Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet


Colchester Road Garage ( Opposite the Eight Bells Public House)

Brief History of the Garage

Local history suggests that the motor vehicle garage currently on the site was constructed in the early 1960's.
It first appears, on the 1956-1961 Ordnance Survey map: as a rectangular building oriented across the width of the site with the current petrol station forecourt canopy erected by this date.
The building was set deeper into the site than the adjacent buildings - presumably to allow petrol pumps to be installed on the forecourt so that vehicles could refuel clear of the highway.

The 1961-1991 Ordnance Survey map shows the building as it exists today - with a part-single, part two-storey rear extension having been added to form an enlarged vehicle repair workshop and a first floor flat.

The single-storey, flat roofed former hairdressers shop situated on the southwest (front) corner of the application site was constructed in the 1960's as a waiting room to the doctor's surgery then operating in the adjacent River House.
This building is not visible on the 1956-1961 Ordnance Survey map but appears on the 1961-1991 version.


The garage we see today next door to River House, was originally located adjacent to the Eight Bells Public House opposite in Colchester Road. >>>>>>>

1907/10 George Cousins

1917 Local Directory lists:- E. G. Cousins. Motor vehicles for hire
Dick Cousins who also operated a taxi business, delivery of coal and a transport business.

This operated opposite River House.

Commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the. Reign of H. M. King George V and Queen Mary On Monday, May 6th 1935

Shell petrol pumps now appear by the roadside.

During 1939, this building was burnt down and repairs continued in the workshops at the rear of the pub.

Press Cutting:-
22nd December 1939
Fire at Bures Hamlet, Early on Friday morning a fire broke out at the premises of Mr E G Cousins, motor garage proprietor and licensee of the Eight Bells Hotel, Bures Hamlet.

At this time George Boulton owned the pub and garage

New pump bay constructed selling "Regent" petrol
Left pump:- Regent Regular
Middle pump:- National Benzine
Right pump :- Super

Staff included:-
Bill Moody (Mechanic who also maintained the village fire pump)
Trevor Riches
Neville Fox
Arthur Kemp

The pump bay was regularly used by residents sheltering from the weather whilst waiting for a Chambers bus.

The garage beside the Eight Bells closed down possibly during 1959/60, as Arthur Hartridge
was the recorded owner during that year


Garage Constructed opposite the Eight Bells and adjacent to River House

Recorded owners of the land :-

1850 - Joseph Hayward

1856 - Joseph Hayward, Blacksmith/Wheelwright

1859 - The Gas Works constructed

The 1876 map opposite show the circular Gas Holder between the Blacksmiths Shop (green) and River House (Blue) >>>

1893 - Charles Alleston ( see River House)

1908 George Pettit
(Charles Alleston wife was nee Pettit)

1920 George Kendall sold Blacksmiths to Charles Deaves
(Charles b1857 d1935)

1928 John and Nancy Goss take over the running of the Coke and Gas from Grimwood

1936 Barrie Deaves inherited Blacksmiths with the three blacksmiths cottages

1939 Barr Deaves takes over the liquidation of the Gas and Coke Company

1940 Gas Works demolished

1959 Barry Deaves sold land to Dr J Wallace

1959 - 1966 Archie Hartridge owner of the Eight Bells
Possibly during 1958/9 the Garage opposite adjacent to the Eight Bells moved across to this site.
It was operated by George Boulton

Local builders who worked for Barry Deaves (opposite) constructed the site,
which included David Vango, George Springett and Peter Norris in addition to the mechanics working in the garage opposite
According to David Vango the Garage was constructed of surplus materials from the building yard opposite
Mixture of bricks, window frames, doors etc
The foundations were just rubble and pieces of broken concrete for the wooden joists to sit-on

The new garage possibly started trading around 1960/1 after building works had been completed

Mechanics included:
Terry Weavers
Trevor Riches
Ernie Ford
Colin Ambrose


Circa 1960 -1965
Three Rolls Royce`s in for repair

Photograph courtesy of George Warden

1966 - Douglas and Janet Shepherd from Arthur Hartridge
1st Floor extension added
Later t
hey purchased the Doctors Surgery and the associated strip of land to the left of River House
Colin Ambrose employed as Mechanic

Flooding,early 1970`s >>>>>

It wasn`t always the River Stour that overflowed,

In the 1970`s the brook in Water Lane would overflow from rain storms,
with water running down Station Hill to the Essex Knoll.
This would bring the road traffic to a halt.

Flooding was a common occurrence until the 70/80s


Extract from WI History of Bures 1951
The river, which was the lifeblood of the village, could be a source of great hardship in wet winters. There have been some terrible floods.
The mother of one member, who lived on the low part of the Colchester Road, used to make sure of having in a stock of bread, and then made tea, and the daughter had a boat in the street.
With the aid of a man named Lester, and the use of a pitchfork she maneuvered the boat so that he could hand-the tea in cans and the bread to the people who were obliged to be upstairs until the flood went down from their lower rooms.

