Records of Red Garages, Llandudno

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection includes Minute Books, Debentures, Registers of car sales and members, Annual Returns, Share Certificates, Newspaper Articles, Advertising ephemera and Correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1907 the Llandudno Motor and Garage Company Ltd. was founded by J. J. Wooler of Colwyn Bay and Manchester with W.F. Watson and W. Broomfield as co directors. Their intention was to provide garaging facilities and to pioneer motor coach tours using their 15 seater solid tyred Dennis charabancs known as the Royal Reds.

In 1909 the company began a bus service in the Bangor area, with a single decker bus providing a town service and an open topped double decker operating between Bangor and Bethesda. 1910 saw the first ascent up the Great Orme by a Royal Red coach along the tram track.

In 1911 Mr. Frank A. Wilkes was appointed manager and secretary of the company and in 1912 he became a director. At about this time motor car selling was added to the coaching interest and the company expanded steadily adding section after section to their Vaughan Street premises and building the main showrooms which flanked Conway Road.

During the First World War the whole company was engaged in munitions work and also timber haulage for the Board of Trade. The Llandudno site was also used by the army as a drill hall.

In 1917 Mr. F.A. Wilkes became Managing Director. He had previously worked for 10 years with the Wolseley Motor Company in Birmingham.

Under his direction the expansion was to continue with the opening of other premises and in 1922 the firm took over the garage formerly known as Olympia on the Abergele Road , Old Colwyn whilst a car showroom plot was developed at Llandudno in 1923.

Seven years later in 1929 a depot of Red Garages Ltd. was opened in Caernarfon.[Its name was changed to Caernarfon Motors Ltd. in 1972]

In 1937 there were changes in the directorate which gave Mr. F.A. Wilkes complete control of the company. The co-owners G.A. Humphreys and E.N. Humphreys retired and the company reformed with responsible officials in its service becoming shareholders. The board then comprised Mr. F. A. Wilkes as chairman and M.D., his son G.A.F. (Tony) Wilkes and Mr. A.J. Hoar - manager at Caernarfon.

In 1946 the company opened the West Shore Garage on Herkomer Road, Llandudno.

1949 saw the name of the company change to Red Garages Ltd. and in 1957 the firm celebrated 50 years of motoring.

Mr. F. A. Wilkes died in 1958 and his son G.A.F. (Tony) Wilkes took over as chairman and M.D, his co- directors were Mrs. D.J. Wilkes, widow of F.A. Wilkes, Mrs. D. Wilkes, Mr. M.V. Bailey, Mr. T.H. Mellor and Mr. C. A. Porter.

Expansion continued with the West Shore Garage having extensions to the garage, service and coach fleet areas in 1959. In 1960 a new service station was openend on Abergele Road called the Wynn Service Station.

By 1961 Red Garages was one of the largest concerns of its kind in the area employing 150 staff. The new extension at the Llandudno site on Argyll and Conway Roads comprised new administrative, service and spare parts departments, a fuel forecourt with a dual carriageway making the premises 5 times the size of the original 1907 garage which was then to be used entirely for the accommodation of approximatley 150 cars.

During the 1960s their other concerns included Glaslyn Motors Ltd.[ 1964 -1968] and a depot at Llangefni [ 1965 - 1976.]

In 1974 Reds sold both the West Shore and Old Colwyn garages.

Changes had occurred in the franchise company with Chrysler UK taking a controlling interest in Rootes and by 1980s this franchise had been sold to Talbot a susbsidary of the French giant PSA.

In 1977 Red Garages celebrated 70 years in the motor trade with a motoring exhibition and lots of publicity.

Mr. G.A.F.(Tony) Wilkes decided to retire as Managing Director in 1981 and was suceeded by his son Dr. Colin Wilkes the following year marked 75 years of motoring for the firm.

In May 1987 Red Garages decided to stop selling fuel at their garage on Conway Road, Llandudno. Mr. Colin Wilkes told the press it was because they needed the piece of land to build a new showroom to develop their car dealership franchise and insisted the decision had nothing to do with incresed competition for petrol sales. Sadly by July of the same year the Red Garages Group had called in the receivers as they could no longer pay off their debts. The 4 companies that comprised the organisation - Red Garages North Wales Ltd., Red Garages Llandudno Ltd., Royal Red Coaches and Caernarfon Motors employed 70 people. The companies were finally sold and Kwik Fit Tyre Company stands on the Conway Road site whilst Mochdre Garage Ltd occupies the original site on Argyll Road.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Access to some documents may be restricted due to Data Protection legislation, Conwy Archives will advise where this is the case. For details and opening hours see http://www.conwy.gov.uk/en/Resident/Libraries-Museums-and-Archives/Archives/Archives.aspx.

Related Material

See also CP339 for photographs in this collection