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Passey's Central Garage

In around 1900, Ernest Passey and Son opened a garage that was called the Ryefield Garage (presumably it was somewhere towards Ryefield Road but this is not clear). This was one of Ross' first Motor Garages and references to it continue until around 1938.

Ross had two Motor Car manufacturers at this time both setup in the late 19th Century, called Cassons and Butchers. Cassons were on Henry Street in the shop that is now Wye Electrics Shop and Butchers were on Brookend Street where the Gardner Butcher "Motor House" (garage) is today (as you can guess the 'Butcher' is the same family). Mr. Butcher then needed more room so he built a manufacturing workshop on Cantilupe Road opposite Cassons (the shop is now Ross Hydroponics and Clarke Roxburgh Insurance Brokers.

The competition was great and eventually they joined forces, due to different areas of expertise, to become Butcher & Casson Ltd. They produced a wide range of hand-built motor vehicles, from cars to various vans to small lorries all built to order by a ten man team.

At a similar time, and by 1914, Mr. Passey had joined forces with Mr. Hall and opened the Central Garage on Gloucester Road. This was next to the Post Office (hence a prominent position), which has since become 'The Mailrooms' pub. The Central Garage was a motor engineers and body builders (hence they too were building cars or parts of) and this later it became a motor & cycle engineers.

The name "Central" was very important back then as there was the Central Bakery, the Central Cycle Works, Central Drapers and Central Chemists as a few examples and so was held in great esteem.

In 1937 Laddie built the garage in Edde Cross Street on the site of what looks like two sheds or houses on old maps.

Laddie Bennett
1937 OS map of the garage site
Reproduced from the 1937 Ordnance Survey map. Crown copyright.

Laddie Bennett
1952 OS map of the garage site
Reproduced from the 1952 Ordnance Survey map. Crown copyright.

It must be remembered that Edde Cross Street had the Valley and the Swan Hotels, both of which were very large Hotels, and the Merton House Hotel opposite. Hence the garage being near there was a prime location to pick up trade from any of them.

Passey and Hall must have let Laddie have the Central Garage name, or maybe sold him the name with its existing prestige, so that he could build on it and run his own successful Garage. Passey's continued to trade in Gloucester Road, however they were no longer doing mechanical work and they were only selling fuel. Apparently, Mr. Passey was winding down operations because his son, Tom, was not interested in the business. Tom Passey went into local government as a council official and also a Justice of the Peace (as in a Magistrate).

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Many thanks to Nigel Edwards for the supply of the details on the garage.

[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:59]

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