Gilbern car man’s former shop, Church Village

Gilbern car man’s former shop, Church Village

Butcher Giles Smith kept a shop here after the Second World War. His hankering for a car with a body made of glass fibre led to the establishment of Gilbern, the only Welsh company to make complete cars.

The first three or four of c.1,000 Gilbern vehicles were assembled behind Mr Smith’s butcher’s shop. It’s believed that by this time he had moved his shop a few doors further west along Main Road, to the building now occupied by Lloyd’s Bank.

He happened to meet a German engineer called Bernard Friese, who was living in Laleston, near Bridgend, after being a prisoner of war and later marrying a local woman in Kent. Mr Friese already had experience of building glass-fibre car bodies, and the pair started work in 1959 on the first Gilbern. The name took the first syllables of the men’s forenames.

By 1961, demand for the cars had grown enough to justify setting up a factory near Llantwit Fardre rail station, less than 2km to the west.

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Postcode: CF38 1RL

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