The Forsselius garages, Blossom St, 1930s

Number 20 Blossom Street was built as the Forsselius car showroom, between the wars. The Pevsner guide calls it ‘a period piece well worth preserving’. Audrey, who now lives in the US, remembers it well, and the original Forsselius garage across the road.

“My father worked at Forsselius Garage in Blossom St. He was always called Kitch, he was a very skilled mechanic. I think most people, taxidrivers etc, knew dad. Another uncle worked at the garage on the Mount.

The original Forsselius was on the convent side of the road. There was a showroom with the long entrance down on the right side, living in accommodation over was a Mr and Mrs. Hall, he worked at the garage also. The Lion and Lamb was on that side with the Post Office a little further.

When Forsselius bought the Horsleys Gunsmiths they quickly knocked it down. It was a lovely old house upstairs before that, 15 rooms I think in all, with attics above, a paradise for kids. They put up the big showroom with the righthand side tower which housed the petrol pumps and stairs to the apartment above where we lived. It was no. 20 Blossom Street.

forsselius_1930s_garage_york_280212_350.jpg

The flat roof over the big showroom was our play-yard. It had two big roof lights on it and we played in the big gaps in between. During the war the Forsselius with the clock tower was used by the National Fire Service.

Dad was well known, with his fawn overalls, crossing the road from one side to the other, to the garages. He was a familiar figure in the Lion and Lamb where the men played dominos at weekends (to their wives annoyance).

Mum used to serve petrol if a customer rang during the night!

My father was in motor engineering from leaving school at 14 it was his life. He saw so much development in cars. He once told me that modern engines were just a set of boxes put together. In the earlier model cars which were much heavier before mass production if a part was broken the mechanic had to go down the workshop and often make a new piece on the machinery in the workshop.

He saw Morris and Wolseley and Austin cars become popular and we ran an old Armstrong Siddeley a customer left him in her will as he had looked after it for her whilst she was a customer over the years. I remember going out in it and the smell of the leather upholstery.

My father smoked a pipe and often stood at the front of the garage with it in his mouth unlit. A customer once saw him and reported him to his boss as it being dangerous when serving petrol!!! ”

See also …

Audrey’s further recollections of life in Blossom Street, memories of Micklegate and Railway Street, and memories of York during the Second World War

The Press website has a photo of the original Forsselius garage, the first in York to sell petrol (from 1921).
They also have a 1957 photo of the showroom pictured above.

  By Lisa @YorkStories 8 March 2012 To link to this page's proper location please use the > permalink.

About Lisa @YorkStories

Lisa @YorkStories is the creator, administrator, and writer of content on www.yorkstories.co.uk. She can be contacted on this link or via Twitter, @YorkStories

9 comments

  1. Andy Tuckwell

    I’d not seen that hotel before (I think it must have still been a car showroom in the 70s) but judging from the picture I’d say it was a rather clever re-use of a stylish building that could otherwise have been lost. Showroom into dining room and offices into bedrooms – nothing to it! There isn’t even very much intrusive purple. Much better than the very bland new-built offices just up the road a little, which could be anywhere.
    So well done to the Whitbread architects and the York planners.

  2. YorkStories

    I think it was a bar, before it was a hotel ? … (quick Google…) yes, Brubakers. Relatively recently, and no doubt remembered by someone out there?

    You’re right Andy, it is good that it has been retained, and that it was recognised as stylish and worth keeping.

  3. drake Richards

    Clock Tower is iconic.Much of it’s charm is lost due the brick façades of the upper level.Would have been worth seeing as Audrey recalled it

  4. the windows on the upper level were my home!!! a living room, 3 bedrooms at the front and a kitchen, separate pantry, bathroom and toilet at the rear. The kitchen back door opened onto the roof of the front showroom of the garage, and had 2 bed roof lights. we never broke a piece of glass, nor did the bombing nearby. We played up there, skipping, ball games against the wall of the appartment.
    During the bombing we went out and saw the flashes from the gun on top of the odeon.
    Before it was a garage it was a big building with a large double door to the road which I believe said
    Horsleys Gunsmiths on it. that lead to a rear courtyard with the old house we lived in. 15 rooms if I remember, we roamed at will between them and the attics,all empty then. We moved whilst it was all knocked down and restored and returned when it was finished and lived in the appartment above for years. there was a big rear garden behind the garage, it went back to the railway. It had been a lovely place we found the remains of an old ornamental pond and pathways with edgings, plus an old tin boat at the bottom of the pond. there were 3 apple trees and a couple of pear trees too. We climbed them and spent hours on the roof of a big old wooden building where one or two cars were stored.
    It was a boat, it was anything we wanted it to be. In the war a shelter was dug in the garden too, but my father said we wouldnt use it as we werent going to die like animals in the ground. We stayed up in our appartment and were there the night the Bar convent was bombed plus the station. Leeman road etc.
    I remember walking to see the damage at the top of Marygate and the church in coney street.
    The Bar Convent was just across the road from us and we were us and we were under our dining table and heard it whistling down, then a total silence and then the crump and the sound of falling glass along blossom street.
    It was a great place to live, everything was around us, grocery stores, cake and bread shops, butchers, sweet shops, greengrocery shops. the Odeon Cinema, the garages, the wet fish shop, the bicycle shop, plus the two garages, a post office, a vet. 2 schools, 3 pubs, an hotel, the Convent, a barber shop, a book store, even a mens loo under the bar. Buses passed the door, not that we ever used them.
    the horses were walked up to the racecourse from the station.. “There were regular soldiers being marched by. The Coxes shop with its home made icecream. Charlie Greaves standing on the doorstep of the Lion and Lamb pub. Life was full of activity always.

  5. YorkStories

    Hi Audrey – I do like your phrase ‘it was anything we wanted it to be’ – sums up the wonderful inventiveness of childhood. Thanks for sharing more of your memories on this page.

  6. Clock Master

    Thank you to your blog for solving the mystery (to me anyway) of what the Premier Inn building was originally used for. I have included it in my blog postings for York which tries to capture all public clocks in the city (www.publicclockthis.blogspot.com)

    • I wonder if the Sacred Heart school of Michael,is the place I remember in WW2,as the English Martyr Church Hall,sited next to the Odeon cinama ,accessed via an alley way alongside,near to Dalton terrace.There in was a very popular youth club,with many activities including amateur theatrical group,school friends of mine took part in these activities in some cases leading to roles in the York Mystery Plays,between 1957 thro’ to 1980,so it was the cradle for subsequent note worthy acting careers.

  7. YorkStories

    I’m glad this page on the Forsselius building was helpful.

    http://www.publicclockthis.blogspot.co.uk/ is really interesting – and it’s nice to see photos of the astronomical clock in York Minster. I mentioned it just recently as part of the text was used in one of the artworks during the Illuminating York festival: http://www.yorkstories.co.uk/blog/2013/11/05/york-minster-transformed-illuminating-york-2013/

  8. is there any one remembers the old sacred heart school, next to the odeon on blossom st ? i went there in 1957 58. also st stephens orphanage. would love to get anything on these.

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