The Lady and the Morris

Continuing on with the series on growing up within the family business and starting a career in accounting.

With both my parents heavily involved in the family garage business, it was expected that I would follow suit, but my father encouraged me to study hard and go for an accountancy career. I always enjoyed the subject of maths, so accountancy seemed like a reasonable choice. 

After school, I went to Bristol Polytechnic and took the Foundation Course in Accountancy for which there were 7 subjects to pass in and in those days all subjects had to be passed in the same sitting. This was extremely hard when, for me, there was only one subject that I seemed unable to get through, which was Law. I went through retakes over many years, also when I was working in a Chartered Accountancy practise in Cheddar, Somerset, and even during the time when I was ‘courting’ a lovely young lady who later became my wife.

With the family business being a garage, there was quite some choice of which car to use for our wedding! There were cars by Austin, Morris, Rover, MG and Wolesley, but there was car that was extra special as my paternal great uncle had bought it in 1936 from the then named 'Barnes & Sons'. A Morris 8 four door saloon. This lovely car is still owned by my older brother!

For me, this was a ‘no brainer’ and so my Uncle Gordon, Dad's brother and partner in the business, was our chauffeur for the day. Below you can see a photo of myself and the beautiful old lady, oh, and my new wife! When it had be raining most of the day previously, I could forgive the saggy ribbons!

Morris 8.jpg

At that stage I had never imagined that I would one day be a professional chauffeur, as my mind was still fixed on being an accountant.

In the following years after being married I changed the companies I worked for a few times, and then the accountant role at the family garage business became available. I accepted the position and gradually took over from my mother. After the transition was over, I was heavily involved in producing month end accounts for the purchase and sales ledgers as well as the nominal ledger and producing management accounts for the Forecourt, Parts, Service, Paint and Body Shop, RAC relays and Customs (for RAF Lyneham), and New and Used Car Sales departments.

It was a time when I could put my 'double entry T Account (Debits and Credits)' knowledge into practise first hand, using a massive NCR Accounting Machine, similar to the photo I have found on the website below. The whole machine weighed a ton or more and was incredibly noisy!

NCR Accounting Machine.jpg

I learnt so much during the years at the garage and was very much involved in stock control, forecasting and managing staff and shifts on the forecourt as well as serving on the pumps and balancing the till.  Debt collection was also something I had to, and I have to say, back in those days farmers were sometimes quite difficult to get to pay. I also used to have to climb up on tankers, one of them is below to check the dipstick - we have deliveries of 27,500 litres sometimes twice a week

G & K Barnes tanker, Lyneham.jpg

I can remember on more than one occasion people driving off without paying for their fuel, with me quickly getting someone to stand in for me and then I drove off promptly to chase them down, sadly unsuccessfully. But that was quite fun!