When car breaker Eddie Torrens auctioned off more than 600 lots at his Farren Road premises, Ballymoney, two years ago it brought the curtain down on half a century in the business.
A combination of ill health and environmental issues had forced Eddie to shut down an operation that was arguably the biggest and best known in Ireland.
For decades, the name Torrens was synonymous with an astonishing amount of car parts, specialist engine provision and an export/import business that provided employment for many in the area.
The business was started by Eddie while still a schoolboy. He admits he was more interested in selling tyres than delving into text books and when ticked off by a teacher for missing lessons he famously asked: “I made £100 yesterday, how much did you make?” Today, the spacious premises lie empty. An area that was once choc-a-bloc with cars of all makes has long been snapped up by the recycling people and only a large, specially built steel frame for vehicles stands.
There is also the reception area which was incorporated into a large workshop and store. These lie unused and a few new Quad bikes provide a reminder of a tiny aspect of this former thriving concern. But while there’s nothing to sell, Eddie, who is now confined to a wheelchair, still retains his routine by getting himself down to the yard from his nearby home and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week he’ll answer telephone calls and deal with visitors many of whom have travelled a long distance unaware of the closure. Requests for parts are diverted to other dealers.
“You might as well say I operate as a call centre nowadays. I can’t do anything at present and it’s very frustrating, but that’s the way things are,” he admitted.
But all that may change in the near future. For stepping into his father’s footsteps is Eddie’s son, Roger James Aguilar Torrens, who left Northern Ireland 20 years ago with his Phillipino mother but who recently made the 7000 mile trip from his home in Mani la to be re-united with his dad.
It’s a story of compassion coupled with a desire to hopefully re-establish a business that blossomed and grew into a huge operation with scores of callers on a daily basis.
Roger, now 23-years-old, is here to stay and what he doesn’t know about the car business he is prepared to learn from the experience gained by his father over a lifetime.
“I know a bit about cars but I’ll have a very good teacher. But that’s not the only reason I came back. My father isn’t well and I can be with him to help where I can,” Roger said.
It may be sometime before any firm plans can be made to re-open the business.
“We have to overcome many hurdles and that’ll take some time but we have a desire to get back to the way things were,” Roger said.
If it does happen, it will restore the name Torrens to an industry that many feel has missed his presence.