RECENTLY were talking about Clarendon Motors in Bishop Auckland which caused John Thompson, of Spennymoor, to reminisce about Vale Automobiles where he started as a 15-year-old apprentice in 1963.

Vale’s – originally run by Bert Vale – was behind the Three Tuns pub, which was on Newgate Street where Boots the Chemist is today. It stretched from the back of the pub through to Kingsway.

It sold cars made by Austin, Morris, Wolseley, MG, Riley, Standard and Triumph and also “travelettes”. A travelette was a caravan that folded down into a trailer which could be easily towed behind a car.

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In John’s day, Vale’s was owned by the Lingford family, who famously made baking powder. “When their delivery driver was off work, myself or another apprentice, David Willis, would be sent to drive their van and deliver their products all over the North-East,” says John. “This was a good break from our normal workshop duties.”

Does anyone have any information or photographs of either Vale’s or the Three Tuns?