Forecourt Trader
Home
Menu

Gulf site named oldest in Europe

21 April, 2011

Riddesdell Brothers service station in Boxford, Suffolk has been named Europe’s oldest recorded working garage.

The 110-year-old site may not offer all the mod cons of a modern forecourt but it continues to offer attended service and the fill-up and checking of oil, water and tyre pressure come as standard.

Proprietor Howard Watts said: “This is a rural site situated in a quintessential English village. Our premises are old-world and so is the mode of operation. My mother, bless her, is still our wages clerk at the age of 81 and long may it continue.”

Established in 1900, the site comprises four in-line pumps adjacent to a 100ft-long wood-walled shed, built before the Great War to service and maintain traction engines and steam cars. One of the original steam cars, an American Locomobile, which was built late 1890s, remains in the village, owned by one of the site’s customers.

Howard bought Riddesdell Brothers in 2001 and while he recognises that fuel may not be a major profit centre, it provides a service to the local community and the traffic flow it generates benefits other aspects of the business.

“The petrol filling station is very important for this village and the surrounding hamlets,” said Howard. “Much of the farming community relies upon us. With so many rural sites closing, the nearest fill-up is now over seven miles away.

“Sadly, garages like ours are a dying breed, so it’s important to have other revenue streams along with the support of a company like Gulf.”

Beneath the quaint exterior and tranquil village life, the reputation of Riddesdell Brothers for service and quality extends well beyond its petrol pumps. The company operates a one-stop shop for all things Porsche and has an international reputation for its car sales, engine rebuilds and body shop. Specialising in Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati and with several factory-trained technicians employed, UK customers come from as far afield as Manchester and the South Coast, whilst performance and classic cars are exported around the world.