By Paul Draper
Did you know that we in Fairlight used to have a garage and petrol filling station? Located on the west side of the junction between Battery Hill and Waites Lane, the garage had existed from the earliest development of Fairlight Cove, in 1923 until its demolition in 2004. Now there are no clues as to its existence and four new properties stand on the old site, two in Waites Lane and two in Battery Hill.
The garage was a ‘proper’ garage offering repair shops, storage facilities, petrol pumps and local buses were also stored there. Indeed most of these facilities survived until 2000 when the final owners, Pat and Sue Trueman, were forced to sell up. Pat and Sue were popular local characters and are still in contact with many people from our village. They have kindly supplied me with copies of some early black and white and later colour photographs and some paperwork showing how different matters were in the early years. Additionally, a former local researcher, Jeanne Whiting, delved into the timeline of the many different owners and her work has proved invaluable.
An early view outside the repair shop. Note the old Tilling Stevens bus/charabanc.
After the 1917 auction of the Waites Farm Estate there were many owners of the lands now known as Fairlight Cove and finally in 1923, Mr Philp, a familiar name to many of us, sold the plot to the business of D.M.S. Ltd. Clearly they built the garage and started the business but in 1925 they sold on the business to a Mr. Biden. Over the pre-war years the ownership changed many times but from 1927 a Mr W.C. Davis took over and was a familiar name until 1938 when Mr. Archibald Lea took over. Mr. Lea was obviously very much a local character and as well as being the first owner of our Post Office and General Stores, he was also a local Preacher, practicing from a small Chapel in Chapel Lane, Guestling. The latter building is still there but has long been a private dwelling.
Another early view. To think that we complain about our road surfaces!
In 1953 a Mr. Lavender owned the business for a few years. He made one significant contribution to our local history. He gave a small portion of his land for the bus shelter to be built. If you look now you can still see the indentation on the western boundary into which the shelter was fitted and has remained ever since.
In 1958, a Mr. E. Gamet, known as ‘Gam’, took over and eventually passed it to his brother-in-law, Pat Trueman, so they were the last family to operate the facility.
Pat and Sue Trueman the last owners of Fairlight Garage.
We do not have details of when the garage was modernised but in its latter days, under the brand names of Jet and finally Murco, it looked like so many of those small local petrol stations that were so familiar to us all. They have all gone and now we have to use the much larger, faceless filling stations attached to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, BP and others.
A Bullnose Morris being refilled at Fairlight Garage. (Photo Keith Miller)
Sadly it came to an end in 2004 when the bulldozers moved in. Some local residents opposed the proposal for new houses but without success and the result of this was a small, four house development completed by Gem Select.
We have a small collection of photographs, old and new that we would be happy to show you. However, if any of you have any photographs or information, please let us know.
By Paul Draper.