Geoff Newland, Sevenoaks, 22/6/2012

From 1966-1972 I worked for the Beadles Group, latterly as Workshop Manager of their newly acquired (from Cripps Brothers) Morris/ MG/ Wolseley/ BMC dealership in Sidcup, Kent.

The Beadles Group was owned by the Rootes family and the holding company was GDR Holdings - I always assume the "R" stood for Rootes. The family came to own Nuffield-BMC dealerships when Reginald Rootes married William Beadle's daughter. GDR Holdings also owned Cherwell Motors, which in my time certainly held the Triumph franchise.

Occasionally Sir Reginald Rootes and or Sir Timothy Rootes would visit the Sidcup premises as their Managing Director, Dudley Baker, had his office there - the original Beadles business was based in Dartford but as Dudley lived in Reigate it saved him several extra miles travelling.

I have two particular memories of Sir Reginald and Sir Timothy: the latter usually had a chauffeur driven Triumph 2000/2500 and on one visit the Lucas fuel injection was playing up - very common in my experience, but a nice car and quick.

Far more interesting was Sir Reginald's visit when he came by prototype Humber Super Snipe (or was it a Pullman?) with V8 engine - I cannot remember if it was a Ford or Chrysler unit. The power steering was leaking and I was asked to have a look at it. There was little we could do without spares but seem to remember we tightened everything we could and topped up the reservoir. Naturally I had to personally road test the car to ensure my Group's supremo was safe to get home to Smarden in Kent. The performance was electric in a straight line but cornering and roundabouts were less enjoyable, to put it diplomatically. The standard car was similar from memory but the V8's massive performance must have raised a safety issue and one of many reasons for the V8 model not going into production?

What happened to the car? Does it survive or has anyone made a replica?

I wonder how many of the non-Rootes franchised dealerships were a family hedge against their eponymous companies failing?

As I said at the start, only a small story but I hope it will be of interest to your members.