Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

Motoring Memories Museum, Colyford, Devon

Situated in the quiet and pretty village of Colyford, this gem of a museum has attracted thousands of visitors since it opened some twenty years ago. Sadly, it closed it's doors for the last time at the end of September 2011...and the 40 year collection of motoring memorabilia is to be sold off.

Much of the history and information below is taken from the Museum's own website...also from an interview with the owner in the local newspaper, the Midweek Herald. 

The originally filling station began with an idea in 1927 by a farmer, Mr W H Davey. Up until that time petrol was only available from pumps attached to barns, therefore he felt there was a need for a purpose-built station in the area. The architect, a Mr Kett, designed the station based on the wooden one at Countess Wear at the time, changing the building materials to block and brick and adding the Mock Tudor dormer. Built by local builders, it was completed in 1928, and offered Shell, BP, National Benzole and Redline petrol from four Hammond Visible hand operated pumps.

Some of it's history includes visits from Aircraftman Thomas Edward Shaw, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. A frequent customer to the station, on journeys between his home near Bovington Camp in Dorset and his Royal Airforce posting in Plymouth, he bought petrol for his Brough Superior Motorcycle...and it was on one of these journeys that he had the road accident near his home which led to his death on 18th may 1935.

It was also during the 1930s that Devon County Council decided that all petrol stations should be tidied up, and that Colyford station was the best example of how they should look.

During WW2 all petrol had to be 'pooled' and rationed, enabling the essential reserved occupations of ambulance drivers, doctors, fire service personnel, police and farmers etc, to receive a larger allocation of coupons than the general public. When rationing ended during the 1950s there was greater mobility, and petrol sales increased. However, it wasn't until the 1960s that stations were persuaded by petrol companies to sell just one brand, rather than four or five different ones, and Colyford became the sole supplier of Shell.

Sid's Motor Works (seen above) is a display representing the shop, stores and office of a 1930s garage, full of original tins and boxes with the company names and logos on them.

The present owner, Robin Barnard, bought the site in January 1982 and continued trading as a petrol station until September 2001. At that time it became obvious that cheap petrol from supermarket chains was outpricing the small, individual stations, and it was then that Mr Barnard decided to realise his dream of a museum. An extension was built on the side of the station, which was then used to house the massive 40 year old collection of cars, posters, globes, pumps and other memorabillia. 

Although I've known about the museum for several years, it was one of those places that I've been meaning to visit but didn't get around to until only recently. I only had half an hour to whizz around with my camera at the time, and fully intended to return before it closed for good. Unfortunately I left it until the last week, when illness stopped play and I wasn't up to it. However, I'm very glad I did get to see it, albeit briefly, as it was such an amazing collection...and so beautifully displayed.

The petrol pumps, below, will remain when the rest of the collection is sold.

One of the windows with it's delightful panes of green and yellow glass at the top (photo below). Oil cans hanging up behind one of these windows was one of the photos that I of those enduring images that I remember from my visit.

And finally, a photo of the exterior taken from across the road. 

More photos, along with these, can also be seen in the Photo Gallery album.

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