A Harlow businessman who has been working at his garage for 50 years says he still looks to his father for inspiration.

Laurence Nichols took over from the family business, which has been running for 50 years, later renaming it Uncle Tom’s Motoring Centre after the death of his father in 1989.

He started work at the business in Edinburgh Way as a tea boy at the age of 12.

Mr Nichols said: “Within a year I’d moved on to wheel balancing, then I’d graduated to tyre fitting. Finally, in 1976 I worked in the family business.

“The name Uncle Tom's Motoring Centre came as a result of the death of my father in 1989. 

“After considering all derivatives of ‘fast’, ‘speedy’ and ‘quick’, we decided to follow a family theme involving my father's name. 

“This was based on the fact that he had several nieces and nephews and when any of them needed their cars repaired they went to see ‘Uncle Tom’ and that is where the name comes from.”

Epping Forest Guardian: Laurence NicholsLaurence Nichols

The 63-year-old says that thoughts of his father still spur him on, with the tyre expert showing no signs of slowing down.

It looks like his father's will continue after Mr Nichols renewed his partnership with the First Stop network, which offers tyres and car services.

He explained that being a partner with the service adds “strength and professionalism” to the business.

And with the partnership benefiting the garage, he estimates he will stick around for at least another 10 years.

He said: “I put my longevity down to moving from the workshop floor into total admin as the paperwork and legislation has increased and this is another reason why being part of First Stop makes sense.”

The businessman said the industry has changed a bit since he started, explaining that tyre sizes have dramatically increased and it now seems like every new model of car released has its own specific tyre fitment.

For more information about Uncle Tom’s Motoring Centre, contact 01279 439192 or visit www.firststop.co.uk