In the spirit of science, I undertook an experiment today.
You’ll have read earlier in this column that the financial behaviour of our local BP petrol station was slightly odd – that business of pre-pay pumps in the middle of the day…and how the demand for pre-payment seemed to be a variable thing.
Well, today I dressed precisely as I had done on the last visit – a couple of Saturdays ago. I presented to the same pump, with the same car, at the same time. The only variable was the lady behind the service desk – the one who controls the door switch and the petrol pump remotes.
I put the nozzle in the tank, pumped in $ 38 of fuel, and went into the station to pay. The electronic terminal was a little slow but eventually it all worked well. I exchanged a pleasantry with the lady and came home.
It would appear that she is more confident in her position…or less arbitrary in her behaviour…than the other lady who served previously. Bravo. I shall look closely in the future to see who is behind the desk to avoid another affront. And there is always Shell down the street.
And I don’t mean a scout car. I mean the investigative scale modelling ferret who has a sniff of a good thing and starts to use all the resources to hand to find out where the smell is coming from.
The heading image is a screen shot taken off a website that deals with historic trucks here in Australia. It shows a Southern Cross Petroleum filling station in the Melbourne suburb of Clifton Hill in 1927. Like the other two similar images on the site – from Malvern and Hawthorn – it shows a standardised form of building. The architect, L.M.Perrott must have made the plans available for a number of builders.
The petrol station is distinctive and gorgeous – and I want to make one for my diorama collection. It would be perfect for the old model cars of the period – the Fords and Reos. 1:18 is imminently do-able, if only one could get the basic dimensions and some more detail shots. The search is on.
Up to now, research has been conducted with Google Earth – an effort made to find the original plots where the stations were sited. It’s not as easy as you’d think… 90 years time makes for a lot of knocking down and rebuilding.
Clifton Hill is gone entirely – replaced by a modern block of units – even the gasometer seen in the photo went a long time ago. It was the best way of finding the actual corner as it featured in histories of Melbourne civil services.
Hawthorn still has a petrol station on the likely site, but the buildings are so modern and scrappy as to suggest that the old station was carted away in a skip.
Malvern has a Shell station there and it looks as though there is a building on the site – re-roofed and hedged in and re-windowed and generally pulled about…but it might just be the original structure now sadly down at the back of the lot. I am hoping it is so, and will be ferreting around it when i am next in Melbourne. I’m prepared for disappointment but the chance of measuring the original dimensions will make all the difference to a good model.
Wish me luck.