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The first ever purpose built, domestically integrated garage in England was a two-story extension to a house belonging to a doctor, Doctor Barrett, who lived in Lancashire in the year of 1898. This garage was connected to the house so that it could be accessed without leaving the confines of the building, important for all weathers. Also, for the wellbeing of the cars, the garage was connected to the house’s central heating, to ensure the cars did not become damp. the garage also had a pit, so Dr Barrett could access the engine, which after the 1890’s, were largely mounted on the underside of the car, unlike the earliest of motor-vehicles, which usually had the engine exposes to the rear. The need for pits became apparent, and many wealthy car owners, when building garaging for their cars, subsequent to Dr Barrett incorporated pits into their vehicle houses.
Garages originated from the first car owners and these were often wealthy middle class people. These people usually had previously owned horse and carriage before hand, and would therefore have coach houses. There was little problem in replacing the carriage with a motor vehicle, or “the horseless carriage”, and these were the first domestic garages. Throughout the beginning of the 20th century, through to 1914, conversion of coachhouses for housing of motor vehicles was the most popular way of housing cars. This conversion consisted of concreting the floor, to avoid damp and to hold the heavier vehicles, then adding a pit, for mechanical reasons, and adding heating throughout the building, and finally replacing the doors. However, for many who owned cars, prior to the great war, the only new issue about owning a motorcar was the housing of the fuel, benzene as it was called then. Just as horses needed stabling, fuel needed storing, and here arose the petrol storage, often situated far away from the motor vehicle and anything of value, due to it’s highly flammable nature. Purpose built housing was rare, and often only found in country houses that were newly built or that had had extensive rebuild projects. These often incorporated workshops for mechanics and generators and washing shelters, as well as chauffeur accommodation.
By the early 1900s, a second hand car market was arising, allowing for middle-classes to indulge in the motoring craze. Many suburban houses with small stables or a driveway of sorts were converted to house vehicles and many built their own small motor houses, which continued up until around 1918, when commercial garage building started to take off.
Motorcars were a thing of the future, and for many urban areas, garaging was not already part of their infrastructure, so many were designed and added on to houses. Throughout the 20th century, cars became more and more accessible to the masses, therefore more and more storage was needed.
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