Birstall Petrol Station

Leicester Birstall Filling Station Top
Leicester Birstall Filling Station Top

Who would have thought that the one of the most innovative and distinctive petrol stations in the world is on the A6, in Birstall, on the outskirts of Leicester’s city centre.

The garage, now owned by BP, has made the top ten list featuring the best designed gas stations in the world.Which was voted by architects of DesignCurial magazine, which is based in London.

The structure, which consists of six large mushroom-like canopies, that form a symmetrical cover for pumps on the forecourt, was voted 6th on the list that contains the most iconic gas stations in the world, including the winner, the Pops Arcadia Station that sits alongside the famous Route 66, in the USA.

History of Birstall petrol station.

During the 1960s, Texas oil giants Mobil hired the architect Eliot Noyes, who was tasked to redesign all the companies gas stations during “Operation Pegasus” a major process to rebrand the company.

Whilst enlisting the help of graphic design firm Chermayeff & Geismar, the company who had designed the iconic Mobil sign, Noyes came up with the bold red, white and blue colour schemes that became instantly recognisable, particularly on the side of a highway.

Successfully meeting the design brief of being immediately identifiable, he designed a structure that fitted the golden age of motoring perfectly. The futuristic flying saucer-like parasols were created.

The design of the station.

The circular canopies – unique for their overlapping design – were first built in New haven, Connecticut in the USA in 1966.

The stations were originally accompanied by Noyes’ cylindrical shaped pumps with brushed aluminium casings.

The design was used in 19,000 new and remodelled Mobil stations around the world. This particular petrol station in Birstall was built and finished in 1978/79.

Stations over the years have often been refurbished and replaced with new covers. Many stations have closed down and been demolished as larger supermarkets have bought up forecourts. Experts say ‘it is extremely rare to find any remaining canopies of this design’.

A Noyes Gas Station in the USA, 1969. Note the aluminum cylindrical pumps in the back ground.
A Noyes Gas Station in the USA, 1969. Note the aluminium cylindrical pumps in the back ground.

Birstall petrol station today.

This remarkable station was extremely lucky when English Heritage granted it Grade II status in 2012. This will protect the garage for future generations.

Eliot Noyes died aged 66 in 1977 having pioneered the integration of business and design. Mobil merged with Exxon in 1999 and in the UK operates under the name Esso. The station was purchased by BP (British Petroleum) in 2013.

Leicester Birstall Filling Station
Leicester Birstall Filling Station Today

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Book Recommendations.

If you are interested in Leicester’s history then we recommend the following book (Click on the images or links below)

Leicester: A Modern History

“This lavishly produced book brings together an impressive amount of new historical research which seeks to answer this question, providing fresh interpretations of Leicester’s history since 1800. The chapters analyse the events, changes and characteristics that have shaped the city and given it its distinctive identity. The sights, sounds and smells of the city in the twenty-first century are products of cumulative layers of history, layers which are peeled back by a specially assembled team of historians, all of whom have lived and worked in Leicester for many years. The result is an important book which helps us to understand the city’s past, so that we may better understand the present and know how to approach the future. Above all, this fascinating volume demonstrates that Leicester is a quietly confident city built on firm historical foundations of which Leicester citizens of today can feel very proud.”

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Thomas Kirkup is an engineer in the Royal Navy. Born and raised in Leicester he is fascinated by the city's long and varied history. He also hates to discus himself in the third person, but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.

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