The history of Beaulieu Garage dates back to 1918 when Harry Wells who lived at No. 4 Northern Cottages started a cycle repair business from his home. Harry went on to expand his business by running a taxi service which was stored on the site known today as Beaulieu Garage.
Circa 1920 saw Harry join forces with brothers Alec and Cecil Marvin who had returned from service in the Royal Flying Corp. A repair garage was built alongside the main building to provide storage for the taxi but was later extended to provide a workshop area. Alec purchased a hut from the RAF which was relocated to the High Street (now the Chocolate Shop) from which bicycles built from kits were sold under the name of Elswick. This continued until Harry retired in 1946.
Starting with nothing more than a petrol store and two work bays, the business started to grow and later offered the servicing of cars, lorries and tractors. The taxi service continued and soon began to offer a carrier service for parcels and other goods between Beaulieu and Southampton. The carrier service was operated by Cecil Marvin who used a Trojan van to collect meat from the local butcher, Sarah Hayward of Mowats of Southampton, as well as collect made up fish baskets from the Dolphin Hotel in Southampton. The Dolphin Hotel acted as a depot for goods and parcels to be delivered between Southampton and Beaulieu, travelling via Longdown. On the return journey’s, ice would be packed in wood shavings.
A bus service was started using a Ford Charabanc, better known as “Beefeater” because of the red stripe around it. In 1924, a new REO which could seat 14 people was introduced to the fleet. The Beefeater was later replaced by first a Commer, Dodge and then a Dennis coach.
In 1926, a Dutch barn measuring 50ft X 20ft, with 10ft high doors, was erected by way of extending the garage facilities and provide a home for the coaches. By 1936, a bus service was running three daily services to Southampton and four weekly services to Lymington. The route would alternate between Buckler’s Hard and East Boldre. In 1943, a new Bedford 26 seater was seconded by the Ministry of Transport for use as a RAF crew bus.
Three petrol pumps were installed in the 1930’s.
There was increased growth in the number of privately owned cars over the next thirty years which led the bus service to become less and less viable. In 1969, the bus service was sold and the routes were drastically cut back.
In 1952, Lord Montagu began making provisions for his motor museum by moving three cars into the downstairs of Palace House. Beaulieu Garage helped Lord Montagu to move these cars. 1953 and the workshop was extended and an accessories window was installed.
The garage had a major face-lift in 1963 where part of the old stone abbey wall was removed and a new front and rear office, accessory shop and petrol pump kiosk were all introduced. Space was also made to sell cars.
14 years after their installation, the petrol pumps were removed from the front of the old stone wall to an island on the forecourt. The late Louis Giron, a one-time Bugatti racing driver, appeared on the scene in 1967 as a consultant to the garage to take on the restoration of vehicles from Lord Montagu’s collection.
The Beaulieu Development Plan of 1973 resulted in an eighteen month building programme at the garage. This resulted in the building you see today offering all of the services of the garage under one roof.
The 21-strong workshop team were under supervisor Geoff Kingham’s instruction and coped with all makes of vehicle. Veteran and vintage restoration work was overseen by Pete Cousins who has continued to provide his mechanical services to the garage. During this time, the garage was responsible for many movements of the Motor Museums vehicles, both for private and commercial use. The most memorable for the garage was the movement of blockbuster “The Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” for which many staff and support vehicles were used. Each year, up to five cars from the Museum’s collection would participate in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
For 10 years, David Baylis occupied the car showroom selling Suzuki’s alongside vintage and classic cars with a workshop and fully functioning petrol station.
1994 – 1997 Philip Scott trading as Beaulieu Garage ltd, acquired the front showroom area and began to sell Vintage and Classic cars. The workshop at the rear of the premises was run by Wayne Loveland of Polygon Transport and David Baylis continued to run the petrol station, trading as Beaulieu Cars Ltd.
1997 – 2016 Philip Scott of Beaulieu Garage Ltd joined forces with Lymington based classic car dealer, Rory Stokes. The new partnership later purchased the lease from David Baylis and began to concentrate on the sales of vintage and classic cars in the front and rear showrooms. The petrol station was wound down and mothballed in 2000.
In September 2016, local Series 1 E-type restorers, New Forest Classic Cars acquired Beaulieu Garage Ltd. Originating from a passion for classic cars, NFCC are now the UK’s leading Series 1 E-type restoration specialists, renowned for their period knowledge and high attention to detail.
Moving their full in-house restoration facility the short distance from Lymington, NFCC have developed the Beaulieu site to accommodate their restoration workshops. The newly refurbished workshop has been fitted with 3 twin-post lifts, a paint spray booth and on-site stores department. The showroom has been divided between the two businesses and now displays a number of stunning examples of restored E-types alongside the British classic sports cars of Beaulieu Garage.