Christmas and Chorlton's Garage

From the Cart to the Car

By Kate Pugh and Neil Fortey

Christmas and Chorlton's Garage. High Street, 1920 - 1930?
Sid Chorlton, Marcia Christmas, Bill Christmas
Signs at Christmas & Chorlton's garage, High St, 1928
By permission of Miss Angela Marsh
What make of car was this and who was the Third Man behind the door?
Detail of picture 1. Cart approaching Claremont House. Can anyone identify the people in this picture?
A contemporary view of High Street from Woodhouse and Carman's garage.
Woodhouse and Carman's occupies the Christmas and Chorlton site today.

The photographer has obviously arranged this photograph to contrast different modes of transport. On the extreme left is a pedestrian, a smart lady in a cloche hat (can anyone identify her?), next the cart with its driver and a passenger posing by the wheel (Who were they? What kind of cart was it?). On the right, modernity, two men standing proudly by the car.

We are grateful to Mr. Gary Christmas, of Melton Mowbray and his cousin, Mr. Christopher Harris of Salem, Oregon, for identifying the members of their family in the photograph. (See their comments below.) Mr. Harris tells us that the little girl in the car is his mother, Marcia Christmas. On the right is his grandfather, Bill Christmas. On the left is Sid Chorlton. Mr Woodhouse, proprietor of the present day garage on this site (Woodhouse and Carman), told us Mr.Christmas habitually smoked a pipe. We would very much like to know more about the garage, the cars of this time and their owners.

Mr Woodhouse also pointed out that the garden wall seen on the left of the picture is still there, but it is higher in this picture because the level of the unmetalled street, without pavements, was lower than today. The gable end of the stable block is also higher than today, for the same reason. Claremont House, the large house behind the stables, has two sets of octagonal neo-tudor chimneys, which have since been replaced by plain rectangular chimneys, perhaps when the old ones became unstable. There was no street lighting when the old picture was taken. We have included a modern picture taken from the same positon for comparison.

Christmas and Chorlton’s garage, selling B.P. Motor Spirit 1s 3d a gallon, is listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1928 and the picture would seem to date from around this time. In addition to the petrol pumps, advertisements and telegraph poles, which have all gone, it shows the garage buildings and bicycle shop where the open forecourt is today.

If anyone can add any memories, information or photographs  about the garage, please get in touch. Can anyone recognise the make of the car?

This page was added on 26/05/2007.

Comments about this page

  • I was looking at your pictures with interest, because my
    grandfather William Christmas used to run the garage,
    with his son Mike Christmas, who lives in the bungalow
    behind the garage today. I am sure we will be able to name
    the 2 men in the photo and provide information on the
    garage. Regards Gary Christmas (Melton Mowbray)

    By Mr. Gary Christmas (06/11/2007)
  • From the photograph of Christmas and Chorlton’s Garage – (I think 1928 is about the right year) – the man with his foot on the streetside footboard of the car is indeed Sid Chorlton. The man on the pavement with his foot on the footboard of the car is Bill Christmas (not Dan Christmas, and not peering from behind the garage door!) The girl in the car is Marcia Christmas, the daughter of Bill Christmas, and my mother. My cousin, Gary Christmas, is correct, that Mike Christmas, who joined his father working in the garage sometime in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s, still lives on the property in a bungalow behind the remodelled garage.
    Chris Harris (Salem, Oregon, USA)

    By Christopher Harris (06/01/2008)
  • Great to hear from you in Salem, Oregon. Thank you very much for identifying your mother and grandfather and Sid Chorlton. Please check to make sure we’ve got the details right. If you can think of anything more about the garage or anything else about Bottesford, we’d love to hear from you again. Happy New Year!

    By Kate Pugh (07/01/2008)
  • Hi Christopher! I still live on the Square with my brother Robert. I have recently retired from nursing. My sisters still live locally with their families.I have an old photo of bonfire night in the 1950s which might rekindle old memories.

    By Susan Dunsmore (12/01/2008)
  • Hi Kate!
    It was lovely to see pictures of where you now live such a contrast from North London. The work man’s cottage where I live doesn’t have quite such an idyllic back drop but I’m sure if I dig deep they’ll be an interesting history. Hope all is well. Belated Happy New Year!
    By Christine Somerville (WHLS)

    By Christine Somerville (22/02/2008)
  • Happy New Year, Christine. Message on message board.

    By Kate Pugh (23/02/2008)
  • Great view of a long gone bye scene! I think the car is a solid wheeled Trojan.

