THE longest surviving business in Petts Wood will close its doors for the last time, after nearly 80 years of stalwart service.

Dunstonian car garage was opened in 1930 by keen 19-year-old entrepreneur Jack Kemsley.

Named after his school, St Dunstan’s in Catford, Mr Kemsley’s new business boasted four petrol pumps, an office and workshop in Station Square, Petts Wood.

But the business will close with a loss of 26 jobs on January 29 this year - eight decades on.

One of those facing redundancy is Jack Kemsley’s son, John, who took over 30 years ago.

The 63-year-old says the remnants of his family’s business will be bulldozed and replaced with social housing.

He said: “I’m extremely sorry to see the garage go - it is a sad time.

“I’ve enjoyed running the business but the car industry is not the same as it used to be.

“This time last year the problems in the car market really started to bite. It was very bad.

“Local people are going to miss the garage here.”

The death knell for the business came after car giant Peugeot decided to pull out of its franchise deal with Dunstonian.

And, nine years after his father’s death, John Kemsley had no other option but to wind down the operation.

He said: “On a site like this we cannot sell a good number of used cars anymore.

“My father was a very practical man and would have accepted the situation.”

100 staff

Jack Kemsley’s business empire in Petts Wood expanded quickly after 1930 when he bought a piece of land in Station Square and turned it into a car park.

In the 1950s another piece of land was snapped up by the ambitious Kemsley and transformed into a petrol station.

At its peak, Dunstonian had around 100 staff working in petrol stations, showrooms and workshops.

However, in 1991 the business slowly shrank to a single showroom and workshop, based in Station Square.

Petts Wood Business Association chairman John Charsley said: “It is well respected and popular with its customers and it will be sad to see the family business close after all these years.”