Peter Jewson

At 87 Peter Jewson has led a full and active life, not least in business.

Now at an age where many will have retired and put their feet up, Mr Jewson says business is what still fires him, and he continues to have a wide range of interests, including a long association with buying and selling cars as well as a commercial property portfolio.

“I enjoy doing it and I don’t find it particularly difficult if you use common sense and you are fair,” he said over the desk of the office at his home in Boars Hill, Oxford.

“It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and I shall die on the job.”

Mr Jewson’s story begins in Southend, where he was born and spent his early childhood with brother Stanley. His father owned a fleet of taxis called Luxicars.

He remembers former Prime Minister Neville Chamberalin announcing the declaration of war on September 3, 1939 on the radio and watching anti-aircraft fire aimed at German bombers off the coast, which he found exciting but which were to mean major upheaval for the family.

Instead of the boys being evacuated, the whole family uprooted to Oxford, along with Luxicars, the name of which still survives in the city to this day.

As a dyslexic, Mr Jewson attended Lathams Preparatory School in the city but achieved little. But a chance meeting with xylophone player Reggie Redcliffe led to a brief flirtation with showbusiness.

“I was about 15 and we toured everywhere. I was his assistant and Reggie did three Royal Command performances.”

But when his father was taken ill he had to come home.

“I became a mechanic, lying on my back under a Morris Oxford. But after six months I grew fed up and decided I would sooner drive a taxi, which was more money and more fun.”

Eventually he bought some premises on the Cowley Road with his brother and that became the site of his first garage, a Triumph dealership. By year two he was outselling the main regional distributor, who had given him the franchise but was now keen to withdraw it as a result.

“I got hold of the sales director at Standard Triumph and said: ‘Can I come and see you?’ I flew to see him in my aeroplane and he reversed the decision.”

Mr Jewson began to develop an interest in property and started buying houses in Iffley Road as they became vacant, extending his garage and building flats.

Then came the chance to buy a site in Kidlington, which led to him parting with Stanley.

Mercedes and Volvo dealerships followed and he even ran a BMW franchise in Luton, which was a success. Again someone tried to take it away from him and he stood firm.

“I will not be pushed around by the big people,” he said.

Family has always played a big role, no more so than now. A father-of-six, grandfather of 12 and great-grandfather of two, he is particularly involved in the work of daughter Vicky, a film-maker, who shot Lady Godiva in Oxford released her second production, Born of War, in 2014 followed by the movie Close in 2019.

But day-to-day he concentrates on property. Despite his assets, which include the Lodge Hill Garage in Abingdon, he, like every other business, still struggles to obtain credit from his bankers.

“It does not matter if you have done 50 years and kept your nose clean – it counts for nothing. In business, cash is king.”

Yet he has plenty of irons still in the fire with ideas and projects still to be realised.

For Peter Jewson, retirement is not an option.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 16.46.44.png