More historical details about the Soans Ford car dealership in Leamington were given to Sydenham History Group on Tuesday.
Managing director Richard Soans’ presentation at the Sydni Centre included many old photographs.
From origins at Bromley in Kent in 1895 to Leamington, first on the Parade in 1928 (now McDonald’s), then to Dormer Place in 1933 and finally to Sydenham in 1967, Soans have been Ford dealers for most of the company’s existence.
Starting in a shed selling, repairing and later building bicycles, Percy Edward Soans was later joined by his brother Charles Herbert Soans and in 1902 started trading as Soans Brothers from a shop in Bromley.
They expanded into motor cycles and car sales, forming joint ventures with various business partners, becoming Ford dealers in 1919.
Following an amicable sale of his share of the business to his brother, Charles sought pastures new and came to Leamington as Ford’s new main dealer.
Having survived the hard times of the 1930s and the war, the company started to grow until a need for much larger premises saw it move from Dormer Place to Sydenham.
Charles died in 1950 leaving his son Fred as managing director.
With employee numbers of 160 and annual sales of new Fords in excess of 1,000, Soans became a very successful business under the leadership of Fred and his son Richard.
During 1995 Ford, along with other car manufacturers, reassessed its dealer requirements, which led to the sale of the dealership to the Ryland Group and later to Allen Ford.
However, the company CHS Developments Ltd, with Richard Soans as its sole employee, still retained an interest in the ownership of the Sydenham site. Other companies still carry out car sales and servicing from the premises although the future use of the site by the car trade is uncertain as planning permission for a housing development is understood to be pending.
The area will be known as the ‘ Soans site’ for many years to come so perhaps the roads will have car themed names starting with Soans Drive.