Moreton Page 4

Stavordale Service Station & Marcos Salesroom

by  Nick Welch

As I stated on the first Moreton page, I was brought up at 14 Hoylake Road, directly opposite the Super Garage. In the mid 60s, somehow planning permission was obtained to build the Stavordale Service Station (Jet) right next door, between the Super Garage (Shell) and Stavordale Road. At this time I was working at the Super Garage, serving fuel. 4 gallons of Shell cost was the equivalent of 95p today. Later on, in 1971 I left Moreton for the Army, returning briefly in 1974, before meeting my wife to be and moving to Rock Ferry. In 1981 we sold our home in Rock Ferry and moved to Germany as I was now back in the Army.

Anyway, up to date - and I received an email from Nick Welch, a Marcos car expert, who had found references to a 'Stavordale Garage' that built these cars from kits. It was addressed as 21 Hoylake Road. The Super Garage had long changed into a car salesroom, and the Jet garage (Stavordale) also became a car saleroom, probably an extension of the 3 Counties?

However, a few years ago, the entire section of the Super Garage and the Jet was levelled to make way for a supermarket. A gent by the name of Harry Pleavin sent me photo's of the demolition which he took from his upper window opposite. Here then is Tony Welch's article of a car and the location.

LIVING IN THE TLC (Top Left Corner) of Wales, or the Isle of Anglesey, to be more precise, the sight of a Marcos, other than my own, is a very rare occurrence. In the past there have been two or three Anglesey-registered (EY) coupes and another locally owned coupe, none of which I ever saw, only moving to this part of the country in 1999. One was JEY 745G a 1968 wood chassised 1600 belonging, I think, to a Robin Maitland and OEY 935K, a 3L Volvo, chassis 3V/5899, owned, among others by John Spilsbury in Stockport.

I know of two other MOC members in north Wales, one, Alun Price, had a couple of 3L Volvos and Hadyn Ward, who bought John White’s wooden 1600GT (SYC 345G), chassis 5325 quite some years ago (about twelve) and has been under a meticulous restoration by Hadyn ever since. The mechanics and wooden chassis have been completed, but at the time of writing, not the glass-fibre bodywork.

A Marcos circa 1965

Alun replaced his first 3L Volvo (CAA 12K) with a second 3L Volvo (WLJ 44J, 3V 5936) which itself was eventually sold to Valerie Vincetto in Italy. Bought sight unseen! Alun now has a very nice Lotus Elan and only very recently gave up his MOC membership. So, a Marcos is a pretty rare animal hereabouts but last year, when our regular postie was on holiday, his relief arrived one morning with the usual collection of junk mail and, on the front drive we got chatting. Presumably one or more cars were either on the drive, or visible through the garage doors and he seemed quite interested in classic cars. It turned out that his father had a 1940’s Triumph Roadster and he had inherited his father’s passion for old motors.

He instantly recognised the Marcos and said that he knew somebody on the island “who used to build Marcoses when he worked at TJ’s garage in Llangefni in the late 1960s”. I actually took this with a pinch of salt (it seemed a bit unlikely to me) but he gave me the person’s name (a Gareth Jones) and reeled off both his home and mobile telephone numbers which I kept. For eighteen months this piece of paper with the name and numbers on it resided behind a mains cable above one of the kitchen cabinets, ever mindful that I really must give the guy a ring. In October this year (2015) our postie had a week off and his relief (Ivor) turned up again. Once more I had to apologise to him and admit that I still had the phone numbers and would phone him that evening, which I did, and yes, the rumours were true, he did help to build up Marcoses, when he was an apprentice at TJ’s in 1969. A meeting was arranged for the following day and as the Marcos hadn’t been run since the rally at Prescott three months before, I needed to charge the battery. Sometimes I despair at the quality of the items we have to put up with these days! I put the battery in the car in 2002 so it had only lasted thirteen years before starting to need a charge. Terrible - because its red case nicely matched the car up to that point. It’s a normal 3-year Warranty Unipart battery which was provided as a replacement for its previous one - a blue-cased ‘Lifetime Guarantee’ battery that I had installed in 1982. In about 2000 Unipart discontinued selling their ‘Lifetime Guarantee’ batteries, but if you had one fail they would replace it with a 3  year Warranty one.

