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William Lyle: The Founder
The future for Lyles of Newcastle:
2012 heralded a new chapter in the long history of the company when it was sold upon the retirement of Brian Lyle. The company purchased by Lorraine Smith and Ian Dodsworth in 2112 will continue with the help and dedication of the long established team that customers have come to know over many years. The company will continue to trade as Lyles of Newcastle Limited and customers can be assured that the high level of customer service will continue. So rest assured, if you have a classic Alfa Romeo or one of the new models 159, Brera, Guilietta or MiTo we are here to help by providing an affordable, dependable service with the same passion that you have for your own Alfa Romeo.
Its founder, William Lyle, was born in Kelso, Scotland, and came to the North East with his parents who travelled from Scotland looking for work during the depression of the 1930s. He first gained employment with C.S.Buists, who were Morris car agents at the time. Working through an apprenticeship, William eventually became Service Manager. After a few years he left to start his own business in a small workshop in Spital Tongues, part of the West End of Newcastle.
As the business grew he moved to larger premises in the Gallowgate area, where he serviced and repaired all makes of vehicles, many of his customers were drawn from the businesses in and around the city. Unfortunately, at the outbreak of the Second World War the Royal Air Force took over the premises, as they were required for storage. It was around this time William Lyle took a position in the Indian Army and served a number of years overseas. On his return he found and acquired new premises in Corporation Street, from where he could then rebuild his business once again. New cars were very rare in those days and the garage workshops had to rely on the repair and rebuild of the vehicles that had survived the wartime years. This enabled the business to grow rapidly and become one of Newcastle's leading repair shops.
Brian Lyle started working for his father as a mechanic and served for five years that covered all aspects of the motor trade, he also became a keen motorcycle enthusiast and spent many hours working and tuning his various motorcycles.
Most of the family holidays at the time were spent in Northern Italy where Brian developed a love of Italian engines. Through this he dealt and raced with many famous names linked with motorcycle racing, such as M.V.Agusta and Gilera.
Brian proved to be a success on the racing circuit, bringing home many trophies.
He continued to work in his fathers business as he competed on the racing circuit until he joined the Royal Air Force in which he served two years. On his return he decided to start to sell Alfa Romeo cars to which he had been introduced during the time spent in Italy. Lyles has no showroom; so Brian would fly down to Edgeware Road, London, buy the new car and drive it back to Newcastle where he sold it to the waiting client; this became a popular trip because new cars were scarce.
It is in this way that the Lyles enthusiasm for supplying new Alfa Romeos became known throughout the North. Eventually Lyles moved to premises with showroom facilities where they could display Alfa Romeos new product of the time, the much loved Alfasud. many reading this will remember the garage in Diana Street and will probably have been introduced to the marque at these premises. 1988 saw the relocation of Lyles to the West Road of Newcastle. Milano House as it was known at the time became the first Alfa Romeo solus site in the country to carry the new Italian corporate design for the marque.