The company was founded in Eastbourne in 1865. In 1912 they took over the garage and engineering business of V Cooke & Co at De La Warr Mews behind Station Road in Bexhill. These buildings included the Bexhill Assembly Room of the late 1880s. In 1926 they bought 42-4 Devonshire Road (now ‘Iceland’) as showrooms which they used until 1932. In 1924/25 the buildings were extended to form the largest garage in Bexhill by covering the former open yard to the north with an exuberant entrance in the very latest architectural fashion of Art Deco.
The Bexhill workshops in 1943 included work repairing RAF vehicles for the Civilian Repair Organisation.
The workshops were further extended in 1961. In 1976 Caffyns took over Henlys garage and showrooms at 66/68 Sackville Road followed by a commercial vehicle depot previously owned by Wadham Stringer in 1979. This was closed in 1981. The Station Road site was closed in 1980, the manager at this time being Frederick Chapman.
In 1982 they bought premises in King Offa Way previously owned by Joe Davis and opened the premises in 1983. The manager in the later 1980s was Keith Rose followed by Dennis Bowtell in May 1990. The branch was closed in November 1991 and the site sold in March 1992 and, in 2016, became the “Sussex Bed Centre”.
The gallery below shows images of the various premises used by Caffyn’s Company over the years – see the notes that following for interesting images of “Caffyn’s Cars” in the early years.
CAF-001 – Cooke & Company’s buildings in De La Warr Mews off Station Road, Bexhill c.1913.
CAF-002 – Garage interior thought to be Cooke & Co’s premises.
CAF-003 – View of Coach-building Shop, Marine Parade
CAF-004 – Bexhill Carnival procession (in July 1925) shown passing Caffyn’s premises in Station Road. Notice the open yard to the left.
CAF-005 – Advertisements from the Bexhill Observer August 1928 showing the new Art Deco entrance to the now covered yard and the interior of the showroom at 44 Devonshire Road.
CAF-006 – Gala Week vehicle procession in Station Road, July 1934 showing Caffyn’s garage entrance often mistaken for a cinema.
CAF-007 – The King Offa Way premises after closure in 1991 described as 0.8acres, petrol filling station, workshops 5,300sq ft, car showrooms 7,500sq ft plus parking areas.
CAF-008 – Interior view of mechanics workshop in Caffyn’s – Marine Parade premises, Eastbourne c1912.
CAF-009 – 1940s view of the Station Road premises seen from the entrance to the railway goods yard.
CAF-010 – Morris House when it was part of the Caffyn’s empire in the 1970s
ACF-011 – King Offa Way site of workshops, petrol forecourt and car showrooms in the early 1980s
CAF-012 – Late 1980s views of Caffyns Ltd King Offa Way garage.
The following gallery illustrates how, in the early years of motoring, it was quite normal to buy a chassis and engine from a main manufacturer and then have the bodywork added by a local coachworks to your own specification. These images are taken from a Caffyn’s catalogue of c1912 and show various types and combinations.
CAF-013 – Miller and Franklin van c.1912 supplied by Caffyn’s. This was a department store comprising china & glass merchant, drapers, house furnishings, upholsterers and ladies outfitters and milliners. They occupied premises on both corners of St Leonards and Wilton Roads nos. 39-41 & 43 and traded between 1911 and 1939.
CAF-014 – Standard Cabriolet – All-weather body
CAF-015 – Standard flush-sided Torpedo (with Hood and Screen)
CAF-016 – Single Landaulette (Special design – Light Body)
CAF-017 – Special flush-sided Torpedo (with one-man Hood and adjustable Screen)
CAF-018 – Standard Three-quarter Landaulette
CAF-019 – Landaulette – Special Design (with concealed head fittings giving the handsome appearance of a “Limousine” when closed)
CAF-020 – Light Torpedo Cabriolet (all-weather body)
CAF-021 – Pianoforte Van (Special low construction)
CAF-022 – Shooting Brake (with Drop Curtains – Special Design)
CAF-023 – “De Luxe” – Cabriolet (all-weather body – special design)
CAF-024 – “De Luxe” Torpedo (with one-man Hood and adjustable screen)
CAF-025 – Two sided Coupe (De Luxe Model – Inside driving)
CAF-026 – Two-seated Torpedo (with Hood and Adjustable screen)