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Mobil Forecourt Canopies, Birstall

Description: Mobil Forecourt Canopies

Grade: II
Date Listed: 27 March 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1406858

OS Grid Reference: SK5895508127
OS Grid Coordinates: 458955, 308127
Latitude/Longitude: 52.6677, -1.1296

Locality: Birstall
County: Leicestershire
Country: England
Postcode: LE4 4AU

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Listing Text


Petrol filling station canopies of a very striking overlapping parasol design by Eliot Noyes. Late 1960s.

Reason for Listing

The Red Hill circular Mobil canopy units are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons

* Architectural interest: the canopy units are an iconic piece of corporate design and a rare survival in England as well as internationally

* Authorship: the canopies are the work of the American modernist architect, Eliot Noyes, a noted designer and a leading figure in post-war commercial design

* Intactness: the canopies are intact despite inevitable changes to other parts of the forecourt through re-branding


Commissioned in 1964, industrial designer Eliot Noyes (1910-1977) carried out a re-branding for Mobil Oil Corporation in the USA where poor petrol station design had led to a suggestion of tighter regulation. Mobil's brief, therefore, was for an instantly recognisable and aesthetically pleasing design. The project, named Pegasus, was a total design concept which encompassed shapes, colour schemes, and logos. The first station opened in the USA in 1966.The most striking feature of the re-branding was the innovative re-design of the canopy in the form of individual, over-lapping circular canopy units, possibly influenced by the 1937 design for the service station at Skovshoved, Denmark, by Arne Jacobsen. Noyes developed variations of his design which came into use internationally, varying from single large stand-alone canopies to very small individual units which simply protected the pumps. The blue and red colour-way and logo was the result of Noyes employing Chermayeff and Geismar, the New York-based branding and graphic design firm.
Eliot Noyes (1910-1977). Noyes was an important figure in post-war commercial design, involved with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he founded the Industrial Design department. He studied architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the 1930s, where he met Le Corbusier, and worked with Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer after graduating. Noyes worked for IBM for over 20 years and was responsible for a comprehensive and thoughtful corporate design strategy. His own house in New Canaan, Connecticut (1955) is included on the US National Register as an International Style gem. A monograph on Noyes by Gordon Bruce was published by Phaidon in 2006.
The Mobil canopies at Red Hill, Leicester, are believed to date from the late 1960s.


Petrol filling station canopy, late 1960s, by Eliot Noyes (1910-1977). Steel posts and canopy frames, comprising six separate, overlapping, circular units on tall plain posts. Twenty-eight radiating segments create the circular shape, which meet on a ring at the post. Each canopy unit is white and edged by a red and white strip containing the word 'ESSO', which appears to be applied in paint. Beneath each canopy unit, attached to the post, is a pair of rectangular metal boxes presumably containing up-lighters. The pumps beneath the canopy and the adjacent forecourt building are not included in the designation.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.