David Gregory Marshall was born in Cambridge in humble circumstances and had to make his own way in life. At the age of 14 in 1887, he began his apprenticeship in the kitchens of Trinity College, where his entrepreneurial spirit and business sense were quickly recognised. This led at the beginning of the century, to his being appointed as Steward and Manager of the University Pitt Club, where he was given the responsibility of recovering the Club’s poor financial position. Sir Walter Morley Fletcher, the President, wrote in his History of the University Pitt Club that ‘Mr D G Marshall’s services to the Club were very remarkable. It was he who instituted the system of catering on a wide and profitable scale and, during his stewardship; the Club acquired a large and elaborate kitchen. Until he came to the office, the accounts showed a regular deficit but, after one term of his management, profits appeared. “Napoleon of the Pitt” as he came to be called, laid the foundations of his present prosperous garage and aerodrome business by providing private cars, which members might hire. One of these, with a smart chauffeur, was regularly seen waiting outside the Club in Jesus Lane.’

In 1906, David Marshall visited Paris for the first time and was amazed at the advanced state of motoring compared with England. He made up his mind that he must somehow get into the motoring business as soon as possible, and he established a chauffeur drive business in a stable in Brunswick Gardens in 1909, where he garaged his two Metallurgique saloon cars, and in 1910 extended to a garage in King Street before the addition of a Cottin-Desgouttes landaulette and a touring car, all providing transport for the wealthy dons and undergraduates. In 1912 the business moved to a new garage and showroom in Jesus Lane, on the site of the old Crown Inn and livery stables.

David Marshall was enthused by aviation and his first direct contact with it was in 1912 when his mechanics assisted in repairs to an Army airship ‘The Beta’ which had made a forced landing in Jesus College grounds, immediately behind the garage. During the 1914 – 1918 War, the Jesus Lane garage was used for servicing and repairing vehicles required for the war effort, including Rolls-Royce armoured cars and also the ambulances used for collecting the seriously wounded soldiers from the railway station and taking them to the First Eastern General Hospital, a hutted hospital (on the site of the present University Library) and the largest in the country. During this time the Company changed its name to Marshall’s Garage.

David Marshall, over military age at 42, was determined to join the forces. He was on good terms with some Quaker members of the Pitt Club and he was able to go to France for several months in a voluntary capacity with a catering unit, wearing a uniformed officer’s ranking with responsibility for building up the Catering Units immediately behind the front lines. He was awarded the Mons medal for this service. Returning from France, he was appointed to organise the catering at the Woolwich Arsenal, where he provided over 50,000 meals, day and night, for munitions workers. It was during the course of this work, for which he was awarded the MBE that Marshall was asked by the Ministry of Food to advise on canteen problems at the Austin factory at Longbridge Birmingham. This inspired him, after the war, to seek an Austin dealership and in 1920 he obtained the first dealership in Cambridgeshire.

Marshall was known in local circles both for his business integrity (he reinsured customers at his own expense when the company he had first used went bankrupt) and for his keen participation in all forms of sport. He had a particular enthusiasm for riding and imported Arab horses from Egypt. He was also keen on horse racing, and his horses had some success.

His son Arthur joined him in the garage business in 1926. They also pursued their shared interest in aviation and opened a flying school in 1929. This was a popular venture, with both University and townsmen, and Marshall bought farmland (now the Whitehill Road estate) for an airfield.

Although Marshall had not long retired to Hove, the outbreak of World War II brought him back to Cambridge to play a part in the company’s support for the war effort. Pilots were trained for the RAF and aircraft repaired and modified. During the War the Company elementary-trained over 20,000 pilots and repaired or modified over 5,000 aircraft.

David Marshall died suddenly on 9 July 1942 whilst riding one of his Arab horses on Coldham’s Common near the airdrome.