Shropshire’s oldest motor dealer Greenhous has been in existence since 1912 when Vincent Greenhous first opened a garage in Bishop’s Castle. With a record of over 100 years of selling cars and commercial vehicles, it is incredible that one family has had an unbroken relationship with Greenhous since 1927!
That family is the Overtons of Minsterley. Brothers Wilfred and Jim Overton started their haulage business in 1927 running an ex-First World War Peerless tipper. At that time Vincent Greenhous had set up a General Motors dealership and J and W Overton purchased their first truck, a Chevrolet Tipper, from Vincent. So started this 92 year (so far!) relationship between the Overton family and Greenhous.
That first Chevrolet Tipper was identical to one which had been driven fully loaded to the top of the Wrekin in a publicity stunt. As the Chevrolets became superseded by Bedford trucks, J and W Overton bought their first Bedford Tipper in 1931. Their 22nd and last Bedford was bought in 1984, some 53 years later.
In 1933 Wilfred decided to buy a Morris Oxford car from Greenhous and three years later he purchased his first Vauxhall D X.This set the trend for his driving just Vauxhalls, which his son Wilfred Junior continues to this day. Vauxhall models which stimulate memories include the Wyvern, Velox, Viva, Victor and Cavalier. Fast forward to 2019 and Wilfred Jr. has just picked up his latest Vauxhall Corsa from Greenhous Shrewsbury.
Wilfred Jr. became involved in the family business in his early years and took over from his father and uncle, running the successful Gravels Bank, Near Minsterley - based haulage business until his retirement in 1992. His eyes brighten as he looks through the family album full of historical images of early Chevrolet, Bedford and latterly Leyland DAF trucks. There are photos of his father and mother and also himself as a small boy interested in all things mechanical. The memories flow with his incredible knowledge of all of the 30 trucks and 22 cars the family have owned down the years.
Wilfred says of the long association with Greenhous: “Something that we have always valued about Greenhous is that that they always find time for the smaller business, whether it be for servicing, sale, repairs or just some general advice.
“We always knew we could trust them to deliver, and that has been the basis of our relationship from the very beginning.I’m glad to say that is still as strong as ever today.”
Speaking with Wilfred and his wife Wendy, summons up all sorts of stories of past times when there were less vehicles on the road and regulations on businesses were not as strict as nowadays. Wilfred has one such story of being caught by the authorities at a vehicle checkpoint with an overladen truck.After a warning not to put too much weight on the Bedford truck, he went on his way.Of course, he may have accidently over-loaded the truck again, but he always found an alternative route to avoid the checkpoint!
The relationship with Greenhous extended into a third generation with Wilf Jr’s son, Richard undertakingan apprenticeship at Greenhous bodyshop in Shrewsbury from 1984 to 1986.
There can be few examples of such lengthy loyalty to a local business to match that of the Overton family with Greenhous.The relationship, and the details and photos of so many iconic cars and trucks, warrants an important place in the history of Shropshire.