Large Garage of the Year: Weldbank Garage

Dunkirk veteran Tommy Waring started Weldbank Garage in 1956. The business was founded in a big tin shed on the outskirts of Chorley, Lancashire and focussed on keeping the town’s parc of pre and post-war vehicles up and running.

The early years were a struggle. Tommy had a small business to run and a large family to feed. However, in 1970, eldest son Jack left his job as Service Manager in a local franchised dealership in order to join the family garage. Brothers Joe, David and Tony joined over the following years and turned the business from the one-man outfit it was at the start of the decade into Chorley’s biggest independent by the end.

During this period of expansion, adjacent buildings and land were bought and redeveloped to create a huge garage with thirteen lanes.

Of course a large workshop is no guarantee of success, but the garage provided a high level of service and proved itself to be a speedy and reliable facility for the people of Chorley. However, it was the then new and mysterious technology of fuel injection that gave the garage its USP. Youngest son Tony attended a number of training courses with Bosch in London to get to grips with the injectors. In a short space of time the garage was taking on work from other garages that couldn’t get to grips with the new tech.

This led to Weldbank become a member of the approved Bosch Service Agents network – which in the 1980s could justifiably claim to be Europe’s most prestigious and comprehensive independent garage scheme. When the German company evolved the scheme into Bosch Car Service in 2005 Weldbank was in the first wave of firms to join.

Another string to Weldbank’s bow is its ability to provide light body repairs. The advent of water based paint means that it’s now much easier for workshops to offer this service – and this area of the business is looked after by Tommy’s grandson Martyn.

Speaking about the award, Tony Waring said: “It means a lot to us, it really does. We’ve got a lot on, because of our 60 year anniversary which we have coming up. My dad, [founder Tommy Waring] would have been massively proud.

According to Waring, the biggest change in recent years has been the way in which motorists diagnose their own vehicles – or think that they do. “It’s got to the point where the customer can buy a cheap scanner and come in and tell us what’s wrong with the vehicle – or at least what he thinks is wrong, based on the codes he’s found,” he chuckles.

Plans for the future include offering a number of mobile services so people don’t need to leave their cars at the garage. This will include air-con work and fuel system cleaning. “We’re always looking for holes to fill and provide something different,” says Waring.

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