T Northeast ltd first started in 21st July 1959 by Mr T Northeast. When they had finished their time in the RAF both of Tom’s sons came to work in Horley. Both Rex and Leon ran the business for many years, seeing trends come and go in Scooters, minicars and motorcycles in general.
After many years as the foremost Bond agents in the area, when the time was right the Reliant franchise was also taken on. Apart from anything else this also necessitated a move around of the premises and the resultant reshuffle inside the shop itself can still be seen with the office right in the way.
Back in 1959 the British bike industry was in full flight and BSA, Francis Barnett and Ariel were well represented concentrating mainly on the smaller engines and the commuter market Lambretta was soon added as an agency. The business went from strength to strength building a good reputation based on friendly, reliable and honest service. The reputation for always having something on the shelf to get you out of trouble saved many people from a very long push home.
Rex manned the stores whilst Leon looked after the machine sales and paperwork sides of the business. Apart from being deaf and only having one arm Rex established a reputation both locally and in the bike trade in general for being a real character but willing to help anybody, many a night he would stay at work till midnight sorting out his orders, and he would always answer a knock on the door from a stranded motorcyclist.
Leon left the business in 1989 to pursue his other love of wine. He moved to a small Hotel and vineyard in Tuscany where he stayed for many happy years until his retirement when he returned to the UK.
The fully equipped workshop has seen many changes over the years in terms of equipment and personnel but a few things have never changed; one is the attention to detail and pride in the work, the other is the workshop foreman Mr Keith Taylor. Keith joined the firm in 1976 and has become quite a character in his own right. Very often the rest of the staff are in stitches as Keith regales them with stories about either his smallholding, love of ships or his beloved full size Steam roller. In 2014 Keith took the incredibly brave decision to begin a new career in the heavy plant industry. We hope he has much fun there as he did here.
Rex’s wife Shirley joined the firm in early 1989 having worked in banks and cash offices for major businesses it seemed common sense for her to take over the books. Shirley still comes in part time, taking care of all the accounts and paperwork that seem to be necessary to the running of a modern small business. Shirley has since retired and is enjoying her life of leisure, travelling the world and seeing the sights both home and abroad.
Ian, Rex’s youngest son started work with the company in late 1989, having just finished an engineering apprenticeship. Originally he started in the workshop and worked with Keith for about 8 years, learning the business as it were. He now takes care of the day to day running of the company.
Al joined in 2003 as a mechanic after working both for Suzuki GB and working for many years as a despatch rider all over the country. He recently married the lovely Heidi and is very active in the church group they both attend.
It would be remiss of me not to mention our shop 'boy' Peter. Peter has worked most of his adult life in the motor industry and automotive engine reconditioning trades, but his love of Minis and old British two stroke bikes has kept him on two wheels for the last 55 years. In the last few months Peter has made the decision to finally retire from the daily grind so he can spend more time with his lovely wife and his various vehicles. We wish him well in his retirement and hope he looks back on his time here with fond memories
The delightful Sam has now taken over full control of the office work and despite some unfortunate health issues continues to keep everyone in line. A firm hand is usually all that is needed and Sam is more than happy to lay down the law when required.
With Keith’s departure and being a firm believer in the apprenticeship system the firm has now been joined by Adam as a trainee mechanic. A keen amateur boxer Adam and his family have been long standing customers and his willingness to learn have made him a valuable asset to the company.
Peter’s retirement also left a space in the shop which has been filled by yet another long standing customer. Martyn a very keen Triumph rider has now joined Ian behind the counter. He too is very willing to learn and as soon as he can work the computer properly will prove his worth!
In 2006 the company embarked on its most ambitious project yet, when one of its suppliers announced his intention to retire. Bavanar Products ltd the former importers of Royal Enfield, KTM, Beta and Hyosung decided to have a well earned rest. When he did the new importers of Hyosung decided to only stock spares for the new models, this in turn left a gap in the market. T Northeast Ltd are now the sole importers for spare parts to fit all Hyosung models and all road going Beta’s.
To highlight the company’s strength of feeling about the future of the motorcycle trade, Ian has joined a national committee whose sole function is to rewrite the out of date motorcycle apprenticeship scheme and replace it with a more up to date, relevant and employer based regime. This is a very long process involving a fair amount of government bureaucracy but the results hopefully will be very worthwhile.