England's first petrol station

Nick Evans

Author Nick Evans, in his book Fuelling the Motoring Age: 100 Years of British Petrol Stations, published in 2019 by The History Press, reveals that the A4 near Aldermaston was the location, one hundred years earlier, for the first purpose-built filling station in the country.

English Heritage record “The first filling station in England was opened in November 1919 at Aldermaston, Berkshire by the Automobile Association (AA). At the time, the AA was trying to promote the sale of British-made benzole fuel – a by-product of burning coal – as an alternative to imported Russian petrol. Prior to this, benzole from Russia had been widely available, but in the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, this trade was viewed in England as tantamount to supporting the Bolsheviks.

At the Aldermaston filling station, with its single hand-operated pump, motorists were served by AA patrolmen in full uniform. The organisation opened another seven filling stations, and very soon the idea of selling British-made fuel took off, with 7,000 pumps in use by 1923.”

Roadside Petrol Station 1920  is a Pathe News short silent film of a car using the Bath Road Petrol Station.  Watch it at https://youtu.be/za_0EXH2mMA    Note the Station Road railway bridge in the background – this suggests the filling station was to the west of the Station Road/A4 junction, in the direction of Woolhampton.

There are some further details on the Britain By Car website,  here: https://www.britainbycar.co.uk/aldermaston/408-britain-s-first-petrol-station



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