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Former Colvin Bros. Filling Station, Rother

Description: Former Colvin Bros. Filling Station

Grade: II
Date Listed: 11 October 2012
Building ID: 1408523

OS Grid Reference: TQ7150531275
OS Grid Coordinates: 571505, 131275
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0552, 0.4458

Locality: Rother
Local Authority: Rother District Council
County: East Sussex
Postcode: TN5 7PG

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Listing Text


Former filling station, built 1926, in a neo-vernacular style; later C20 and C21 alterations.

Reason for Listing

The Former Colvin Bros. Filling Station of 1926 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it is an early, rural, neo-vernacular filling station, readily identifiable from its projecting canopy, which responded to the ideas on good garage design being promoted by bodies such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England;
* Rarity: it is one of a very small number of early filling stations to survive, and has additional interest as an example which appeared in the motoring press and to which an accurate date can attributed.


The former Colvin Bros. filling station was opened in 1926; it stands on the A21, the road which historically linked London with Hastings. By the 1920s the motor car, which had once been available only to the very rich, was widely in use by the middle classes. This period saw much new road building, and with that the springing-up of filling stations and repair garages along them. Colvin Bros. is believed to have been a local engineering firm, based in Ticehurst, that presumably saw the opportunity to provide petrol, repair services, and refreshments to motorists en route to the seaside.

The Colvin Bros. filling station originally faced directly onto the A21, however a subsequent alteration in the line of the road, means there is now a lay-by between it and the road. The filling station had a customer lounge which served refreshments, as well as petrol pumps from which petrol could be dispensed from under cover; there was also a repair garage on the site (this building no longer survives). From approximately the mid-C20 the building became home to a coach operator, and subsequently a coach holiday operator. No petrol pumps remain on the site. The later C20/C21 alterations, in particular the modern internal layout, are not of special interest.

The proliferation of garages and filling stations in the 1920s, the design of which was un-regulated by planning controls, raised concerns about the impact these perceived eye-sores were having on the countryside. Organisations such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England were instrumental in campaigning for better design which was more in keeping with its surroundings. The issue of garage design was also of concern to the Design and Industries Association, who in 1930 produced a booklet entitled 'The Village Pump: A Guide to Better Garages'. This booklet illustrates the haphazard shed-like garages which were deemed to be spoiling the countryside, and provides examples of the tidy, thoughtfully-designed, purpose-built garages which the booklet sought to promote. Amongst these 'good' examples, quite a number are clearly influenced by the pressure to harmonise with their surroundings, using vernacular references as a foil for their modern function. Although not illustrated in this booklet, the Colvin Bros. filling station very obviously shares the architectural approach taken by the 'good' examples which are.


MATERIALS: the walls of the building are weatherboarded, apart from the gable end of the canopy which is rendered between mock timber-framing. The roof is covered in concrete tiles (the original covering is unknown, but was possibly clay tiles), and there is a single brick chimney stack.

PLAN: the building is rectangular in plan and has a single-storey, plus attic, under a half-hipped roof. To the rear is a single-storey outshut, and a low two-storey extension with a brick chimney stack (this is thought to be a slightly later addition).

EXTERIOR: the half-hipped gable end of the attic storey projects out to form a canopy over the forecourt. The canopy is supported across the front on four square-section timber posts with stone bases, and diagonal splat bracing at the top. The petrol pumps originally stood in between the timber posts. The gable end is rendered and painted white, with black-painted vertical mock framing, and the eaves have scallop-edged bargeboards. The original entrance into the building was via a central door beneath the canopy, with a cashier's window to the right; this has been replaced with a large plate glass frontage (also with central door). Windows and doors to the sides and rear are timber and of varying dates, but are generally not original.

It is not known how, or if, the attic storey was originally used, however it now provides a one-bedroom drivers' flat and a number of roof-lights have been inserted in both pitches of the roof. Two brick piers topped with lanterns flanked the site; the one to the left survives (without the lantern), the one to the right does not.

INTERIOR: the original internal layout, which was probably very simple, is not evident; the principal space has been divided into several offices and an L-shaped hallway, and fixtures and fittings are modern.

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