The best time of my life

Vintage petrol pumps
From the private collection of J. Drury

My mentor was a super guy

I served an apprenticeship, and worked as a mechanic at Moore’s from 1962 to 1968. My mentor was Charlie Bowley, what a guy. Some of the other mechanics were Sid Blake, Reg Winterbourne, Rue Egler and Brian Wenham. Some of the other apprentices were: John Berry, Ray Phillps, (paintshop under Jock ?), Mike Scott (Rolls-Royce), John Bailey, Roy Spencer(electrician). The Triumph foreman was Ginger Lovejoy, he was a super guy.

Working on the Jags and Daimlers

The owner Bill Cannell had a farm at the back of Brighton, and whenever any of the tractors or equipment needed repair, Charlie would take me with him to the farm for the day. I later worked on the Jags, and finally ended up doing the Jags and Daimlers, I also did the funeral cars and hearses, I can’t remember the name of the guy I took over from, but I remember he was always smoking his pipe. This part of the shop I worked with Nigel May, Rob Oram, Gord Tugwell was the foreman, and Fred Thomsett was the manager, he later moved to a teaching place in Lancing and Ray Pope took his place.

 Disaster with an E-Type Jag

I remember one apprentice drove a new E Type nose first into a pit. John Bampton was the grease bay tech, he won the Second World War almost by himself. Sorry to those whose names I currently can’t remember, but who can forget the two beauties in the upper office, Linda Haden and Jill Parsons. Moores was the greatest place to work, and had the best people to work for and with. Unfortunately you do not realize how great people and places are until you are no longer with them.

A works football team

I consider my time at Moore’s to be the best time of my life. I remember we formed a football team and joined a league, we played for two or three years I think, one guy was the partsman, a scot, he was a great footballer, I think he had a try out for one of the major 1st div. Scottish teams. I have recently had some contact with John Berry and Nigel May, but as I now reside in Canada I have not seen anybody for many years

Comments about this page

  • I  remember Moores very well. They were main agents for several makes and we used to go there for spare parts when my father had the Bristol Garage in Kemp Town.

    I was recently researching a Jaguar ‘E’ Type FHC supplied by Moores in 1962, 9645CD, first owned by a Mr Francis Stratton out at Fittleworth but probably run as a demo car on Trade Plates by Moores for a few months before that as it was the 40th FHC made and date of manufacture is earlier than registration number. Most of the earlier ones either went for export or were press cars. Perhaps you remember this car? You had to be very ‘well connected’ with Jaguar to get one as early as this and I believe Bill Cannell did know William Lyons. You will probably remember that his own car was run on BSC500.

    I am pleased to see that I am not the only person to have put a car down the pit! In the 1950s we put a new service bay in, and I, full of the confidence of youth, managed to miss the left hand channel with the front wheel and put a customer’s Sunbeam Talbot 90  in the pit. Not very far in fortunately as it landed on the jacking point and we got it out using a plank under the wheel without doing any damage other than to my pride!

    You say you worked with ‘great people’. We all did in those days, a couple of our mechanics had been in the forces during the War and I learnt a lot of tricks from them. I see you are still mending ’em over the pond. The motor trade here now is a very different world to the one you remember from the 1960s. A friend of mine had one of those Suffolk Jaguars you mention on your site, looked almost like the real thing! Kept it for a few years and made a profit on it. (Tim (at) Permanden  .co  .uk) if you are interested. TCS.

    By Tim Sargeant (12/01/2017)
  • I am hoping someone remembers a Mk2 Jaguar that my dad owned. It was in the window of the Moore’s of Brighton showroom in approx 1966. It was a very special car built by John Coombs Racing. It was carmen red, had chrome wire wheels, cut up rear arches, two aviation type fuel caps, bonnet vents and leather straps. An E Type steering wheel. The best bit was the full race triple cab engine and racing pipes that, according to Dad, kept half of Brighton up at night! He says the mechanics at Moore’s loved it more than himself when it went in for services and tuning up. Sadly dad can’t remember the reg number but it was a private plate. Dad thinks it was something to do with Mr Cannell the owner of the dealer that he got it from. Any information would be fantastic. My dad can still hear the throb of the engine 50 years after selling it. Imagine if the car is still around! It would be a dream come true for Dad to see it again as a 73 year old.  As I say any info would be amazing. Thank you.

    By Richard William Brewster (27/01/2017)
  • My granddad was Reg Winterborn! He lived until he was 98. Any stories about granddad would be greatly appreciated.

