A Blast From The Past – Paddock Tools

Interested in Paddock Spares’ history? Here’s a blast from the past that we recently found hiding in our office.  Car Mechanics magazine came and paid us a visit back in 1997. They came to look at the tool side of our business (Paddock Tools) that we had in operation at the time.  A lot has changed over the years but some of the people you’ll see in the photos are still here, including myself (Rob) looking a young, 22 years old in the picture and now having just celebrated my 40th birthday!  Hope you enjoy the read as much as we have.

Our regular customers might be interested in a little Paddock Spares history.  Here’s the article in full.

If, like most of us, you like your workshop tools and equipment to be good quality but competitively priced and readily available, you could do a lot, lot worse than become a regular customer of Derbyshire specialists Paddock Tools. As a glance through their catalogue will confirm, Paddock stock a very wide range of useful gear…

Parts from Paddock Tools

Although Paddock were founded in 1975 (as a Land-Rover buying/selling business) their present ‘incarnation’ dates back to 1980 when Glenys and Alan Wright (who still run Paddock along with son Rob) started advertising and selling a few Land-Rover and Range Rover spares from home – as a logical offshoot and extension from their main business. However, the spares business, called Paddock Spares and Accessories, soon proved to be far more profitable and vehicle sales quickly took a back seat before being discontinued completely in favour of parts.

From the start Paddock supplied a healthy mix of original-equipment and aftermarket parts – though their OE was, and still is, discounted. As you’d expect for a firm based in rural Derbyshire, Paddock soon built up a good local customer base, but from the start they sold the majority of parts by mail order – this gave them sufficient throughput to get worthwhile quantity discounts from their suppliers. Today around 80% of what leaves Paddock’s Matlock premises does so by mail-order; four carriers call to collect ‘goods out’ every day. Paddock cater for all Land-Rover products from the Series II up to the latest model Range Rover. (they leave most exclusively Series I stuff to others) and send parts all over the world. They employ eighteen staff. Wherever possible, customers are offered a choice between OE and good quality aftermarket parts, though some things – repair panels for example – are generally available only in the aftermarket.

However, Car Mechanics readers are probably more interested in the tools side of the business – known, not surprisingly, as Paddock Tools, though equipment and tools is probably a more accurate description! This is recent offshoot started in 1993/4 -but has exactly the same business philosophy as the Land-Rover spares -no-nonsense mail order, high turnover, good quality and competitive prices. They achieve the last two by sourcing products worldwide and buying direct (in quantity, rather than through agents. The best-selling lines at present are axle stands and engine cranes, of which dozens go out each week. Hardly surprising when a one tonne crane costs £195 and for more serious/trade work, there’s a two-tonne version for £245.

They also offer an engine stand (complete with the more stable “H’ section base) for just £42 – we have a sample on test and will report our findings very soon. They also stock and supply a wide range of SIP welding and air equipment – compressors and tools.

The whole range is covered by the Paddock Tools catalogue, a new, bigger edition of which has just been published and is available free of charge. Paddock wouldn’t claim that this is in any way a ‘flash’ publication – it’s photocopied and all mono. However, it does give all the information needed in a clear, no-nonsense and easy-to-follow way, and list a truly wonderful range of goods! Well, well worth getting hold of. Don’t miss the back two pages – these contain Paddock’s ‘£1 Bargains’ – handy, cheap tools and no delivery charge if they’re ordered with other things.

Unusually these days, all Paddock tool catalogue prices include VAT- so the price you see is the price you pay – with only carriage on top. Delivery has to be extra as that varies according to the size/weight of parcel, how urgently it’s required and where it’s going – even in the UK some places are harder to reach and thus dearer than others. As I mentioned a moment ago, four different carriers are used – Parcel Force, ANC, Interlink and Royal Mail; Paddock know who is best for all situations and overnight delivery is possible in a vehicle offf-road situation, or where parts are needed urgently or some other reason. Alternatively there are low-cost (but slower) options for stuff which isn’t required immediately.

Ordering couldn’t be simpler. You can write in or fax, but most people phone so they can be advised on availability and the best delivery option. Payment can be by cheque or credit card number. The only problem can be getting through, even with six phone lines. They’re often very busy…

Although the majority of customers order by phone (and pay by credit card) Paddock certainly do sell over the counter. There was a queue all the time that I was there. It’s not just locals either – on numerous occasions Glenys (who tends to start work early and finish late…) has arrived to find an overseas customer sleeping in a car in the car park, having come off the plane or ferry the previous evening and driven straight down to collect some parts. Some call during their annual holiday, but a surprising number come to Britain purely to visit Paddock and collect workshop equipment or parts for a restoration. Land-Rovers are in service all over the world!

Talking of holidays, I really cannot report this visit without mentioning the location compared with some trade visits I’ve done, getting to and from Paddocks was sheer bliss! Matlock is right in the heart of the Peak District National Park – a truly beautiful part of Britain with lots to do in the season and which really does deserve to be better known. It even looked appealing on the cold, wet day I visited in early February! It’s accessible too – less than half an hour from Nottingham. A good opportunity to combine a family day out (or long weekend away?) with collecting some new workshop gear – if you’re buying a lot the saving of carriage charges could well pay for an overnight stay.

However, if you are visiting Paddock for the first time I do advise phoning first for some directions. They aren’t that difficult to find (on the A6l5 just outside Matlock) but their premises are somewhat hidden, not easily seen from the road and it’s a great help to know exactly where on that road they are. They used to have a nice, very visible sign on the premises saying ‘Paddock Land Rover and Range Rover Spares’. Now it just says Paddock and isn’t anything like as visible.

The reason? They were asked, by solicitors acting for Rover group, to take the other half down because they sell spares for Land Rovers and Range Rovers, not Land Rover and Range Rover spares, and Rover consider the difference worth taking legal action over.

Rather pointless of course, but as regular Car Mechanics readers know already, Paddock are by no means the only independent specialist to have come in for this unwelcome attention which, at the end of the day, will benefit no-one at all…