Where Have All The Petrol Stations Gone? (A drive along the A35)

In the years I have been driving I have seen the number of vehicles on the road has greatly increased. Conversely the number of sites selling petrol has dramatically fallen.

Once small rural garages had a couple of petrol pumps outside. Maybe there was also a 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 across the border in Somerset as an example. Chard now has only two places selling petrol and diesel to the public. One of them is 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 from Bridport to Axminster. On my imaginary trip along the A35 I would list the petrol forecourts past and present.

The list below starts at the East Street roundabout in Bridport. It ends at the roundabout that is at the entrance to Tesco in Axminster.

The Forecourts listed.

  • 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. For many years it was Texaco branded but now is Esso once again .
  • 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. It is now 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. 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 the Malaysian car producer Proton targeted Lada dealers when they first came to the UK. 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 village shop. Am I right in thinking they 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. Frodshams 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. It is now 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 which currently sells Gulf petrol. Previously branded Q8 and Pace Petroluem.
  • 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 Garage. 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 they built this petrol station across the road.  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. This has had an impact on the traffic passing through them. In turn this will have had an influence on the viability of some petrol forecourts.

More long gone petrol sellers.

There are other places I am aware of that used to sell petrol along this route. I have not listed them above as I do not personally remember them.

Here goes, other old A35 petrol stations.

  • Stevensons Garage, East Street, Bridport:- Located on the corner of Barrack Street across from the Lord Nelson pub. There used to be a photograph of this inon the wall of the Lord Nelson. Something at the back of my mind says they sold Butler petrol.
  • Unknown, West Street, Bridport:- I have seen photographs showing old petrol pumps on the site that is now Waitrose in Bridport.
  • Gears Garage, Charmouth:- Located in the middle of the vilage. The site is now a cafe and fish and chip shop. There are photos at freshford.com. The petrol pumps look like they are selling different brands of petrol. The middle one is Shell. The one on the right is BP in one picture but looks like it something else in another. The one on the left could be National Benzole.
  • Unknown, Charmouth:- In other old photographs I have seen petrol pumps pictured on the other side of The Street in Charmouth. It looks like they were opposite their rivals at Gears Garage.

Can anybody add to this list? Or perhaps you can give further history about the sites listed? I would love to read your comments which you can leave below.

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  1. Stevenson’s Garage, East Street, had a difficult site. Petrol was dispensed by a nozzle on the end of a log rubber pipe which swung out across the pavement. It was much smaller than the Star Garage, almost directly opposite.

  2. I remember Stevenson’s well. We used to fill up there with petrol, and my father would simply say to (Maurice ?) “Thank you, Just book it”. Complete trust and always a cheery transaction.

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