Family that took over run down garage celebrates 50 years
- Credit: Parkside Cars
A Norfolk garage celebrates half a century in business after a couple risked it all to open it up.
John and Lynda Collins opened Parkside Garage in Thursford back in April 1971 after buying the rundown filling station on Fakenham Road.
With the help of their family and all their savings, they worked seven days a week to get established and build a reputation for expertise in car mechanics and offering premium fuel.
“It’s a lifetime of endeavour, my wife still treats it as her second home as she worked through it with me,” Mr Collins said.
“It has been a journey, a true labour of love, but we enjoyed getting up, meeting new customers and making friends.”
Mr Collins, who is now 81, started in the industry after following in the steps of his father, who ran Collins and Simpsons. John would watch him in the workshop from a young age and eventually started working there.
When his dad decided to retire, Mr Collins was not thinking about taking over the business, so he stayed on there as service manager until the chance came along to buy somewhere himself. That is when the garage in Thursford became available.
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He soon developed a good name in the area for his skills in vehicle maintenance and MOT testing, landing a contract to service the post office vehicles. The family connection still continues today, with his son, Andrew working at the garage, as well as his grandson Sam.
John is up to date with his MoT qualifications and is one of the oldest testers in the region, carrying out thousands of tests throughout his career.
Throughout his time he has survived a number of challenges, including fuel rations. He also took on the supermarkets in fuel price, offering it at a discounted rate.
“It's all been worth it, it gets in your blood. A lot of people go to work, switch on at nine, and switch off at five - we were 24/7."
He puts down the success of his business to his customers, and the couple thanked all of them for their support.
“It's no good if you haven't got the customers, and the only way is to satisfy them so they come back and tell their neighbours."