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Manuden mechanics D Bonney & Sons celebrating 45th anniversary

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A family business started by a born-and-bred Bishop's Stortford mechanic is celebrating its 45th anniversary.

D Bonney & Sons garage in Manuden, which opened on November 1, 1974, is still going strong today with the third generation now playing a key role in its continued success.

Aged 14, Dennis Bonney began a seven-year apprenticeship at John Whalley's Garage in Stortford before being called up for national service.

Dennis and Doris Bonney (21189178)
Dennis and Doris Bonney (21189178)

Having spent two years in the Royal Artillery battery workshop at Kinmel Park in north Wales – during which time he became a stunt rider in the White Helmets display team – he returned to John Whalley's as workshop manager and his wife Doris became store manager at the firm's Spellbrook branch.

But it was always the couple's dream to run their own garage and, after many sleepless nights and family discussions, they decided to take a chance and buy a tumbledown workshop in Manuden owned by Fred Bishop.

With worries they would not be accepted into the village community due to being outsiders quickly dispelled, the garage went from strength to strength as farmers and the locals, with or without cars, took the Bonneys under their wings.

As work increased and the firm's reputation for being able to repair most things, from farm machinery to prams with squeaky wheels, spread, sons Malc and Neil left their jobs at other garages to join their parents in Manuden.

Dennis and Doris decided to expand the business in 1978 by building a new workshop with MOT bay and extra ramps. They decided against going for a fancy reception area as they still wanted to give customers the personal touch and allow them to talk to the person who was going to work on their car – something the firm still does to this day.

As the business continued to increase, daughter-in law Linda, who is married to Malc, came on board and took over the running of the accounts and answering the phones.

Dennis and Doris, who are aged 87 and 86 respectively, retired in 1997, handing the business over to Malc and Neil, who were both born and educated in Stortford.

Four years later, Malc's youngest son Craig started in the workshop as an apprentice and so the third generation of Bonneys began being associated with the business. Meanwhile, Malc's eldest son Gavin followed his dream to design F1 race cars, firstly working for Ferrari before becoming senior designer at SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team.

The garage still works on a variety of cars such as Model T Fords and other classics as well as current vehicles.

"Mum and Dad's dream still lives on and we are hoping that their great grandchildren may take up the challenge and carry on the business," said Malc.

"Our workshop has been lovingly described as a time machine - we still have lathes, tool-making equipment and welding equipment alongside up-to-the-minute diagnostics and code readers.

"We are extremely proud of our family heritage and values. We make it our promise to customers that they will always receive our honest advice and a friendly and personal service from us all."

Call 01279 813315 to get in touch or pop in to the garage at 34 The Street, Manuden.

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