In the years I have been driving I have seen the number of vehicles on the road increase, yet the number of sites selling petrol has dramatically fallen.
Once small rural garages had a couple of petrol pumps outside, and often another pump dispensing Esso Blue or Pink Paraffin. If the garage still exists it is likely the pumps are long gone.
Similarly many forecourts have disappeared from our towns. Take Chard over the border in Somerset as an example. Chard now has only two places selling petrol and diesel to the public, one of them the supermarket giant Tesco. I can remember another five sites around town that have closed down over the years.
Thinking about this I decided as an exercise to take a virtual drive along the A35 from the East Street roundabout in Bridport to the roundabout that is at the entrance to Tesco in Axminster and list the petrol forecourts past and present.
- Greens and Bridport Motor Company, East Street roundabout, Bridport:- There used to be two petrol stations right next to each other. Greens sold BP and Bridport Motor Company sold Esso. Today only one still exists, run by the Co-operative and selling Texaco fuels.
- Star Garage, East Street, Bridport:- I remember them selling Shell fuels. Homebredy House retirement complex now stands on the site.
- Bonfields, West Street, Bridport:- Former British Leyland dealer Bonfields sold Esso petrol before changing to Q8. The site has been redeveloped as shops and dwellings. The Bonfield name lives on as part of Bridport’s Ford car dealership, Harbour Bonfield Garage on St Andrews Road.
- West Road Garage, West Road, Bridport:- A family run garage that used to sell Pace petrol, and I think I remember them selling Elf fuels before that. The garage still exists but they long ago gave up selling petrol. They were a Lada dealership and then went to Proton. Thinking back I believe Malaysian car producer Proton targeted Lada dealers when they first came to the UK as West Road Garage was not the only one to make this move.
- Chideock:- There used to be petrol pumps on the site of what is now the Londis shop. Am I right in thinking they were branded Q8?
- Frodsham Motors, Morecombelake:- I cannot remember Frodshams selling anything other than Esso fuels. Their large vehicle recovery lorries where also a familiar site locally. Closed down following the death of the owner the site remained empty for ages but now houses Felicity’s Farm Shop.
- Dorset Leisure, Charmouth:- Part of the caravan dealers site they sold Jet petrol. Following the opening of the Charmouth bypass the forecourt closed and became part of their caravan display area.
- Masters Garage, Raymonds Hill:- As far as I remember Masters Garage only ever sold Esso. On the left just before the Hunters Lodge Hotel this site now has houses built on it.
- Hunters Lodge Garage, Raymonds Hill:- Sat on the corner of the A35 and the B3165 Crewkerne road. Over the years this forecourt sold various brands of fuels including Shell, Jet and Gulf. Rob Perry Marine now occupy the site.
- Prospect Garage, Lyme Road, Axminster:- A family run garage that has survived and currently sells Pace petrol. Previously branded Q8.
- Wilson Allen Motors, West Street, Axminster:- This former Renault dealership sold Elf and BP fuels before closing. Minster Court retirement flats now stands on the site.
- Moto of Axminster, West Street, Axminster:- Right on the roundabout this was formerly Websters. If I remember correctly they sold Esso petrol and Mitsubishi cars. Pets At Home currently occupy the building.
- Tesco Filling Station, Axminster:- When Tesco built their store at Shand Park on the former Shand factory site they built this petrol station across the road by the roundabout and next to the railway station. One of only two places left to buy fuel in Axminster these days.
Bridport, Charmouth and Axminster have all had bypasses built in recent years and this has obviously had an impact on the traffic passing through them and so will have had an influence on the viability of some establishments.