MANY will remember John Clarke who founded Trident Motors in Colchester.

In the early days he and his business partner Wally Alfrey became local celebrity’s through some of the innovative ways in which they tried to sell cars.

John’s daughter Julie Clarke-Edwards explains this included hiring a camel and even a glamour model, in the 1970s, to help promote sell the cars.

“They did a lot of things, to raise money for charity and also at other times to raise the profile of the business.”

Julie paid tribute to her dad who sadly died in January.

“So many people will remember him because Trident motors has been in the town for so many years now and is still going.

“He was very well known and even after he retired and passed the business on to my brother, he was always coming and seeing everyone.

“He couldn’t stay away really.”

She explains her mum, Brenda, and dad moved to Colchester 40 years ago from Bedfordshire, where John had been born and brought up.

The couple had three children - Mandy, Kenny and Julie.

John chose the town, Julie explains, specifically because he felt it would be a good place to start his own business and it was far enough away from his previous businesses for there not to be any overlap or conflict of interest.

Trident Motors started life in Military Road and John was later joined there by Wally.


“They were quite the local celebrities with regular mentions in the local newspapers with their shenanigans to sell cars and promote the workshop,” adds Julie.

Trident then moved to larger premises in Eight Ash Green, just outside Colchester, where the building was near derelict.


Julie says : “As he fell through the floor to his waist he exclaimed ‘I’m buying it’.

“It was a successful garage, but as he discovered Spring Lane had nothing to do with the damp.

“That was a burst water main that took all the foundation out of the forecourt and collapsed with the cars on.”

John finally settled into Marks Tey Motor Works 30 years ago, with his wife and three children, where he expanded into recovery and then more recently tyres.

Julie explains her dad was an “inspiration, living proof that you could not let anything in life hold you back.”


She continues this was because he battled poor health almost his entire life having contracted tuberculosis as a baby.

This lead to operations on his knee and hip and he would often suffer injuries as he grew up, determined not to give in to the weakness it caused.

The tuberculosis had also killed John’s father - whose grave he only recently discovered.

Kenneth Clarke was among many buried in a paupers grave in Southend, which was not uncommon at the time of his death in the mid 1940s when people died as a result of death from an infectious disease, says Julie.

He lived with the repercussions of that boat with tuberculosis including having one leg shorter than the other. Then 24 years ago, during a job interview for one of his employees, John suffered a brain haemorrhage.

“Mark got the job, and is still with Trident so maybe that was a good first impression on both sides,” says Julie. At this time John’s son Kennystarted a more active role in the business and started taking over Trident.

He again became ill in 2014, suffering a stroke and then undergoing a quadruple heart-bypass at Basildon Hospital - where his unusual tattoo struck a chord with nurses.

Julie, a tattoo artist, explains John asked her to tattoo a zip on the scar he had which ran down the centre of his chest as a result of having his spleen removed as a child.

“The surgeons spent a lot of care lining up those tattooed lines after the heart surgery, which they managed perfectly,” she says.

Having confounded doctors with his resilience, John bounced back and three years ago John and Brenda celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary.

“They enjoyed 56 years together, and 53 of those married.

“And as an imposing business owner, he often commented how pleased he was that his three children all followed in his footsteps to be successful business owners in Colchester too.

Despite fighting to the end, John died in January aged 73.

His funeral at St Andrew’s Church in Marks Tey was attended by more than 150 people.

Julie says John never considered himself disabled.

“He has fought every illness and problem life placed in his way, with determination and humour.”

Trident continues as a family business, run by Kenny and his wife Monica.

John’s eldest daughter Mandy runs a hairdressing business.