    By John Tyers (27/02/2008)
  • Thank you for this suggestion. The Trojan would certainly be the right date. By Googling ‘Trojan Utility Car’ we came up with http://www.britishman.co.uk?history.asp?id=896 , which gives a brief history and some good pictures of the old car. These support John Tyler’s identification, and slight changes in the bodywork support a date nearer 1927 than earlier. The website tells us that the Trojan Utility cost £157 in 1924, and was advertised as, ‘The Car for the Man who Can’t Afford a Car,’ perhaps not the greatest advertising slogan. Another slogan was “Can You Afford to Walk!”. It had solid tyres on non-removable wheels, though an alternative ‘up market’ version with pneumatic tyres and removable wheels was offered from 1924. But don’t laugh – the car was simple and reliable, and it is reported that some reached 100,000 miles with little more than periodic de-coking, according to http://www.coys.co.uk/auctions , which site also tells us that the car was powered by a two-stroke engine under the driver’s seat, so that the impressive bonnet was almost empty inside. Coys were auctioning one for an estimated price of £2,000 – £4,000 in 2004. Apparently, the designer also produced camp beds (did they have any springs, one wonders).

    By Editor (28/02/2008)
  • Growing up in bottesford in the 70’s I can remember the garage selling esso fuel (bum bum esso blue paraffin) and Billy Christmas giving me a esso oil man key ring.

    By Rodney Broad (16/07/2011)
  • My dad used to have an account at Billy Christmas’ Garage. He’d fill up regularly and get repairs done there for years . I remember getting my new ‘Trent Tourist’ bike from there! Here’s a tale Billy used to tell, can’t say if its true and I won’t name the village copper. I thought it would go well in verse. Ian Abbott. ‘A little old man was Billy Christmas, in tweed jacket and blue boiler suit Silver white hair that once had been fair, down below was his shiny black boots. The garage was lived in and dingy, with a floor of trodden down grime. It didn’t seem strange, no need to change. That’s how garages were at the time. He’d fixed cars for years in the village, back to Bull Noses and model T Ford. He would make, fix or fit all manner of kit and any spare parts he would hoard. Behind the green sliding doors was his empire, his work, his life, his domain. He could mend and invoice your broken Rolls Royce or the link in a bicycle chain. CASTROL, CHAMPION and LUCAS advertised like artists displayed. They were dull and grimy, if not a little slimy and the colours were starting to fade In front of the green doors were his petrol pumps, supplying fuel to all near and far. Their ESSO heads in blue, white and red supplied everyone’s tractor or car. An old hand pump was ignored and neglected it stood at the side quite redundant. No one would choose it, or want to use it now that electric pumps were so abundant. Now the village Bobby would visit the garage, he never had much crime to fight He’d sit and drink tea. (Perhaps its just me, but).. he seemed to be there day and night. Power-cuts those days were quite common, when everyone’s lights went caput. Billy would not shirk ‘cos pumps would not work no way could his garage shut. A car pulled up at the garage he shouts, ‘Ten gallons Bill if you please!’ Billy looked at the car and the hand pumps long bar then started to roll up his sleeves. He didn’t proceed to start pumping; he looked at the lounging long arm of the law Plod was sitting up straight with his feet on a crate just behind the green sliding door. ‘Are you a fit PC?’ Said Billy, ‘ our last bobby looked fitter than you, There was a quid in it if he’d pump a gallon minute, I bet that’s more than you could do!’ Now Plod was up to the challenge, his standing and manhood at stake. He rolled up his sleeves and started to heave, soon he knew he had made a mistake. He pumped up and down on the lever, his face pale, then pink, then bright red If he pumped any more he’d be down on the floor, or even worse he’d be dead. But he couldn’t fail this public challenge, keep pumping make sure there’s no spillage. He just couldn’t loose face it’d be a disgrace, the laughing stock all round the village. The pumping got harder and harder, and slower he’d push and he’d pull. The dial slowly went round, until came the sound to say that the car’s tank was full PC Plod collapsed in the corner, exhausted and red, what a sight. He made moaning sounds like he’d done fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali in a fight. Billy then turned to the policeman. Said, ‘ twenty minutes, now that really is a crime.’ He stuffed the pound note, inside his coat , he knew that he’d win all the time. But Billy was honest and gracious, ‘I can’t take your money ‘ said he. ‘After all,’ with a smile ‘ it took you a while and you pumped all that petrol for free!’

    By Ian Abbott (09/04/2012)
  • Ian, Thanks a million for this fantastic ‘comment’. If we had a medal for the most enjoyable comment we have received then you would surely be the winner by a mile. Would you mind if we reproduced it as a page in its own right? Neil

    By Neil Fortey (10/04/2012)
  • I used to carry my Granny’s glass cased, lead acid radio battery (accumulator as she called it) down to Mr Christmas for recharging. That was some lump to manhandle all the way from Bunkers Hill to the West End and I used to dread being roped in to collect it again, hoping against hope that someone else in the family would be called upon.

    By David Ball (11/04/2012)

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