Well-loved Hackney garage to close after 25 years
- Credit: Michael Benjamin
A Hackney car garage has closed its doors for the final time after a quarter of a century.
John Benjamin, alongside his wife and two sons, have worked to build the Car Care Centre on Rendlesham Road from the ground up.
The land where the Car Care Centre sits has now been bought by property developers, and John plans to move into semi-retirement.
Prior to 1994 when he set up the business, John was the manager of a company in east London; he wanted to open a garage “to serve the public and look after people in my neighbourhood”.
Over the years at the Car Care Centre, John has worked on cars belonging to people from local schools and doctors’ surgeries, for actors on EastEnders, and even reporters at the Hackney Gazette.
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When asked how he felt closing up for good on December 1, John said: “It was sad. Especially now at Christmas time. I remember our kids loved spending time at the garage during the holidays. They’re going to miss it.”
He feels able to close the workshop now because his children are working at different companies. His son, Michael, worked at the garage for 12 months after graduating from university and is now employed by Facebook.
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The family have spoken to many sad customers who will miss John and the garage.
Annie Firbank has known John for over 20 years: “I can’t bear it. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. He’s been such a friend and has saved my life many times.”
Another regular at the car centre, Annie Ekwonna, said: “We’ve been with John for 18 to 20 years, and we know that he’s always on the end of the phone if there’s a problem.”
The Ekwonnas moved from Hackney to Harrow Hill 11 years ago, but say they still drive back to John’s workshop for car repairs.
Annie explained her entire family was upset about the news: “When I told my daughter John was closing the workshop, she said to him, ‘not for me, you keep fixing my car’. It’s a big loss for the whole community.”
John added: “First and foremost I’m going to miss the customers. And I’m going to miss Hackney.
“But of course, nothing lasts forever, and it’s come to the time where I’ve got to move on.”