IN PICTURES: Barnstaple’s Taw Garage celebrates 50 years this week

Richard Brend Snr (far right) welcoming David Coleman and his wife Barbara to Taw Garages. Picture: Taw Garages
Richard Brend Snr (far right) welcoming David Coleman and his wife Barbara to Taw Garages. Picture: Taw Garages

Brend family flicks through the family photo album as business marks five decades of trade in the town.

Taw garages Esso petrol station which is now also home to the car dealerships. 4 star petrol was only 44p at the time. Picture: Tony Freeman Taw garages Esso petrol station which is now also home to the car dealerships. 4 star petrol was only 44p at the time. Picture: Tony Freeman

The name may be best associated with hotels in Devon and Cornwall, but before Percy and Florence Brend established their hospitality empire, they built a Ford car showroom in Barnstaple in 1967.

Five decades later and local landmark Taw Garages celebrates its 50th birthday this week.

Mark Brend, the fourth generation of the family to now be running the business, said: “We’ve found some lovely old photos, although I don’t recognise many of the cars.

“I’ve been very happy to take on that mantle and try to make sure that we carry on providing great service. The cars have definitely evolved over the past 50 years and so has the dealership, but our family touch remains and I think that’s why people keep coming back to us.”

Former GB Olympican Iwan Thomas receiving the keys to his sponsored car from Taw Garages. The 400 metre runner often trained in Braunton. Picture: Tony Freeman Former GB Olympican Iwan Thomas receiving the keys to his sponsored car from Taw Garages. The 400 metre runner often trained in Braunton. Picture: Tony Freeman

The family photos also capture forgotten moments of Barnstaple’s history, such as the long gone outdoor swimming pool in Rock Park when Ford sponsored local galas.

The garage was always a favourite of the BBC sports commentator and Question of Sport host David Coleman who would holiday at Saunton Sands.

There’s even an amazing photo of double European cup winner and Liverpool captain Emlyn Hughes on the forecourt of the family-owned petrol station that’s now also home to Taw Garages.

Back in 1967 Ford had just launched its new Escort model which has undergone a redesign and relaunch this year.

The Ford shop was an important part of the dealership in the 1980s but as fashions change in the industry there's no longer an actual shop but merchandise can still be purchased. Picture: Tony Freeman The Ford shop was an important part of the dealership in the 1980s but as fashions change in the industry there's no longer an actual shop but merchandise can still be purchased. Picture: Tony Freeman

Taw Garages moved from the garage at the Park Hotel into purpose-built premises in Victoria Road in 2005, and in 2015, it expanded to include a Citroen dealership at the ‘new site’.

Richard Brend added: “The photos of the original garage show just how much the car business has changed. But the values by which we run the business that my dad Richard passed down to me and his dad did to him haven’t changed.”

How Christmas marketing used to be! Picture: Tony Freeman How Christmas marketing used to be! Picture: Tony Freeman


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