Casefile 2: Rheged Motor Dismantlers , Penrith
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.
ALEX’S STAR RATING:
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.