It all started with James Parker who set up in business as a blacksmith in 1879 in Longpool, Kendal.
James fabricated ploughs as they specialised in wrought iron work and agricultural machinery.
One of his ploughs was at the Plough Inn at Selside 100 years later so they were obviously well made.
The image to the left was taken in 1916 and shows James Parker outside the premises (third from the right at the back), with his son Lancelot Steele (middle with eye patch) and the rest of the staff.
Lancelot Steele was known as Kit to his friends and he was the one who changed the direction of the business towards motor vehicles.
This change of direction started with Motorbikes.
As mentioned, Kit started with Motorbikes, his main passion being Scott.
Kit regularly competed in motorcycle trials to test his modifications.
It is said that his modified bikes were faster round the TT but whether this is legend or fact we do not know.
He patented several modifications for the Scott Bikes and had a personal relationship with Alfred Scott.
They also sold and worked on other brands of motorcycles including:
This love of engines defined the generation of the Parker family and as the years developed, they moved from two wheels to three and then eventually the four that we now know and love.
Circa 1920, Kit installed the second petrol pump in Westmorland.
The first filling station in the UK was only opened in 1919 so this made Kit a very early adopter.
The pump pictured left was still in use in the early 60’s.
Kit expanded into other forms of transport, notably the Scott Sociable three wheeler.
Sadly it is said that Alfred Scott contracted Pneumonia from which he died after driving one of these back from a day out potholing.
The Parker family progressed into four wheels taking the Jowett franchise in 1923 for cars and commercials.
Javelin which was a luxury saloon - Jupiter which was a sports car were the last models. They both had four cylinder engines with the same horizontally opposed configuration. Sadly Jowett went out of business in 1954.
Between 1923 and 1953, we also had periods as agents for Riley, Standard, Ford and Lloyd.
In the first World War, Kit and the team engineered 60,000 fuse caps for shells at Longpool and in the second World War they were subcontracted for Gilbert Gilkes and Vickers and undertook a variety of work for the Ministry of Supply.
Sadly Kit passed away in 1955, just prior to our link up with Porsche in 1957.
Kits son, Jim joined the business in the late 1940’s having served in the merchant navy.
Jim shared Kit’s passion for motor vehicles, engineering and of course, VW and Porsche.
In 1952 the company changed to Parker & Parker Ltd, they secured the VW franchise in 1953 with the first years allocation being four cars.
Jim was open to new technologies and installed a cutting edge service bay in 1958, which must have looked quite something when compared with most workshops at the time.
Jim secured the Porsche franchise in 1957.
Pictured is our showroom in 1965 and you can see our Irish Green 356 SC demonstrator & a new 356C in Dove Grey in the showroom.
These were our last 356’s as they were replaced by the 911.
Attached to the old dealership were cottages which you can just see on the left of the photo.
Porsche showed a LHD 911 at the 1963 London Motor Show, that car was bought by Sorjo Ranta.
We handed over our first new 911 from the pictured premises in 1965.
To spread the word about the brand, Jim became involved in the Porsche Club – regionally and nationally and would attend and run many club events at the dealership.
You can see a video of a drive out from 1966 by the Porsche Club around our area, whith both Jim and a young Ian in attendance, via the link below.
As volumes grew, the building became too small so planning went in for a new showroom, further expanding Longpool beyond what had been done before.
Sadly we don’t have many images of the 1967 development.
As the business grew, it allowed Jim to indulge in his passion for driving.
He entered hill climbs in a 911 which he had modified himself for more power
In the late 60’s he obtained a 904, previously owned by Stirling Moss, which he hill climbed extensively.
During this period of expansion, Jim’s sons Colin, Roy and Ian joined the business.
Colin joined the business in 1966 straight from school, on the Service side of the business.
Colin shared the driving of the 904 at hillclimbs.
Ian joined in 1972, starting on the Sales side. He worked at a local accountants and Barclays before.
Roy trained as an accountant and gained experience in two other businesses in Preston before joining in 1979.
In 1982 Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, presented Jim with an award for 25 years as a dealer.
The award was presented at the British Motor Show Porsche dealer lunch.
Excitement in 1982 when the 944 was launched.
Practically a 924 with a much increased performance and a silky smooth engine and was an instant success.
The announcement of the 944 gave us the confidence to build a standalone showroom for Porsche – essentially splitting Porsche and VW.
For the first time we were able to display the whole Porsche model range, fitting five or six cars into the showroom.
In the 90's we decided to focus on Porsche and VW, so we decided not to continue with the Audi franchise in the early 90's.
The 90's also saw the introduction of the 993, 993 Turbo, 968 and of course the Boxster, which was a revolution in 1996.
The worldwide launch was in Arizona USA with huge smiles all round from the attendees.
The Boxster was a massive success from launch and gave us volume to the business.
In 1997 we made the decision to part from VW and become a solus Porsche business and developed the site accordingly, another development along the way to becoming PCSL.
