There’s a deep personal connection to this image, for Susan Bailey, as the silhouetted figure beside the car in the garage is her grandfather, James Western. The sight of the petrol pumps, garage doors and Esso sign brings back many memories.
“I’d know that was granddad anywhere,” she says, “by the way he’s stood, and he always had that hat on.”
The Westerns had a post office and general stores in Burrington, and they sold everything – well, nearly everything. It was a drapers, hardware shop, they had wellington boots, china for wedding presents, ammunition for guns and medicines. James was a cobbler too and he had the first generator for the village, in the days before mains
And it wasn’t the only shop, there was another across the road. These shops and the post office have now all gone, although a new community shop launched last year and a post office van visits twice a week. These days, when we’re used to pulling up at purpose built supermarket petrol stations, it’s hard to imagine that not so long ago people would get their petrol from little village shops like this; what’s more, you’d never be expected to help yourself.
Susan said if anyone wanted petrol they’d go through the garage to the back of their house and knock on the door. One of the family would pop out and fill up – even the children, including Susan, if needs be.
The Esso sign would no doubt be a vintage collectable now, an iconic trademark; when Susan sees it she thinks of the Esso Tiger Tails promotion, fake tails which motorists would tie to their petrol tanks.
Many villages had one or two notable trees, often in the centre or at a crossroads; as the years go by their roots would push up through the surrounding concrete. The oak at Burrington is still standing and is a landmark in its own right, loved by the locals.
The notice board seems quite small, and needless to say was replaced over the years and moved to a more practical site.