Birthday celebrations at Whaplode Drove

Fred Brand cuts his birthday cake with Martyn Brand (left) and Adam Brand. Photo: SG030215-138TW
Fred Brand cuts his birthday cake with Martyn Brand (left) and Adam Brand. Photo: SG030215-138TW

W H Brand can claim to have been serving the motorist since 1925.

It’s the day 90 years ago the business was first opened in Whaplode Drove by William Horace Brand, known as Bill, who began selling petrol and repairing cycles and motorcycles very close to the current garage.

Four generations: Fred Brand with (from left) great grandson Reece, grandaughter Sarah and great grandson Callum Crosby and son Martyn Brand. Photo: SG030215-141TW

Four generations: Fred Brand with (from left) great grandson Reece, grandaughter Sarah and great grandson Callum Crosby and son Martyn Brand. Photo: SG030215-141TW

That day in 1925 was also memorable for another reason: it was the day that Bill’s son, Fred, was born.

Fred, who went on to take over the business, celebrated his 90th birthday on Tuesday, surrounded by family and friends.

Fred’s family includes his wife Alfreda, their son Martyn and his wife Eileen, their son Adam, who is sales manager, and his sister Sarah, who has two children.

Adam charts the company’s history for us, starting with William moving to the village as an orphan in the early years of the 20th century following his parents’ death from TB.

Fred Brand celebrates his 90th birthday with his wife Alfreda (left) and daughter Lorraine. Photo: SG030215-139TW

Fred Brand celebrates his 90th birthday with his wife Alfreda (left) and daughter Lorraine. Photo: SG030215-139TW

In 1925, Bill opened his first premises selling petrol and bicycles, as well as things such as tyres, inner tubes and charging accumulators. Soon afterwards, motorcycles were also sold. The sign for the premises was being made when Bill’s wife Edith gave birth to Fred.

By 1936 Bill had established himself as a good mechanic and salesman and bought his own house and three acres of land to build a garage.

By 1948 Fred was involved in the business. To raise enough money to build new premises he competed in Speedway, becoming the all time top scorer and captain for Yarmouth. Chosen to ride for Great Britain, Fred was transferred to Norwich in 1953 and qualified for the Speedway World Final in 1954.

By 1956 Fred was able to build a new garage and his father saw the sign W H Brand & Son go up on the new premises shortly before he died in a motoring accident.

In the 1960s W H Brand was a BMC agent and when BMC became British Leyland the garage sold brands such as Austin, Morris, Rover and Triumph.

In 1986 British Leyland was linked with Honda and became Rover Group, eventually MG Rover Group.

By this time Fred’s son Martyn was in the driving seat at W H Brand & Son. He had also followed his father’s footsteps into racing, and raced stock cars from 1970. His most successful years were 1987 winning the World Championship for the first time and retaining that title the following year, as well as gaining the European, British, English and National Championship titles.

By this time Martyn’s son Adam had joined the business, firstly as a mechanic and helping out with car sales, but moving permanently into car sales from 2002.