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‘New cars are a headache,’ says retiring Bedford mechanic, 80


Alan and David Filby

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Alan Filby has four sons but only his son David took an interest in mechanics and wanted to take over the Castle Lane business

An 80-year-old mechanic who is retiring after working at the same garage for 63 years said it was “really getting difficult for old ones like me”.

Alan Filby started working at Castle Hill Garage in Bedford in 1956 and later took it over from his father.

He said when he started working he dealt with “basic and simple” 1930s cars that required “a greasy spanner”.

“But the modern electronics on the new cars are headaches, you’ve got to have so much special equipment,” he said.

“As time’s gone on they’ve introduced more gadgets and electronics. It’s forever on the change and with today’s electric cars it’s really getting difficult for old ones like me.”

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Castle Hill Garage

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Castle Hill Garage in Bedford as it looked in 1962, when Mr Filby had been working there for six years

Mr Filby started working at the garage when he left school, alongside his father, Albert Edward Filby, who started the business in 1932.

His brothers, Michael, Roy and Harry, gradually left the garage and, by 1992, the garage was under his full control.

He decided to retire to go on more holidays and play golf but said he would still visit to help when needed.

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Alan Filby says he will still work on classic cars such as his DG, a 1930 8 HP Morris Minor, which he bought in 1957

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Alan Filby

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When Roy, David and Alan Filby (left to right) dug up a floor to put a new lift in, they found an old bed frame used to reinforce the floor

His son David, 48, is taking over the business and said it would be a big challenge. He worked in the garage from 1991 to 2003, but left to teach vehicle mechanics at Barnfield College in Luton.

“I am a bit nervous as it’s going to be very different to what I have done for the last 15 years. If I can carry on for the rest of this generation it will be fantastic,” he said.

Alan Filby said he had never wished to do any other job.

“I’ve loved it, loved every minute of it,” he said. “I don’t think I will ever get used to not coming up here.”

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Alan Filby

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The garage celebrated 60 years of trading in 1992

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