ONE of Swindon's oldest garages has been knocked down.

The former Hartwell Ford garage in Marlborough Road has been demolished, making way for town houses and flats.

It marks an end to a century of car servicing on the site.

Permission has been granted to developers to build 28 town houses and 32 flats, costing a total of £3.5m, where the garage once stood.

As reported last year, the town's other Hartwell site in Fleming Way was demolished to make way for a similar project.

Swindon Council gave developers the green light to build 72 flats, made up of 69 two-bedroom and three one-bedroom apartments, along with 70 parking spaces on the site.

Councillors said the four-storey building - which includes 11 affordable housing flats - was essential to the redevelopment of the town centre.

The garage has not always traded under the Hartwell name.

On February 11, 1922 Harry Preater opened Swindon's first Ford dealership in Fleming Way.

It was then known as Preaters but in 1962 it became Walker Jackson - run by Colin Jackson and Major Peter Walker and his brother, Sir James Walker.

It amalgamated several other branches of the firm, including the Enterprise Garage and Faringdon Engineering.

After March 1984, when it was bought up by Allied Lyons, the name Walker Jackson remained.

When Allied Lyons sold it on in March 1992 it then became Cowie Arriva.

In 1998 Hartwell Ford took over the dealership.

At its peak the company employed about 150 people.

In 2003 the company was the nation's fourth largest supplier of Ford products in the UK with a turnover of more than £800m in 2002.

But its long-term future was in doubt a year later as staff at the Fleming Way and Marlborough Road sites were told to expect job cuts.

As previously reported, Allen Ford, which currently operates 11 Ford dealer businesses in the UK, has taken over the Hartwell business.

It launched its first Wiltshire dealership in the Sir Norman Foster-designed Spectrum building, in West Swindon in May.