    By Sue Shipp (30/07/2017)
  • I was apprenticed to a great mechanic, Alan Scobey, at Moores from 1962 in the Jag, R/R and Bentley section. £3 10s 0d. a week including Saturday morning overtime.
    I well remember the names in the OP’s post plus Gordon Tugwell. The works manager used to rush up and down the garage, with an action like a chicken, chasing jobs. I was only a little 16 yr old kid with overalls far too large for me. On my first day the mechanics lifted me up at my bench, stuffed the arse of my overalls into a vice, placed my lunch box and bottle of Tizer just out of reach (feet off the ground) and left me there for the break. Breaks were normally taken in a garden shed erected within the garage. I went on Day Release to Tech to learn how to repair stuff but I left the trade as back at the garage I spent more time waiting at the stores for replacement parts as we increasingly rarely repaired anything.
    I worked on several celebrities’ Rolls including Vera Lynn, Gilbert Harding (he had the cocktail drawer in the back of a seat replaced with a manicure set) and Sir Laurence Olivier. Because we were ‘experts’ in triple carb set-ups the Bedfordshire Police brought their very fast Daimler SP250 Darts to us which they needed on the ‘new’ M1 motorway. After servicing I would accompany the mechanic thrashing them on ‘test runs’ up and down Madeira Drive (showing off to and ogling the mini-skirted girls 😉 . They were marked up ‘Police’ so we were never stopped. Great times.

    By Neville Bolding (04/03/2019)
  • Hi

    My Dad Wally Smith worked in Moores in the sixties – I recognise a few of the names mentioned. I used to sit in the drivers seats and press the brakes- flick the indicators etc.

    By Paul Smith (16/01/2021)
  • Further…my Dad used to work on the Massey Ferguson Tractors.

    By Paul Smith (16/01/2021)
  • I always thought that two coppers with their hats on looked far too big to sit in a Daimler Dart especially with the hood down. Also I’ve never come across a Daimler Dart with a ‘triple carb’ set up. I know what you meant to say Nev but it doesn’t read that way! I worked for a short while for a Jaguar agency in 1963 and put the foreman’s nose out of joint when I re-tuned an ‘E’ Type (Which DID have the triple carb set-up!) without using their state of the art Sun Tuning machine. He always had a grudge against me after that! Shame they stopped making those Daimlers, another mistake through ‘rationalsiation’ of models after the Jaguar/Daimler amalgamation. Both the Daimler 2.5 litre and the 4.5 litre V8 as fitted in the then current Majestic were a good engine.

    By Tim Sargeant (17/01/2021)
  • I am Ray Bowley son of Charlie Bowley mentioned in the first article. As well as working on the triumphs and tractors my father was interested in horses as he had started as a groom with his father when he left school. Bill Cannell had a daughter called Mary Anne who used ride her horses in point to point races . Some weekends my father used to use a land rover to take Mary Anne along with my mother and myself to the meetings. Bill also used to turn up and I got to know him quite well, great man!
    When I was around 12/14 I used to visit the garage on a Saturday morning because I was interested in the cars and also get a lift home. One day Bill came in driving his brand new metallic cherry red roller which had been on the farm ,he saw me and asked if I would clean it for him in the wash bay. Instead of driving it in himself he gave me the keys and made me wait until he had got to the garage door. He then waved me in, as I drove in he called my father. I will never forget the look of astonishment on my fathers face whilst Bill was doubled up with laughter .Happy days.

    By Ray Bowley (12/04/2021)
  • [Quote from Tim} …….Also I’ve never come across a Daimler Dart with a ‘triple carb’ set up. I know what you meant to say Nev but it doesn’t read that way![unquote]

    Indeed Tim, the Dart had twin not triple carbs. It was such a long time ago (60 years). In fact in spite of ten years in the trade and the rest of my life out of the trade but restoring old MG’s and British motorbikes I haven’t been able to work on my ‘modern’ cars with with no space around the engine and all the sensors and computerisation. Besides, I don’t have the essential white laboratory coat and electronic diagnostic instruments, just a trained ear and an oily rag!

    By Neville Bolding (31/05/2022)
  • Neville, good of you to come back to this page after all this time. It seems we may well have had similar experiences! I have to get an outside bloke in to look at these computerised modern things. Present problem is a Volvo with no pulse to the injectors which no-one seems able to correct. Conked out on me while on the way for MoT test. Done enough “old MGs” in my time too from J2s to MG Cs. Recently sold an Ariel III which I had put an electric motor in but had loads of other motor bikes in the course of trade over the years. Regards, TCS.

    By Tim Sargeant (01/06/2022)
  • Hi, everyone how about an old man now cheer for, John Bailey,
    saw this on the net thought why not, it was a great company with great people loved every minute, but left due to family circumstances father was a B, I ended up in the army as a mechanic.
    Sue, Reg was my master and what a great one he was he taught me many tricks and shortcuts that I have used all my life and passed on to others so your grandfather lives on with his expertise passed on.
    Talking about John Bampton he and his wife were lovely people and so was his daughter Pauline we dated for a while.
    I recognise all the names just one omission Mr Carter I think all of the apprentices
    lived in fear of him but a great Service Manager.
    I live in Oxfordshire now after travelling and working the world, how about a reunion in Brighton what say you all? email

    By john bailey (12/04/2023)

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