FOR centuries, craftsmen in Oxfordshire played a vital role in the countryside providing goods and services which were essential to the efficient functioning of the local community.

In 1899, Lorenzo Lloyd, aged 21, leased and later bought the coachbuilders and wheelwrights business in Portway, Wantage.

Lorenzo, who had been born at Christian Malford, Wiltshire, was the second son of Lorenzo and Jane Lloyd of Lyneham.

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His father was also a coachbuilder and wheelwright. Lorenzo jnr was a keen organist and became church organist at Lyneham when he was 16.

Whilst he was at Wantage he became organist at Grove Parish Church for 39 years.

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He was also organist at Fawley and played at Ardington, Lockinge, Hendred and Denchworth.

In 1895, he married Elizabeth Kate Hodges and the couple would have two sons Arthur (Arty) and Frederick (Fred).

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Much of the early business was concerned with the making and repairing of farm wagons, light horse drawn vehicles and farm implements.

For example in 1903 Lorenzo repaired a wagonette for the Lockinge Estate and a cart for the Archer-Houblon family.

As horse-drawn traffic subsided so did the traditional role of the wheelwright.

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The coach building side of the Lloyd business was able to adapt more easily to the new forms of transport.

In the 1920s, a Mr Grundy was impressed with the work done to his car in 1929, as was Mr Robertson in 1938 whose car had been in an accident.

By the time Lloyd’s sons started working for the family business, much of the work was in repairing lorries or car body work used in vehicles.

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Arty started work for the family firm aged 14 in 1916, whilst his brother was away serving in the Army.

Both brothers were working for the firm in the 1920s and a new blacksmith’s shop was built.

Arty was also a painter and signwriter and his painting of Lloyds in its heyday has recently been presented to the Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage where it can be seen in the Lloyds display in the barn.

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During the Second World War, Fred was a member of the Royal Observer Corps and Arty a special constable.

Their father Lorenzo died in 1947.

The firm’s location in the town put them in an ideal position to take on smaller jobs such as repairing prams, garden machinery or repainting bicycles.

The business remained in the family changing and evolving with the twentieth century until Arty died.