MORPETH mechanics are back in business after their burnt out building rose from the ashes to become a sparkling new garage.
Carbar Automotive in Coopies Lane was ravaged by fire on December 15 when a blaze broke out in a faulty vehicle.
Workers tried their best to carry on as normal in the burnt-out shell, but with extensive damage to the building, the loss of most of their equipment and the need for a new roof, there was no option but to close the premises for repairs.
Owner Kevin Robson, who set up the business five years ago, managed to find an alternative temporary site to try to keep some services going, but he was forced to lay off three of his staff and takings were down by about 60 per cent.
“We were able to get a garage round the corner which was empty, but it was a bit out of the way,” he said.
“We managed to keep our head above water, but that was about it and we lost a lot of business. We put posters and signs up, but people just didn’t know we were there. We tend to get a lot of passing trade at our own garage because we are on the main road so we lost that and we were probably down overall by about 50 to 60 per cent.”
And while Mr Robson was desperate to get back to his old premises as soon as possible, there was more cause for alarm when the roof repairs were delayed by about a month.
“It is an old building and nobody realised until we took the roof off that the gutters were no longer so we couldn’t put the new roof on until we got replacement gutters,” he said.
But now it seems there is a happy ending to the story as Carbar has been able to return to its former site and Mr Robson has re-hired his staff, while loyal customers are returning.
“It is a good news story, we have managed to come out of the ashes like a phoenix from the flames,” said Mr Robson.
“I have taken the three lads back on and everything is brand new – you need sunglasses to come in now, it is like a doctors’ surgery. We are clean when we go home now whereas after the fire it was just so black and dirty and the light could go down at any moment.
“We seem to be getting the business back now and are starting to see things pick up again.
“I feel much better, it’s a relief more than anything.
“After the fire we weren’t sure whether that was the end, but we were determined not to be beaten and it has worked out in the end.
“It has been painful, but they have made a good job of the building so we can take something positive from it.”
He added: “We do have a lot of loyal customers and it seems as if people have been waiting for us to come back. A lot of customers are coming back, now we need to get some new customers in as well.”
The garage offers car repairs, MOT work, servicing and body repairs.