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Bowman Brothers Garage at Shelfhanger near Diss to close

PUBLISHED: 14:00 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:20 28 September 2018

From left: Paul Bowman, Alan Bowman and Don Bowman. Picture: Marc Betts

From left: Paul Bowman, Alan Bowman and Don Bowman. Picture: Marc Betts

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A popular garage is closing after serving its community for nearly 40 years.

Alan Bowman. Picture: Marc BettsAlan Bowman. Picture: Marc Betts

The Bowman Brothers garage in Shelfanger, near Diss, dates back to the late 1800s when it was originally a pub, stables and blacksmith.

Now its current owners are shutting up shop after an attempt to sell the garage fell through after confusion over who owned the land.

Brothers, Paul, 80, John, 73, Don, 68 and Alan Bowman, 66, took over the garage in 1979, when fuel was just 23p a litre, and have run it ever since.

They had been trying to sell the premises for five years so they could retire but a buyer dropped out at the last minute meaning the garage will close on Saturday, September 29.

The fuel pumps at the Bowman Brothers Garage. Picture: Marc BettsThe fuel pumps at the Bowman Brothers Garage. Picture: Marc Betts

Alan Bowman said: “It’s mixed feelings. I would have carried on but my brothers are too old and I can’t run it alone.

“I’m looking forward to spending time with my five grandchildren though.

“It’s all so sad. A lot people keep coming in and think we are joking. They are not customers, we got to know them as friends.”

The garage is one of the only stations left that puts fuel in customers car’s for them.

Alan Bowman. Picture: Marc BettsAlan Bowman. Picture: Marc Betts

Mr A Bowman added: “I don’t know how many cars we have sold over the years but we used to sell two or three a week. It’s a shame though really.”

The brothers believe the buyer dropped out after the Norfolk County Council became involved in the deal.

There was dispute over forecourt as to whether the brothers owned it. They say the county council were not able to give a clear indication of who did.

Mr A Bowman added: “We don’t blame the council because they are doing their job but with what is on the land and what they say, we have heard many different versions.

“One minute they own, then we own the surface, then there’s a right of way over it - that’s what scared the buyer off.”

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said “In response to an informal enquiry about the potential use of land, our research showed the site to be on public land and therefore subject to restrictions which are set down in national law.”

The remaining cars at the garage will be sold off or auctioned. Motorists must travel to Attleborough or Diss for fuel.

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