Brownings Garage in Angel, Islington was started in 1910 by Cyril Browning who was a metal worker by trade. The business initially repaired motorbike frames that were all trellis designs and the tubes and joints were prone to kinking and cracking in crashes. The bikes were stripped, the frame tubes were straightened with sand, a plank with a hole in it and a small fire. The joints were then re-welded and the bikes reassembled.
Henry Brown was a young mechanic for Mr. Browning and was sent to Leyland to build tanks for the war effort. By the time the war was over Cyril Browning had cancer and Henry took over the garage in around 1947. It is now run by the third generation of the Brown family.
The move to car repair started in the 1920’s and a single home made ramp was installed. The garage has grown to 5 bays with a major refurbishment happening in 2009/10. The nature of the car park and the type of power units and electronics have changed enormously in a short time and the garage will be inside the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2020
Political will and technical development into hybrid, electric and ultra lean burn petrol engines will be major factors into which areas of ongoing tooling and training are undertaken in the medium term. Long term the transportation in London will be cleaner, faster and probably more automated.
Brownings Garage are ready for the challenge, we can see that specialization will play a larger part in the survival of independent workshops in the future.