One house in particular was very dangerous to get at, owing to being so close to the river and the swiftness of the current.
A clothes line was tied to the handles of the cottage doors, so that those in the boat could pull themselves hack in case of emergency.


Flooding on Thursday 19th Sept 1968 >>



1971 -Mr Billota of Tottenham
Peter Barnard was his Manager and lived in the flat above the workshop



1972-Peter Barnard





My father, Peter Barnard, initially became the manager of the garage during 1971/2. During my teenage years, I took these photos, with the last captured from our back garden. I have loving memories of my time in the village.
At that time, the garage was owned by an American man named Mr. Billotta. In the early days, the garage also served as a boutique, offering a selection of clothes, toys, and general goods. However, things changed, and my dad was presented with the opportunity to purchase the business in 1972 and run the business for approximately ten years.
Eventually, my dad sold the business in 1982 to The Agricultural Spraying Company, and shortly after, it was sold again to Colin Ambrose, who had been my dad's head mechanic.
Throughout all these transitions, my dad continued to reside in the flat above the garage. I split my time between living with him there and staying with my mum in Boxted.
Around 1982, we moved to Leeds after leaving Bures. However, after my dad's passing in 2002, my brother and I decided that he should rest where he was happiest.
He now rests peacefully at the cemetery up Cuckoo Hill.

Text by Noelle Langdon, daughter of Peter Barnard.
dated 09/01/24

1982 Agricultural Spraying Company based at Bakers Hall


In 1983, Colin Ambrose and his wife Pam took over the ownership, servicing motor vehicles as well as selling fuel and groceries.

Circa mid 2005, trading as "C Ambrose Motors"


During Dec 2006, Colin decided it was time to part company with the property and find smaller premises.
This also resulted in the "His and Hers Hairstylist" which was located in a small white office to the right ( see photos below) having to relocate.

Colin relocated his business to a unit at Fysh House Farm and the Hairdresser became mobile.

The Garage closed down as the new owner wanted the land for Development

UPDATE March 06 - with it now sold, informal discussions have taken place with the Parish Council about turning this property into a retail outlet.
A Co-operative store gained a lot of local support.



Circa 2006
Circa 2007:- site still as the earlier photograph taken January 2006.


Summer 2011, the site is still vacant and for a few months during summer and autumn a Car Wash appeared operated by a group of Eastern Europeans.
Closed down Oct 2011, then a few months later it re-appeared again ?

Mid Summer 2014, Car wash closed down


Mid 2014, I contacted the Co-operative to see if they were interested in building
a store on this site ?
Although they viewed the area, no response was forthcoming

Braintree District Council were very sceptical of a Convenience Store,
because of the traffic congestion and possible parking problems
There was also the problem of Fuel Tanks installed under the forecourt



January 2015 :- Property still unoccupied

The building to the right (His and Hers Hairdressers) was now saturated with damp, to the extent it was now permeating into the party wall with River House
The site owner was totally disinterested

April 2015:- Site now cleared of debris

June 2019:- Site now For Sale
Vacated since 2006

With Planning Permission to build residential properties


This vacant site has now stood empty for thirteen years with various interested parties looking at the site ?
Allegedly planning problems would appear to be:-
(a) High concentration of chemicals such as arsenic in the ground, as a result of the Gas Works
(b) Allegedly, fuel tanks still buried under forecourt which would have to be removed
(c) Retail outlets such as a small supermarket has lack of off road parking

(d) risk of flooding from the river at the rear.

Garage demolished June 2023, ready for development

Biography of Bill Moody, kindly donated by Sue Young, her Grandparents. Bill was a mechanic at the original garage next door to the Eight Bells

The BBC 'Down your way' radio programme came to Bures during the war? I have a letter to my grandfather Bill Moody, for a small payment for his interview as part of the programme.
On a visit to my uncle Geoff Moody recently he told me that his mother trained to drive the village ambulance, which was a converted chambers bus.
My grandmother , Dorothy Moody( in the village ladies cricket team photo) and the WVS ran a soup kitchen at night throughout the war for air raid wardens, the home guard etc. grandad kept the village fire engine going, he was the local agricultural engineer.
At end of the war the village gave my grandparents a silver biscuit barrel engraved with a message of thanks for all they did to support the village.

Ownershop of Garage Land taken from the Deeds of River House
The deeds were written using legal terminogy which I found difficult to comprehend
This list is the best I could decipher:

Also thanks to Val and Geoff Moody ( Bills son) for their valuable contribution to this page.
Thanks to George Warden for local information

Updated 13/01/2015

Thanks to Derek Matthew for the loan of his documents
Updated 24/02/2015

Thanks to Douglas and Janet Shepherd in Australia for their information
Updated 30/03/2015

Brief History of site added 13/07/18
updated with For Sale 23/06/2019
Updated demolision 6/23

Noelle Langdon text about her father Ron Barnard 09/01/24