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Golden Valley Garage Nostalgia

Colin James

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This is a really lovely story that I have just read in the HT and thought I would add it to our forums for discussion.



photo courtesy of HT


A UNIQUE filling station in the Golden Valley which is believed to be one of the oldest in the country is to sell fuel once again following a refurbishment.

Robert Wilding has been running West End Garage, in Vowchurch, since the 1990s when he took over from his dad, Hedley.
The garage has been refuelling motorists since 1923 when Mr Wilding's grandfather, James Charles, was granted a licence to sell petrol.
Widely believe to be one of the oldest filling stations in Britain, Mr Wilding is now taking steps to upgrade the tank so that he can continue his family's legacy.
He said: "My grandfather started selling fuel in 1923. He died in 1948 and my father and uncle took over the business then. I have grown up here.
"I am only using one petrol pump now and trying to keep the tradition up of selling petrol in the Golden Valley.
"I haven't been selling since last June but have been helping people out with petrol should they get stuck. But I am going to start again in the next fortnight."
There are two petrol pumps in the front garden, one a Wayne and the other an Avery.
Large enamelled advertisement plates for Raleigh bicycles and one for Castrol can be seen on the front facade of the house, which dates from the early to mid twentieth century.
Sales take place in the front room of the cottage which has a sales counter for sweets, newspapers and small motoring supplies.
But the traditional appearance of the filling station won't change with the refurb and works are taking place to change the tank to a fiberglass liner with new plastic pipes.
"If the work hadn't been carried out I would have had to have had it filled with concrete or had the tank taken out," Mr Wilding, 67, said.
"So it was one or the other and I decided to carry on. I'm not going to make much money out of it but it's a traditional way of life."
The pump will supply motorists with petrol but Mr Wilding is also able to help anyone who needs diesel.
Speaking about why his grandfather decided to start the business, he added: "He just went into everything. He was a coffin maker, he did building work, he did cycle repairs. He had the first radio in the district, he was just a pioneer, he was a marvellous man that I never met."
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My home village - you also have 2 churches very close together.  This came about because 2 sisters had a little fall out and the one said I vow to build a church before you can turn a stone.  Hence Vowchurch and Turnastone.


Sounds like the Twix advert Denise ha ha.  Love this story about the fuel station there, how wonderful, if you could grab some additional photographs that would really be good.

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I remember back in the early 00's I think, when the good old EU decided that fuel pumps had to be a set distance from the road, there was a major campaign to get these exempted due to their historic nature - I am pretty sure they are listed now as well. Very quaint little place, hardly changed in the last 50 years or so, I think he still uses a manual till as well!

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  • 4 years later...
  • 3 months later...

Yes shut up shop. The pumps are still there but there is no one home.  The property belongs to the Countryside Restoration Trust who also own Turnastone Court which is just around the corner. I am hoping that the Trust will raise enough money to bring some life back into it - it certainly  looks very sad as it is and many people do travel quite some distance to see the pumps and the cycle.  Should I see my brother tomorrow who still lives in Turnastone I will ask him for an update.

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  • 11 months later...

No hope there - I did contact the Countryside Restoration Trust as in Robin Page who own it to ask their intentions but had a mumbled phone message left. Have heard nothing since. You could contact the Parish Council and ask them if you need their contact details I can supply. It looks so delapidated and sad there.  

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remember this topic now it has cropped up again - CRT sold it for development modernisation updating or whatever but not everybody is happy  taken from a report Sunshine Radio today -

Outcry over historic garage conversion plan

Monday, 8 January 2024 15:04

By Gavin McEwan - Local Democracy Reporter

A former BBC Top Gear presenter is among motoring heritage enthusiasts objecting to England’s oldest filling station in Herefordshire being turned into a house.

The proposal to convert the grade II-listed Glendore in the Golden Valley village of Turnastone was submitted for planning permission in November by its owners, a Dr and Mrs Clark.

It was first used as a filling station in 1919 and its period pumps still stand in the front garden. The house itself, now unused for over a decade, is thought to be around 100 years older.

Among objections so far published on Herefordshire Council’s planning webpage, Tiff Needell, who signs himself off as “racing driver and TV presenter”, wrote: “England’s oldest surviving petrol station should be preserved as just that.

“It should be a museum! Where’s the imagination? Not a home please! Madness!”

He claimed the building’s historic features would “become just a token rather than living history” if the change of use were approved.

Now aged 72, Mr Needell presented Top Gear between 1987 and 2001, and later also Fifth Gear on Channel 5. Earlier he briefly raced in Formula 1, and also competed in rally cross and the Le Mans 24-hour race.

Motoring journalist, author and publisher Philip Porter meanwhile claimed that not to preserve “this unique motoring monument” would be “sacrilege”.

“If it is a matter of money, I am confident that the funds can me raised and I would be prepared to lead such a crusade among our well-healed (sic) worldwide clients to preserve such a motoring shrine,” he added.

Peter Ashley, author of English Heritage’s The English Buildings Book, said the garage “has been a vital part of our unsung heritage and should be preserved at all costs”.

Golden Valley resident Tom Harris said the Clarks’ bid did not commit them to preserving the features of what the building’s official heritage listing describes as “an early and increasingly rare example of an early 20th-century rural petrol station”.

And fellow resident David Jackson said: “I don’t think the new owners have paid any attention whatsoever to its special historic status, which will be lost forever.”

Consultation on the proposal has closed, and the council gives its target determination date as December 15, 2023.

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