Hornsey Automatic Transmissions

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Harry Moran,

Hornsey Automatic Transmissions Ltd

By Laura Braun

Hornsey Automatic Transmissions trades in new and used automatic car transmissions, in fixing, refurbishing and fitting them. The business, with its rounded window lovingly displaying transmissions and parts, is on the corner of Stapleton Hall and Stroud Green Roads. It has been going since 1969, when it was founded by Mr Martin. Although retired, he still spends a few days a week at the office and workshop.

Harry Moran is not the owner of Hornsey Automatic Transmissions, but he is so much a part of the business that it felt appropriate to have him represent it. He is the car mechanic here, the man who takes out the old transmissions and fits the new ones.

Now in his 40s, Harry has been at Hornsey Automatic Transmissions since he was a teenager. There have been breaks when he worked as a mechanic for high-street chain garages, and when he went travelling for a few years to Spain and South America. But for the past ten years he has been back at Hornsey Automatic Transmissions, replacing transmission after transmission.

Although he takes pride in his work and enjoys it, there are niggles of frustration when he speaks about the way things have changed. He lifts his hands helplessly as he talks about how, in the newer models of cars, so much is controlled by sealed-off electronic elements to which only the manufacturer has access, leaving him too far removed from the workings of the machine to give him much satisfaction in his job.

Although his hands and overalls, black with grease, and the array of tools in the garage still speak of hands-on work, he talks nostalgically of the pleasure derived from the physical manipulation of the material.

Harry Moran

Hornsey Automatic Transmissions Ltd

1 Stapleton Hall Road

Stroud Green

London N4 3QE

Photographed January 2011

Métier, Small Businesses in London, is a book by photographer Laura Braun about small-scale independent and specialist businesses in the capital and the people who run them.

Available from 3 December 2013

Available from Paper Tiger Books