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Jobs boost as camper van firm takes over Pat's Garage site in Lyndhurst

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Pat's Garage in Lyndhurst closed in May this year
Pat's Garage in Lyndhurst closed in May this year

A NEW FOREST garage closed since May is to be transformed as the new national hub for the revival of iconic camper van specialist Dormobile, creating at least a dozen new jobs.

Pat’s Garage in Lyndhurst closed in May when Vauxhall dealer Picador vacated the site which has been a garage since 1936, ending fuel sales in the village, writes Andrew Goldman.

Now Dormobile Ltd, for decades Britain’s biggest camper van specialist, has spent more than £1m buying the half-acre site in Romsey Road with 200sqm of showrooms and nearly 300sqm of workshops on the main artery through Lyndhurst.

The workshops should be reopened within a month, with the business’s official launch early in the new year. Fuel sales will not be restarted, however.

General manager Ant Sullivan said: “The brand has been a sleeping giant, and this freehold purchase gives us a blank canvas to transform it to use for camper van fabrications, classic renovations, sales and rentals.

“We are delighted to be in Lyndhurst, we want to be a positive part of the Forest.

“The local community can rest at ease that it isn’t going to be for housing but will bring trade and jobs to Lyndhurst as a camping mecca.

“We will be needing fabricators, mechanics, and those qualified in habitation work including gas and electrics.”

The loss of Pat’s had been described in May as “another blow for Lyndhurst” but this week parish council chair Cllr Chris Willsher gave the Dormobile news a cautious welcome

He told the A&T: “We regret the loss of the petrol station which was a valued community asset.

“We have yet to see the detailed plans. However, we welcome the opportunity of new jobs coming to Lyndhurst and hope that the new owners will want to play a wider role in supporting life in the village.”

Mr Sullivan, who is running the company with director Paul Street and finance manager Sean Bolton, said it was expanding as it transferred from its temporary base at Alderbury, near Salisbury, after some years at Mill Lane, Nursling, then SHB Romsey, after Mike Street bought the company in 1999.

Paul Street told the A&T: “I am absolutely delighted to have acquired Pat’s Garage and bring Dormobile Ltd to the location it deserves.

“Having grown up in the Forest it’s especially important for me to see how we can impact the local area positively, by creating jobs and becoming part of the fabric of this community.

"It’s a really exciting time for this iconic brand. Simply, there’s no better location than the magnificent New Forest for Dormobile to start this new chapter.”

Recent years have been a far cry from Dormobile’s heyday of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s as part of the Kent-based Martin Walter company and the birth of the first Dormobile-branded Bedford CA van ‘bedroom on wheels’.

After unprecedented success, the tail end of the millennium saw a rapid decline in Dormobile’s fortunes with rising costs of raw materials, competition and the modern package holiday leading to the factory’s closure in 1994.

Now, driven by the Covid pandemic-driven staycations trend, the business is booming with demand for conversions and restorations.

Mr Sullivan said: “We are custodians of this great name and are determined to keep the legacy going.”

Job applicants can contact Mr Sullivan on 07514 139875.

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