Colyford Filling Station, built in 1927-8 to the designs of Frederick Kett.
The 2003 addition immediately to the east is not included in the listing.
Reason for Listing
* Historical: as a rare surviving example of an 1920s architect-designed filling station, intended to be sympathetic to its rural location, reflecting concerns about the spoliation of the countryside in the early days of the motor industry
* Design Interest: for its considered and distinctive design, in which vernacular and historical elements are turned to the service of a very modern building type
* Intactness: for its remarkable level of preservation, with all the most significant features surviving
* Technical Features: for the five 1950s Avery Hardoll pumps standing on the forecourt, two of which are original to the site; these are thought to comprise the best set retained in a setting in which they were once used
The first petrol-powered motor cars were imported into Great Britain in 1895. For the first decade, cars remained the preserve of the rich, but car ownership grew steadily, and by 1912 there were nearly a quarter of a million cars in Britain; by the end of the First World War, cars had ousted horse-drawn transport. The 1920s saw a great increase in motoring; the number of cars expanded from just under one million in 1922 to 2.4 million by 1934. In the early years, the demand for motor repair services, and petrol, was largely met by existing businesses – frequently bicycle, blacksmith and coach-building concerns – which adapted to the new commercial conditions. Petrol, which was distributed by rail, was initially sold in cans by motor-repair garages, and at other shops. The first filling stations were built for the Automobile Association in 1920-1; there followed a hasty proliferation of filling stations and roadside pumps, often in makeshift accommodation, and accompanied by numerous colourful advertisements signs – particularly in the countryside, where the agricultural depression had made land cheap. Anxiety at this development was instrumental in the formation of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England. The demand for better-designed and more orderly filling stations was acknowledged by the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act of 1928, which allowed local authorities to regulate the appearance of filling stations. Signage might be improved, and the ubiquitous galvanised iron shed painted a suitable colour, but building in more substantial materials, and to designs deemed appropriate to rural settings, was encouraged. Vernacular styles were widely favoured; pumps were frequently sheltered under tiled - or sometimes thatched - canopies, resting on timber posts, and an element of half-timbered decoration was not unusual. Numerous architect-designed examples were erected, particularly on main roads, though the basic shed remained the norm.
The petrol filling station at Colyford, Devon, was built in 1927-8, at the instigation of a Mr W H Davey, farmer and entrepreneur, who identified the need for a filling station on this section of the road between Lyme Regis and Sidmouth, both popular holiday destinations – now the A3052. Frederick Kett of Axminster was commissioned to design a building which was in tune with contemporary preferences. Kett took inspiration from the filling station at Countess Wear, Exeter (now demolished), a timber structure in a vernacular idiom, with a pitched tiled roof covering the forecourt and pumps, and also the rear office. Kett's Colyford building was of brick and block construction, with a half-timbered gable to the roof, and had more spacious shop and office facilities, with a symmetrical frontage.
The Colyford Filling Station provided over seventy years of service, with Mr Davey remaining in place until the 1970s. In the 1930s T E Lawrence is said regularly to have filled his Brough Superior motorcycle here, Colyford lying between Plymouth, where he was serving with the RAF, and his house in Dorset. The 1950s saw the end of petrol rationing, and an increase in car ownership; in this decade Colyford's original Hammond Visible petrol pumps were replaced by Avery Hardoll 598s, which were, like many other pumps, painted according to the brand of petrol sold, and the preferences of the owner. From 1945 onwards, the solus agreements introduced by the major oil companies increasingly tied petrol stations to selling petrol from only one supplier; in the 1960s, Shell became Colyford's supplier, with other companies taking over in succeeding years. The site was refurbished by the current owner in the early 1980s, and three of the 1950s pumps were replaced with modern versions. In 1988, Shell contracted to provide petrol to the filling station, using 1950s pumps which had been converted to litres. Two of the original pumps were reinstated, together with three replacements of the same model. The filling station ceased to operate in 2001. In 2003 a subsidiary building was constructed to the east, to house a collection of motoring memorabilia, and the site opened in 2004 as a museum of motoring history.
MATERIALS: Built of brick and block, the walls being rendered above a brick plinth; the intention is apparently to give an impression of cob construction. The roof is tiled, and there are timber elements to the design, both structural and decorative. The principal windows retain their timber frames.
PLAN: The enclosed block which formerly provided the shop and office space stands to south, with the forecourt to north; both areas are covered by the roof, which rests at the front on four timber piers, the forecourt being open on three sides.
EXTERIOR: A gable with decorative timber-framing breaks the front of the pyramidal roof. The supporting timber piers are chamfered and stopped, and rest on brick plinths. The roof above the forecourt is ceiled, with timber joists. The enclosed block has a central door with a glazed panel above and a recessed panel below. This is flanked by two horizontal display windows, each one consisting of a large pane of glass, with a transom light above containing the original green and brown textured glass. Above the door hangs a clock, bought from a garage in Exeter, and not original to this site. There are toilet facilities to the west and east ends of the building, each elevation having a boarded door with a narrow window to either side; the window openings to the west now hold metal-framed replacement windows. The rear wall formerly had two ground-floor windows, with a long horizontal window lighting the attic; only one window now remains, to the ground floor, and this has been reduced in size. Rising against the west and rear walls, a number of pipes, installed to provide ventilation to the underground tank. A low pavement which stretched along the front of the building from either side of the front door, and around the corners to the washrooms, has been truncated at the east end by the construction of the new museum building. The corners of the pavement were originally marked by painted concrete balls, of which two remain. Placed between the posts at the front of the forecourt, five 1950s Avery Hardoll 598 petrol pumps, two being original to the site; these are painted, with replacement plastic globes advertising different petroleum companies.
Immediately to the east is the museum building dating from 2003, its design closely following that of the filling station; the two buildings are joined only by timber gates. The museum building is not of special interest, and does not form part of the listing.
INTERIOR: The enclosed section of the filling station was originally divided to provide two small showrooms at the front, with an office to the rear, the attic being accessed by a staircase against the centre of the back wall. The internal partitions have now been removed, leaving the space open, and the staircase has been moved to a new position against the west wall. An opening has been cut through to the gents' toilet, which was originally accessed only from outside, as the ladies' is still. Both washrooms retain six-panelled doors and original washbasins, but the toilets have been replaced. The tall attic space provided a storage area; the roof structure remains intact, with a glazed gap in the tiles to front and rear.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.