A family run car dealership is celebrating its Centenary this year. Blackshaws of Alnwick and Morpeth has been established in the area for ten decades during which time the world has changed beyond all recognition and early ‘automobiles’ have completely transformed into the technologically-advanced plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles we see today.
The company’s long and enviable heritage began in Tower Lane, Alnwick in 1919 when it was founded by brothers John Charles and Edward Warren Blackshaw at a time when the horse and carriage was still the most common form of transport.
Founders John Charles & Edward Warren Blackshaw Blackshaws in Bondgate Without, Alnwick in 1925
Six years later, the business, which sold Riley, Clyno and Leyland Trojan cars, moved to Bondgate Without in the centre of Alnwick where it remained as a familiar landmark to Alnwick residents for almost 80 years.
After the Second World War, John Charles’s son William Dixon Blackshaw inherited the business and gradually expanded the site which was by now a British Leyland dealership. In the 1950s ‘Dick’, as he was better known, acquired additional land in front of the garage and promptly converted it into a Cleveland petrol station.
William Dixon Blackshaw expanded the Blackshaws’ site in the 1950s
Tragically Dick Blackshaw passed away prematurely in 1977 after a short illness and the Blackshaw business was passed to his relatively young sons Stuart and David, who became the third-generation owners, while the adjoining petrol station was left to youngest son Richard.
The Blackshaw brothers in the 1970s
Over the next two decades, the Blackshaw brothers changed the dealership franchise and formed strong, new business partnerships with two Japanese car manufacturers. In the 1990s there was also a change in the company ownership when Stuart and David decided to dissolve their 25-year partnership with Stuart leaving to set up a used car business in north Northumberland.
The approach of the new millennium saw fourth-generation family members Jill and William Blackshaw join the business followed by Richard who by then had sold the adjoining petrol station.
In the 2000s, due to access difficulties and lack of space in Bondgate Without, Blackshaws took the momentous decision to relocate the Alnwick dealership into a purpose-built site on the Lionheart Enterprise Park at the edge of town. In the first decade of the 21st century, the company also established a successful dealership in Berwick-upon-Tweed which was later sold as a going concern after the company was approached with an offer to buy the site in 2010.
Blackshaws Mitsubishi Morpeth opened in March 2016
In 2016, following several years of buoyant trading as a single-site dealership, fourth-generation owners William and Jill Blackshaw felt the time was right for further expansion and a new Mitsubishi Motors dealership was opened by the company in the Coopies Lane industrial area on the outskirts of Morpeth.
Reflecting on 100 years of history William and Jill Blackshaw sum up the feelings of the six members of the Blackshaw family who still work in the business today and also describe how they hope to commemorate the company’s Centenary:
“We feel very proud of our heritage and although Blackshaws has grown significantly over the years, we are still very much a friendly, family business routed in the local community. We are immensely grateful for all the support we’ve received over the last century from our employees, customers, suppliers, franchise partners and also the community in general. So much so, that during our Centenary year we’d like to give something back. For many years we have undertaken fund-raising activity in aid of HospiceCare North Northumberland and this year we hope to raise more than we’ve ever done before by donating a new car as a raffle prize. 100% of the ticket money will go to HospiceCare to help with the wonderful work they do caring for people in our area in times of most need.”
In addition to Blackshaws 100th Year Celebration Raffle, the company plans to celebrate its Centenary with a series of special events throughout the year. A spectacular party for staff and their partners at Alnwick Castle Guest Hall took place in February and this will be followed by a party for customers in the spring to mark the opening of Blackshaws expanded car showroom and the launch of the Mitsubishi range at its Alnwick dealership. In the summer Blackshaws will also host a vintage car and stunt driving event with motoring stunt celebrity Paul Swift and the year will culminate in a charity Winter Fair when the new car raffle prize will be drawn. The company certainly intends it to be a year to remember.
To find out more about Blackshaws’ Centenary celebrations visit www.blackshaws.net. 100th Year Celebration raffle tickets are available from HospiceCare North Northumberland or from Blackshaws Alnwick showroom.