Engineering firm to close after 70 years in same village
- Credit: Archant
An engine repair business has entered its final days after 70 years in the same village.
LA Whitmore and Co, based in Briston, near Fakenham, will soon shut down for good as no buyer was found over the past two years it was on the market.
John Eggleton, its owner, said the business had changed a lot since he and his father Brian took it over almost 40 years ago.
Mr Eggleton, 63, said: “We used to do complete engine rebuilds in the days of the Cortinas and Escorts - there were several a week. But now we just do specialist things that no-one else will do. Most of the others in our trade have packed up.”
Mr Eggleton’s small staff of five are all in their 60s, and he said now was the right time for a change.
He said: “We might as well pack up before we all die on the job.
“I’ll enjoy having a bit of free time to myself. I like to go sailing, and I was daft enough to get a yacht a few years ago.”
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Mr Eggleton said it was far less common to do complete engine rebuilds or repairs these days than in past decades because of the way vehicles were built.
He said: “They’re more throwaway now.
“If you buy one of the new Minis and have a head gasket go on them, you’ve got a £2,000 bill. Years ago that would have been £500 at most.
“So now they throw away the car and get a new one. It’s getting that way even with lorries and tractors, which is pretty grim for the environment to say the least.
“Years ago you could see cars on the road which were 10, 20 years old but you don’t see many now.”
Mr Eggleton said he was also sceptical about the way things were headed, and said electric cars such as Teslas were perhaps not as good for the environment as they seemed.
The shop has the machinery for jobs such as alloy welding proshaft repairs and engine balancing.
Mr Eggleton said they had been able to continue working in a socially distanced way throughout the lockdown as most of their clients were garages which needed specialist jobs done, and they did not have much direct contact with members of the public.
The business was founded in 1950 by Leonard Whitmore, who ran it for about 20 years before Peter Francis took over, who sold it to the Eggletons in 1983.