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Two iconic 1960s petrol stations listed

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Heritage minister John Penrose has given Grade II-listing to two petrol stations, recognised as ‘rare reminders’ of the UK’s motoring past

The canopy listings are part of a wider English Heritage project examining the impact of the motor car on the historic environment. In a statement, the organisation ppraised the duo for representing ‘a time when road travel captured the public’s imagination and the motorway was full of futuristic glamour.’

The Mobil canopies on the A6 at Red Hill, Leicestershire by American architect Elliot Noyes is thought to be the only surviving example of a series of ‘parasol’ structures commissioned in 1964.

The Markham Moor building in West Drayton, Nottinghamshire was constructed in 1960-61 and designed by British architect Sam Scorer with German engineer K Hajnal-Kónyi.

The landmark structure is part of a small coterie of UK buildings from the 1950s and 60s featuring a hyperbolic paraboloid shell still standing.

The Mobil canopies on the A6 at Red Hill, Leicestershire by Elliot Noyes. Image © English Heritage

Source: © English Heritage

The Mobil canopies on the A6 at Red Hill, Leicestershire by Elliot Noyes. Image © English Heritage

John Penrose, Minister for Heritage, said: ‘These petrol station canopies are splendid reminders of an era, not so long ago, when motoring was first becoming available to all, and a family car journey was very often an adventure in itself.  These designs were futuristic at the time and they continue to delight – they have clearly stood the test of time. 

‘Listing doesn’t mean they must remain unchanged for all time, but it does mean that they will now have an extra layer of protection against demolition or inappropriate redevelopment.”

English Heritage chief executive Simon Thurley added: ‘The advent of motor transport perhaps did more to change life in 20th century Britain than any other single invention. Yet today hardly any petrol stations or other buildings relating to the birth of motoring remain – almost all have been swept away and rebuilt many times over. These two new listed buildings will strike an immediate chord with many people today and symbolise to future generations some of the flair and exuberance associated with driving in the 1960s.’

As part of the English Heritage-backed project, a new book titled Carscapes: the Motor Car, Architecture and Landscape in England and written by John Minnis and Kathryn Morrison is planned for publication in the Autumn.

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