This decade started in an interesting way, to say the least with a cow falling through our roof.
That’s right… a cow through our roof!
Ian was at a meeting in Reading, calling the garage hoping for some good news.
Now it was April, however, on checking it wasn’t 1 April he quickly came to realise the perils of having an auction mart located close to your business!
Whilst it wasn’t without it’s challenges, thankfully the rest of the decade was slightly more normal.
We completed our showroom development in 2001. The new showroom allowed us to display seven cars which would come in pretty handy.
Workshops at Stockbeck were sold and everything was brought onto one site at Longpool. This was a four bay workshop. Porsche asked the question "why have you built it so big?".
It was the revolutions decade for the Porsche model range with Cayenne, Cayman and Panamera. Not forgetting the evolution of the brand, it was a massively important decade for the 911 too.
The Cayenne was without a doubt the biggest change in our range which split opinion initially. Cayenne has been the best seller worldwide, every year since it’s introduction so the gamble paid off.
Later in the decade we saw a face lift, which improved the looks and engine choice, ultimately a model change in 2010.
The launch was in Sardinia and it hugely impressed on and off track. We asked how have they made it handle like a sports car?
Cayenne was essential as it’s success has allowed the factory to continue to develop amazing sports cars.
Something more revolutionary – the Panamera took us into a new market segment.
Although a Saloon, the Turbo was a second slower than an F430 around the ring, putting it on the map for performance.
Panamera can accommodate four 6ft people and four cases. An amazing all rounder.
In 2005, Simon joined the business after graduating at university having studied business and marketing.
He had some previous Porsche experience as seen in the pictures below.
Not many people can say that their first car was a LeMans winning Porsche 936, even if it was a miniature.
New Porsche models were well received and as volume grew, it meant we needed more space again.
In 2008 we were granted permission for the new development as seen below.
Early on in the 2010's we renewed our desire to redevelop Longpool as previously planned.
Around the introduction of 991 (2011) and 981 (2012), the market was recovering and it was obvious Longpool would be too small.
When the Macan was launched in 2014, it was a huge success. At this point it was clear that we would need to plan for much bigger volumes.
Ian and Simon had been attending the Gen II 991 launch when we got some unnerving news – Kendal was flooding! This was during the large Storm Desmond that rocked the UK in 2015.
It proved very tricky to find a site we were happy with, in terms of accessibility and visibility, within the local area.
In 2015 we found a site just outside of Kendal and progressed the development along with many other businesses. Planning passed but at the 11th hour the landowner pulled out. We were back to square one.
In 2016 we identified another site not too far from Kendal, which looked very viable – this ended up being blocked by the planners.
We found our current site in 2017 and started with the planning application, and again we didn’t have much luck with the planners as, initially they recommended the scheme for refusal.
Following many sleepless nights and discussions with the planners, we obtained planning permission in April 2018, assuming we could get building in June.
It took us two years to discharge the planning conditions and eventually we thought we were there. We almost couldn’t believe it, three years after finding the site, we could start building on site in June 2020 and completed within days of the expected timeframe.
Porsche Centre South Lakes gave us space for 15-18 cars, a six-bay workshop plus MOT and alignment, better parking and overall a much better facility for customers and staff.
Longpool site was 0.95 acre, the new site is two acres with a spare acre for development in the future. Proof that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again!
Without a doubt the biggest project in the history of our company. We did all the planning and management in house and relied heavily on our Centre team keeping things running while Ian and Simon were here there and everywhere at various site meetings.
We moved in July 2021.
As per the spirit of Kit and Jim, as all of our development challenges were going on. Porsche were busy looking at the next motoring frontier so to speak.
We’ve had hybrid vehicles since the 2010 Cayenne Hybrid but 2019 brought the launch of the Taycan.
The first all electric Porsche, but not the first using electric in Porsche's history. Between 1900-1905 they had the Lohner-Porsche, the first hybrid vehicle which was ahead of it’s time.
Seems fitting that around a century after Kit installed an early petrol pump that we turned on one of the areas first superfast chargers.
Porsche has given the Parker family an enormous amount of fun over the years. We have a lot of wonderful customers many of who have become friends.
We have a great team working for us and are in a fantastic place for what is in store for Porsche in the coming years – lots to look forward to.
*Data determined in accordance with the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) as required by law. You can find more information on WLTP at www.porsche.com/wltp . For Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) range and Equivalent All Electric Range (EAER) figures are determined with the battery fully charged, using a combination of both battery power and fuel.
Values are provided for comparison only. To the extent that fuel and energy consumption or CO₂ values are given as ranges, these do not relate to a single, individual car and do not constitute part of the offer. Optional features and accessories can change relevant vehicle parameters such as weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics which may result in a change in fuel or energy consumption and CO₂ values. Vehicle loading, topography, weather and traffic conditions, as well as individual driving styles, can all affect the actual fuel consumption, energy consumption, electrical range, and CO₂ emissions of a car.
** Important information about the all-electric Porsche models can be found here