Early reunion jump starts MTA date

By Liz Wylie -
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Set for Friday's reunion are Paul Bardell (left), Len Leach, Kevin Edmonds, Alan Bates, Ian Drummond, Graham Bardell and Don Adams.
Set for Friday's reunion are Paul Bardell (left), Len Leach, Kevin Edmonds, Alan Bates, Ian Drummond, Graham Bardell and Don Adams.

There will be plenty of reminiscing when a group of retired motor traders and mechanics gets together for a reunion in Whanganui this week.

Organiser Don Adams said the Motor Trade Association will be 100 years old next year and he thought it would be a great idea to hold an impromptu get-together for Whanganui members before the anniversary.

The old friends gathered at the city's oldest automotive sales and repair service, Wanganui Motors, for a photo this week. Wanganui Motors was established in 1963 but some remember when it was called Merryweathers and learned their trade there.

Alan Bates trained Ian "Heck" Drummond there in the 1940s, and they would later work together at Linwood Motors.

"I didn't swear," said Ian. "I was a good, Presbyterian boy, but I did say heck if I dropped my tools and I must have said it often because I got the nickname."

Nicknames are handed out freely in automotive workshops but one of Whanganui's oldest MTA members, Gordon "Tiger" Edmonds, said he earned his nickname long before he started work.

"I got the name 89 years ago when I used to pinch my brother's Tiger Tim comics," he said.

Mr Edmonds would establish his family business in 1940 at 59 Jones St, where a bottle store now stands.

"We worked on a lot of tractors as well as cars.

"People got everything fixed then and it didn't matter how old a vehicle was, you would work to fix it. We used to do a lot of valve grinds and ring replacements in those days," he said.

Mr Edmonds said he believes there were some Whanganui motor traders involved in the establishment of the MTA, which began in Feilding in 1917. The association was named the Garage Proprietors of New Zealand in its early days and would go through a number of name changes before it became MTA.

Mr Adams said the gathering tomorrow will comprise members who have worked at almost every motor trading company in Whanganui.

"Everywhere from Wanganui Motors, which is the oldest, to the newest, David Jones Motors in Victoria Ave."

The reunion will held in the lower bar of the Cosmopolitan Club in Ridgway St at 4pm on Friday. Mr Adams said any MTA members and their partners are welcome and can contact him on 06 347 9975.

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