Casefile 2: Rheged Mo­tor Dis­man­tlers , Pen­rith

VIZ - - Letterbocks -

The Lake Dis­trict is one of the coun­try’s most popular tourist des­ti­na­tions. And with many vis­i­tors ar­riv­ing by car, the Cum­brian spare part in­dus­try is boom­ing. One busi­ness hop­ing to take ad­van­tage of the de­mand for sec­ond hand auto parts is Rheged Mo­tor Dis­man­tlers in Pen­rith.

Be­fore vis­it­ing, I at­tempted to ring up to re­serve a steer­ing box for an A-reg VW Polo, but my call went unan­swered for five min­utes. Even­tu­ally, a mono­syl­labic man picked up the phone, ex­plain­ing that he had heard the phone but had been at the other end of the yard burning the rub­ber in­su­la­tion off a load of cop­per wire.

He said he thought that there might be a Polo in one of the stacks but he wasn’t sure, and it would prob­a­bly be eas­i­est if I just came round and had a look my­self. I made a pro­vi­sional book­ing and my taxi de­posited me out­side Rheged’s mod­est cor­ru­gated iron and barbed wire-clad premises the next af­ter­noon.

I saw a mem­ber of staff who was at­tempt­ing to wrench open the bon­net of a crashed Seat Al­ham­bra, and I asked him to carry my suit­cases up to re­cep­tion. He looked at me and mut­tered some­thing un­der his breath be­fore turn­ing round and con­tin­u­ing to wres­tle with the bent met­al­work. Note to self: No tip for him!

My first im­pres­sions hadn’t been good, and things didn’t im­prove when I stepped into the re­cep­tion area - an old ship­ping con­tainer sup­ported on bricks. The man­age­ment no doubt claim it’s a case of shabby chic, but to me it ap­peared far more the for­mer than the lat­ter. There were at least three dif­fer­ent mis­matched car­pets strewn across the floor, all of which were filthy and cov­ered in black, oily boot­prints.

To his credit, the manager was very friendly, kick­ing his oily al­sa­tian re­peat­edly in the head to stop it bark­ing at me while he went off to find the par t I was af­ter. I was keen to in­spect the bath­room fa­cil­i­ties, so I asked him to di­rect me to the near­est toi­let. “For a piss, we usu­ally just go be­hind one of the stacks,” he told me. “But if it’s a shit you’re af­ter there’s an old por­taloo in the cor­ner of the yard.”

Af­ter be­ing quoted £50 for my steer­ing box, I had been hop­ing for an en suite loo. I cer­tainly wasn’t ex­pect­ing to have to walk twenty yards through a sea of oily mud and past an­other two chained up dogs go­ing men­tal in or­der to spend a penny.


The in­side of the toi­lets took my breath away, but not in a good way. In fact, with no op­er­at­ing flush, no lava­tory pa­per, no hand wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties and just a length of dowel to poke the flap open to let the waste drop through, I’d frankly be hard pressed to of­fer the Rheged Mo­tor Dis­man­tlers toi­lets any­thing more than one star at best.

By the time I’d fin­ished and was ready to check out, the manager was back with my steer­ing box. I handed him my Amer­i­can Ex­press card but he handed it straight back. “Sorry love, cash only,” he told me.

This scrap­yard may be set amongst some of Eng­land’s most spec­tac­u­lar scenery, but the ser­vice I re­ceived was far from spe­cial.

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