Maldon Archive
Keeping the Past Alive


Robert & Leslie Orth - Orth's Garage (R.L. Orth & Sons Limited Motor Engineers)

The business of R.L. Orth & Sons Limited was not incorporated into a Limited liability company until 16th December 1965. However, its origins go way back to 1914 when at the age of 15 Reginald Leslie Orth started an apprenticeship at the workshop of Joseph Payne coachbuilder of 2 Spital Road Maldon. The workshop can only be described as an old barn with a lean to at the rear of the Ware Pond.  The main entrance and the Payne family home being adjacent to Wentworth House on the corner of Spital Road - London Road and opposite Dominic Finn’s dental surgery. After his apprenticeship was completed and on the retirement of Joseph Payne the business was taken over by Reg who continued there for a number of years. 
On Thursday 30th April 1925 Reg married a Lilian Cooper a Heybridge girl at St Andrew’s Church Heybridge, who he met at a dance in the Corporation hall High Street, Maldon the previous year.


The following year on Tuesday 2nd March 1926 their first son Leslie was born. Their second son Robert was born on Thursday 19th February 1931. In May 1927 Reg purchased some land in New Street Maldon adjacent to the Maldon cattle and livestock market, a smallholding and allotments, what is known today as the Whitehorse car park where the remains of the business are located. The Whitehorse car park being built in 1964. When the workshop and “Silsoe” (Fairfield Chase) the family home was completed Reg diversified into general engineering of and the repair of Petrol vehicles. As can be seen from family photographs both boys were helping out around the garage as soon as they could walk. Reg had a love of anything operated by steam and built an outside model railway in their garden for the boys and their friends this continued until the late 1949. 

A year later he was asked whether he would build and operate a steam locomotive in the valley of the promenade Maldon which he maintained and operated with the boys from 1954 until 1976.In June 1940 Les left school and went straight to work for his father until he was called up in 1944 and joined the RAF. Bob left school in May 1945 and again went to work for the family business until he was called up for RAF national service in April 1949. After the boys stint in the armed forces they returned to Maldon to help their father run the business.  In 1952 they won a contract with  the local authority for the delivery of school meals these were prepared at Heybridge School (Wave Bridge) and were delivered to Tollesbury, Totham and Goldhanger until 1961. 

After the boys stint in the armed forces they returned to Maldon to help their father run the business.  In 1952 they won a contract with  the local authority for the delivery of school meals these were prepared at Heybridge School (Wave Bridge) and were delivered to Tollesbury, Totham and Goldhanger until 1961. 

In 1955 Reg came across a Garrett Steam engine abandoned in a field in Lincoln this he transported back to Maldon where he and his two sons renovated and nursed her back to show room condition and was completed in 1959 and christened Crimson Lady. Most Maldonians of a certain age will remember her leading every carnival and Bob would have her running every Christmas Eve.  Sadly because of Bob’s old age he sold Crimson Lady in 1991.

Reg passed away on Wednesday 2nd October 1974 aged 75, Les on Wednesday 11th December 1996 aged 70 and Bob on Sunday 12th December 2004 aged 73.   

The garage was demolished between Tuesday 29th July and Friday 1st August 2014.