A recent exhibition at The Wharf in Tavistock, Devon entitled ‘Not 24 Hours’ highlighted the work of photographer Andrew Parker, who has spent several years capturing images of a dying phenomenon within the motor trade. Indeed, when I first set out in insurance nearly twenty years ago, on a motor trade insurance proposal form one of the initial questions asked if the business was a petrol filling station.
Once a mainstay of rural Britain, the independent fuel retailer has all but died out. There are various factors as to why this has happened. Car engines are a lot more fuel efficient these days meaning that longer journeys can be facilitated without the need to fill up so often. Also, with the advent of massive road building schemes in the 1970s and 1980s, pretty much everything is a ‘bypass’ and as such they bypass these little country filling stations, most of which had an attendant who would fuel the car up for you, check your oil, water etc. and generally be an all round nice chap.
Obviously by far and away the biggest contributing factor to their demise is
the fact that the major supermarkets became the big players in this sector, topping the independents on price and efficiency; stick your card in at the pump, fill up the tank and you’re on your way, shopping in the boot, with little or no need for any human interaction.
In the same way that the supermarkets have squeezed the high street almost to death, the same has happened to the little independent filling station. I was actually astonished when I read the statistics. In 1990 the number of independent fuel retailers numbered around 12,000, a number that has today dwindled to a mere 885, the majority of which I should imagine are only kept afloat by other business such as repairs and MOTs.
Andrew Parker’s photos show some of the nostalgia of a bygone motoring age. Nevertheless some things do not change. Whatever your motor trade, you can always compare motor trade insurance here at CompareCrazy.com. The business insurance comparison site!