THE LAST TIME that a person other than me put petrol into a car that I was driving was in August 2003 in South Africa, where self-service petrol pumps were then a rarity. In India, where I do not drive, vehicles are often filled by the garage attendants. Today (24th June 2021), we were driving along the A394 road in Cornwall when we spotted a petrol station, the modest-looking Double S Garage at Ashton, selling lower than average priced petrol. It was charging £1.26 per litre (currently the price of a litre in Cornwall ranges from £1.24 to £1.36).
I stopped by a pump and got out of the car, ready to operate the pump when an elderly man came out of the garage and on to the forecourt. Instead of having to fill the car myself, he filled it. While he was putting petrol into our car’s tank, I looked around and noticed that his small garage was filled with about five used cars, all with prices attached.
The most prominent car on sale was an aged Bentley, which the garage owner told me he had been driving for the past 15 years. The other cars in the small showroom-cum-garage included a vintage MG convertible; an old Jaguar sports car with a soft top; an Austin Seven complete with engine crank; and a very old looking Morris Minor. The owner, who had filled our car, allowed me to take photographs of his collection of old vehicles and appeared pleased when I told him that his garage was like a small motor car museum.
The Double-S is across the road from a small Victorian gothic chapel built with granite walls and a tiled roof. This is The Annunciation. It is the parish church of Breage with Godolphin and Ashton and is contained within the C of E diocese of Truro. The edifice was designed by the prolific church architect James Piers St Aubyn (1815-1895) and dedicated in 1884. The church is small but seen from outside, it is lacks architectural distinction.
We could have filled up at a superstore, where petrol prices are often not unreasonable, but I am glad that we patronised The Double S Garage, which must be amongst a diminishing number of fuelling places in England where the customer does not need to serve himself or herself. Also, it was fun finding the fascinating collection of vintage or almost vintage cars being stored close to the pumps. It is idiosyncratic experiences such as visiting this garage that help to make Cornwall a delightful place to visit.