Faces of Bedford: John & Rob Filby, mechanics, Willington

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John & Rob Filby

The third in our Faces of Bedford series features John Filby (and his son Rob), whose grandfather started the business they still run back in 1927.

Over to John, in his own words…

Filby’s has been in business since 1927.

My grandfather Albert came back from WW1 and went back to Flanders and settled with his wife.

He got captured and shot, worked in German coal mines throughout the war. He got shot in the buttocks!

In 1921 he came back to UK – made in back to Belgium in ’22, and in ’23 had his first child – then my father was second! Eventually had 16 children – 10 boys, four girls.

All 10 boys ended up in the motor trade and in 1927 Albert Filby set up a garage in Castle Lane – Castle Hill – which is still in the family.

My father worked there from the age of 14 and in 1946 moved to Willington and met my mother. In the early 1950s he got this place, and the rest is history.

Filby boys love taking things to pieces! Rob was in here as soon as could walk. It runs in the blood. Rob is now taking it on; I’m passing the reins over.

Geoffrey started here when he was 15 and has now turned 73 – not many have had one job for their entire career.

Diagnostics is the thing now – all the electrics and computers is a huge part of it – lots of courses for everyone but electric vehicles are the future.

My great grandfather, Arthur Filby, serviced horses and carts in the 1890’s, so the family has seen the entire transport cycle.

Rob’s lad Oliver – we’ll see if he ends up here too. He’ll probably be working with flying cars! I still have my grandfather’s old ledgers – they started on 31 January 1928, one year after he started the business.

We have a lovely embankment in Bedford, but the shopping is terrible and town has gone to pot. All the big shops have gone. There’s no point in going to town anymore – except for the market. My cousin Daniel runs the market, we’re everywhere haha!

I think they should have free parking to encourage people in – free to park at the retail park and a quid to park at John Lewis in Milton Keynes – why would you go to Bedford? It’s home – I have no complaints about home.

Faces of Bedford was set up during lockdown by commercial and wedding photographer, Dan Davies, to showcase the extraordinary people that make Bedford brilliant.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Faces of Bedford project, please email Dan at daniel@two-d.co.uk. Visit the Faces of Bedford Instagram page for the full gallery.

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