The Art of the garage. From the BBC.
Time nor tide waiteth for no man, so the saying goes. One example of this being the BBC. Initiated in 1922 with only a handful of board members, one being First World War pilot Cecil Lewis whose book Sagittarius Rising is an exemplary account of the war in the air. As readable as it is terrifying, it’s a (then) young mans story told amidst horrendous circumstances. I digress.
Once upon a time the BBC was referred to as Auntie Beeb, for the corporation inspired warmth with the added sense of being impartial yet caring. And gave us Morecombe & Wise. But time and the internet has had huge implications on the Beeb’s persona and some of that friendliness has been lost. Trying not to drown in recent political, environmental and medical travails however, my eyes spied something of relevance: Garages.
The BBC website hosts a weekly themed photographic gallery – usually an excuse to brag about expensive holidays but for the mid-December episode, these dwellings offered me shelter of a different kind. Like people, garages can be oddities; pristine or neglected, stuffed to the gunwhales or akin to shrine. And the following seven pictures (some pre-arranged but mostly natural) offer that friendly glimpse into them.
This old coach garage and workshop in Builth Wells, Powys, Wales (main photo) cuts a rather forlorn figure. No doubt once the town’s hub for public transport, it is now neglected, abandoned and probably an environmental nightmare. Who owns these old and rusty vehicles? Will anyone rescue and refurbish them? Or are the inevitable planners lying in wait to develop housing, bricking over any memories of the place (good or bad)? There’s a sadly enigmatic charm to this picture though.
This next picture is a recreation, but carried out with taste and plenty of planning. The detritus accumulated by the motor trade of old is pleasingly comforting. Forgetting the recreation part, you could be transported back to 1932 and smell the oil in the air here, the clanging of tools on the hard flooring, the mechanics profanities, the out of shot customer wondering “how long this bloody job will take, never mind cost?” And the cold; summer days in a garage can perish the human (and motor) spirit. So in winter? No thanks.
Picture three reveals this poor soul not having even made it into the garage – the building itself in a sorry state. Hardly surprising given the conditions and location: Chernobyl. Was this Lada vandalised after the disaster or before, hastily stripped for parts? Either way, it’s doubtful this car will find its way to restoration anytime soon. Nor the garage surviving many more nuclear winters.
An artful garage door now. Pink Floyd may not be to everyone’s taste. I find them more morose than relaxing to listen to, thus my collection has nothing by them. To the contents behind the door then: is there a rarely seen Ferrari 250 GTO, a lá Nick Mason, hence the fan connection? Forgotten about for decades, squeezed in with nary a gnat’s semi-breve between door and wall. Or just chock full of clutter?
Now Sheffield has its steep hills but no amount of cajoling would have me manoeuvring in nor out of any of these San Francisco garages. Spare a moment for the poor clutch, pray the handbrake retains tension. Those cables outside suggest the route is serviced by either tram or trolley bus. Far better therefore to gird one’s loins and use public transport – leave the garage to accrue detritus.
The final two pictures are my personal favourites – but for probably the wrong reasons in the grand scheme of things. But revel in that patina and the beauty of decay. These are such beautiful scenes.
The Shropshire town of Much Wenlock is in many ways the perfect location for Birchfield Garage; an ancient town with architectural delights, history, surrounding bucolic areas and this dilapidated garage. It fits the bill with archetypal aplomb. My suspicions are that it dealt with the original form of horsepower before the motor car came along; The clanking hammer and heated air of the farrier. Plenty of manure too.
Then came Austin and co: those pale blue doors will have seen every iteration of Austin, Cortina and even some of them foreign cars. Did a young village lad aspire to serving petrol on the forecourt? Can you still hear the tooth sucking mechanic extolling the virtues of having it all replaced at a cost to make your eyes water? Was there a young lass in the office who quickly disposed of her blushes at the typical mechanics verbal diarrhoea? The photographer says she’s driven past here hundreds of times and wishes it to remain so. I stand beside her.
A similar story occurs in Llanrug, a Snowdonian outpost in Wales. This garage has more character than certainly any new build and most old buildings put together. If it were French, it would be wearing a beret, smoking a Gauloise and shrugging over a dead Citroën. But this garage is Welsh and has the location and backdrop to die for.
The legendary wriggly tin construction method and for added points, enamel signs and stacks of old tyres. Garage nirvana. Not for one moment would I consider having any work done here – but for the visible drama, the untold stories and sheer beauty of these car houses, long may they remain.
Three bob o’ two star and a new alternator, Iestyn? Comin’ right up…
The link to the full article is here