arriva before SMC bought the franchise in 2002.
In its heyday the garage employed more than 60 staff members, although trade was affected by the demise of MG Rover in 2005. TV presenter Fern Britton was a regular customer at the garage for many years.
Robert Coombs, 41, started as an apprentice mechanic at the garage when he was just 17. He said: “I have a wife and three kids but now I find I do not have a job. You never think this was going to happen when you have been somewhere for so long.
“Now I have to find a way to pay the mortgage next month. One of the best things about this place has been the people and the banter. I will really miss the social side of things here.”
[Source: This Is Local London]
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