The Central Garage
The Central Garage stood on the site that is the Merton House Hotel car park at the top of New Street.
In 1937, Guy Bennett (known to everyone in Ross as Laddie Bennett) bought the site and built the Central Garage. This was essentially a structure of brick and concrete, that was covered with a huge curved corrugated roof that resembled an aircraft hangar. In the front, on the left of the entrance, was a modern showroom for new cars. On the right were the offices. The workshop covered the rest of the area behind. In the front of was a forecourt with petrol pumps.
No sooner had Laddie got the business underway then war broke out. As a result of this Multicore Solders were involved in essential and secret war work as they produced a special kind of high grade industrial solder. They were looking for premises in Ross and discovered that the garage was the only place in Ross equipped with the industrial grade electricity supply that they required. They therefore requisitioned the showroom, blacked out the floor to ceiling display windows and moved in.
Although the rest of the garage was not affected, Laddie had to move out completely because Multicore Solders was involved in work classified as secret so he became a wartime reserve policeman for the duration.
After the war, the work of Multicore Solders was de-classified and so Laddie was able to re-start his garage business, although he continued to allow Multicore Solders to occupy the showroom and they paid him rent for several years after the war.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Laddie continued to run the garage with the help of Sandy Lane, who was his chief mechanic, Dick Adams, another mechanic, Dick's wife Zeta in the office, and my grandfather's youngest daughter Toni Bennett (who later became Mrs Ted Sainsbury) on the pumps. At this time the garage was a Vauxhall dealership.
The great curved fascia sign (curved to fit under the corrugated roof) read: G R Bennett / Central Garage.
Laddie retired in the 1970s and he left the business in the hands of Sandy Lane. This was because neither of Laddie Bennett's daughters or their children were interested in running a garage business and so when Sandy Lane retired in the mid-1980s Laddie then sold the property.
The premises was sold to Alan Porter sometime before Laddie passed away in 1988. Alan Porter eventually sold it to a tyre company who owned it when it burnt down and it was after this that the Merton House Hotel bought it for use as a car park.
Many thanks to Nigel Edwards for the supply of the details on the garage.
[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:59]