THE new owner of a rural service station has swapped his daily commute into Houston for a more leisurely drive to Aysgarth.

A native of Sunderland, Stephen Jack the new owner of the Aysgarth Garage spent 13 years in Merchant Navy then worked in the oil and gas industry. Several years ago he got itchy feet due to the changing nature of the business. On hearing Aysgarth Garage was for sale it sparked his interest in a rural enterprise.

He explained: “My dad was evacuated to West Witton during the war and I spent a number of holidays here as a child.

“I was looking for an alternative, I thought about starting a business but this had the potential and was just what I was looking for.”

The garage which sells petrol, has an automotive repair and vehicle hire along with a shop that doubles as the village store. It employs three full-time and two part time staff at the moment and Mr Jack is looking to expand the business.

He said: “I have a real passion of the classic cars; I have two on a ship from the USA. I’m currently doing up a 1958 TR3A; that is where I see the business going.

“As a local business, the shop is very important, although I do need to modernise some of the processes particularly in relation to stock control. I try to keep prices down and use local produce and label items for allergies.”

His journey to work is slightly more leisurely than his 45 minute drive down an eight-lane freeway in Huston and he says, he has packed away all his shorts.

Petrol prices are something Mr Jack wishes to revisit, as the postcode does not qualify for the government subsidy. He adds that he has been made very welcome and as a season ticket holder at Sunderland FC once the business settles, he hopes to attend more matches.