The best time of my life

Vintage petrol pumps | From the private collection of J. Drury
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)

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