This story only makes sense if we first explain the origin of Berrybrook Motors Ltd, the company under which Berrybrook Morgan and Berrybrook Steam & Classics can be found.
The story can be summarised as a case of family connections, hard work and of being in the right place at the right time. Sean, the Managing Director, explains the early beginnings of Berrybrook Motors Ltd…
“I left school at 15 and started selling Reliant three-wheelers and motorcycles with the family business. After this I began to specialise in Reliant, however when they ceased manufacture, sales started to drop and I made the move towards Morgan. I own a 1933 Morgan V-twin three-wheeler (pictured above with a younger Sean in the passenger seat) which my late grandfather, Jack (Tony) Anthony, bought in 1968 for £165. I inherited it in 1987.”
“The idea of selling Morgans first came to me whilst driving my three-wheeler in the late nineties. Something was needed to balance falling Reliant sales and so this seemed like a golden opportunity. I approached Morgan Motors and the local Morgan dealership, Phoenix Motors in Exeter. Much to my surprise the owner of Phoenix Motors, Mrs Miles, was about to retire and so I saw this as my opportunity to realise my ambition.”
“Mrs Miles knew my late grandfather through the three-wheeler and other dealings so she already was aware we had an interest in the world of Morgan. She said that she’d love us to take on the Morgan dealership if Morgan were happy for us to do so. In 2001 Berrybrook Motors Ltd began trading both new and used Morgans from our premises in the village of Exminster. To start with, Berrybrook Motors Ltd was financed by Bridge Motorcycles, as started by my grandfather in 1953. When my father, Barry Anthony, retired from Bridge Motorcycles a year or so later, he took Berrybrook Motors Ltd with him, allowing it to expand as an independent company.”
So far, this story is up to 2007 with Berrybrook Motors Ltd, a main agent for the Morgan Motor Company, doing well under management of father and son, Barry and Sean Anthony, after a separation from Bridge Motorcycles a few years earlier. Bridge Motorcycles is a still successful company today and was originally founded by Barry’s father, Jack Anthony. But where do Steam and Classics link into this?
As a lifelong car and motorcycle enthusiast, Jack Anthony also had another notable interest… and it was his late grandfather’s fascination with traction engines on the rally field which later prompted Sean to buy a 4″ Foster in the early 2000’s for private use. At first a hobby but later a business, and with Morgan doing well, the decision was made to branch out and so the ‘Berrybrook Steam’ subsidiary of Berrybrook Motors Ltd was born in the corner of the still operational Reliant workshop.
To begin with, our specialism was in the preparation and sale of miniature traction engines. Limited space meant only one or two engines would be in stock at any one time at the start. It took many years of building and hard work to grow Berrybrook Steam and as the business progressed in tandem with Berrybrook Morgan, we quickly expanded its portfolio to include the sale of full-size steam; notably starting with Burrell Showmans’ Road Locomotive ‘Star’.
Following several staff changes over the years, the sales front of Berrybrook Steam has been operated in recent years by both Sean and his eldest son, Matt, with a successful workshop taking on as much work as can be handled.
We have attended the Great Dorset Steam Fair every year for nearly 10 years as a trade stand. Aside from his responsibility at Berrybrook, Sean plays an active role in the organisation of the ‘steam sections’ at both the Powderham Historic Vehicle Gathering every July, and at the Devon County Show every May. On a personal front, alongside the growth of Berrybrook Steam and the help of two growing sons, Sean has by now owned a couple of miniature traction engines before achieving the lifelong goal of acquiring a traction engine of his own, Marshall 79441 of 1925 ‘Maverick’.
New Blood for a New Decade
Having had a fantastic decade or so of Berrybrook Steam, with the business continuing to gain positive repute and becoming a leading name in the sale of traction engines, the decision was made in 2019 to rebrand to Berrybrook Steam & Classics. This allows the team to tackle new challenges and deal, not only in steam engines, but in classic cars, motorcycles and related vintage vehicles. Not long after, in early 2020, Matt was announced as the newest Director of the company and is excited to now be running Berrybrook Steam & Classics full-time. He is pleased to be now growing the company’s portfolio and working hard to make sure we retain, and build on, our reputation as a trust-worthy family business which takes its customer satisfaction very seriously and is always happy to help. We hope to continue expanding with the more trade shows in the pipeline for 2021 and the largest, most dynamic range of stock we have ever had.
Matt (pictured below running one of our popular Traction Engine Experience Days) talks of his new appointment with pride and explains,
“I have always had a passion for steam engines and with classic vehicles, it is in the blood! I have spent much of my life in and out of the Berrybrook Workshops and have been brought up with it. After carrying out a life ambition of obtaining a degree, (I studied at the University of Plymouth in an unrelated but second passion of mine, Marine Biology) I have returned to the workshops and am excited about what the future holds. I think the thing that grips us all here is the unexpected and dynamic nature of the role. There are very few jobs where one moment you are producing a write-up for an ex-race motorcycle owned by a world-famous rider and the next moment answering a phone call regarding the reveal of some long-lost traction engine…”
Matt’s latest appointment as a Director makes him the fourth generation of the family to take leadership in a company history which stretches way back to when, in 1953, his great-grandfather, Jack Anthony, first started a company in the sale of motorcycles.