Interestingly, somebody ‘in the know’ from Unipart told me that there absolutely no difference between the two types of battery - only the colour of its case and its price! Now, of course, all the pieces of paper and cards that I have for the batteries I have been using on my four cars since 1978 are now worthless as Unipart no longer exists! The following day we drove off around the island to where Gareth lives and spent a very enjoyable three or four hours chatting about cars. He has a twenty-year-old Ferrari 428 (about as wide as a bus) and his wife’s 1973 MG Midgetwhich he rebuilt and  painted himself about twenty-five years ago which is absolutely immaculate.

Super Garage (red roof) Stavordale Motors was this side of it

As far as his involvement with Marcos cars was concerned, he was an apprentice at TJ’s Garage in Llangefni on Anglesey, a Ford dealership (and still is, as TJ Ford) and until 2015 was still in the same premises and as a Ford dealership until moving around the corner to the inevitable industrial estate. On a Friday afternoon (not every Friday, but as there was a demand) one or two body/chassis units would arrive “from a garage near Liverpool” and the garage mechanics would stay on after 5.30pm and unload these units on their dollies and wheel them into the workshop where, that evening and over the weekend, it, or they, would be assembled. To an apprentice, the opportunity to earn some useful overtime pay was very attractive and this went on for some time.

Assembly in those days was really rather a doddle and has been written about at least twice to my knowledge. Motor magazine managed it in 1969 with one of the last wooden-chassised 1600s, admittedly with five people, in just over a day, a far cry from the kits supplied in the 1980s. These early cars arrived from the factory already painted and trimmed, just requiring the installation of the modified Ford rear axle and suspension, front suspension, steering wheel and engine/gearbox assembly. This latter was made easier if the fitted bonnet was removed and the seats taken out to enable seat belts to be later fitted. Then, off with the transmission tunnel top panel for access to the top of the gearbox for the speedodrive to be attached and the gearbox could then be filled with oil.

If the gearbox were to be filled with oil before installation it all tended to run out of the gearbox tail as the engine and gearbox were tilted whilst manoevring the units into position. Then the propshaft, radiator and exhaust system were fitted, services connected and away you went! The lack of these items being fitted was purely to avoid the purchaser from payment of Purchase Tax. It always amused me when owners, when selling their cars, thought that being a ‘factory-built’ car meant that it was superior in some way to any other, because they were all supplied virtually complete. No assembly instructions were provided (to again avoid Purchase Tax) but no specialist Marcos knowledge was really required, everything that had to be done was pretty much common sense.

Monday morning would arrive and the completed cars would be trailered off back to be sold as complete cars by the garage “near Liverpool”. I’d never heard of a ‘dealer’ in Liverpool, but in the dim and distant past I seemed to recall a dealer in what is now known as the ‘Merseyside’ area and started hunting through my back magazines. I came across an advert for Stavordale Garage in the Wirral (shown on previous page) which looked promising as Gareth had mentioned the name Ivor Jones in his reminiscences. I then began Google-mapping up and down Hoylake Road but could find neither a suitable garage nor No 21. Over quick response came from a Mike Kemble who had worked in the garage next to Stavordale in the mid-’sixties and provided the photographs in this article. It turned out that I’d been looking at the wrong end of quite a long main road and he had attached several photographs of the garages (I believe there were up to five in total). Mike had worked in the black and white building with red roof in the photographs which was also known as the ‘Super Garage’. On the photographs on the previous page it is shown as the ‘3 Counties Garage’, and sold Shell petrol. Mike lived over the road from the garages and his sister Jan, who worked at Stavordale, is the tall girl on the right of the picture.

Next to ‘3 Counties’ is Stavordale Garage, the square-shaped grey building beyond ‘3 Counties’, shown on the previous page, which sold Jet petrol. Mike remembers well both Ivor Jones and Roy Humpage, Ivor also had the car salesroom next to Birkenhead Central station. (image below). Despite Mike’s moving away from here in 1971 he had managed to obtain photographs of the garages being demolished.

(c) Nick Welch. 2015

By a strange coicidence, a car is mentioned as being a wooden chassis'd Marcos belonging to a John White. John White, if its the same person, lived in the 60s near Torquay and had a blue Marcos which he repainted matt black. It had a wooden chassis!!  This man is now married to my sister (above pic right hand side) and they live in Cornwall.
The 5 garages Tony mentioned, that went from Reeds Lane to Moreton Cross were:

1. Super Garage
2. Stavordale Motors/Jet
3. Gates of Moreton
4. Atlantic Garage
5. Postons (the only one on the right hand side). Postons originally was on the site of Stavordale Motors.