Recently I received a visit from a reader of this magazine who has in interest in Garage Memorabilia as has many others that I know.
This reader has, in his possession, a plaque presented by the Shell Oil Company to Ganders Pty Ltd back in the mid to late 1960s. Apparently Shell presented such plaques to service stations or garages who sold their products for at least 25 years. Anyway this brought to mind the Service Station industry which has over the years changed somewhat and further changes are underway.
Did you know that the present day Caltex Service Stations are in the process of changing to the once well known “Ampol” brand? Caltex Australia does not own the portmanteau of “Caltex”, that name is owned by Texaco in the US. Texaco, which once owned Caltex Australia, has sold its shareholding in the company and has purchased the operations of Puma Petroleum a Queensland based service station chain and fuel distributor. The Puma Service Stations are to be rebranded as “Caltex” therefore the current Caltex stations need to be rebranded from Caltex and as Caltex Australia owns the brands of Ampol and also Golden Fleece they have decided to use the Ampol name on their service stations.
At one time service stations in Australia were independently owned and operated and sold a variety of brands. They were not locked into any one brand of fuel.
This also brings to mind many of the old brands of fuel or petrol what were once on the market. I doubt many would remember the old “Plume” petrol brand a major and popular brand of fuel, which eventually evolved into “Mobil”. Plume also featured Pegasus the winged horse that appeared on the Mobil signage. Mobil was a sister brand to Esso as both brands were part of the Standard Oil Company stable. Esso became known as Exxon in many markets of the world. But getting back to Australian brands that have disappeared. The Neptune Oil Company’s stations became Shell service stations after Shell acquired the company. Both Shell and Neptune had the slogan on their pumps of “with I.C.A” which meant “Ignition Control Additive”. British Petroleum (BP) acquired the Commonwealth Oil Refineries (COR) operations and for a while you would find both brands appearing at what were to be BP service stations. The two biggest Australian brands of Petrol and Service Stations were AMPOL and H C Sleigh’s “Golden Fleece” which as I have stated earlier after they were acquired by the then Texaco controlled Caltex Australia, Caltex is itself a portmanteau of “California & Texas”. I understand that Caltex, Esso and Mobil were all once part of the Standard Oil Company which was broken up by the US government’s Anti-trust legislation into separate independent companies much the same way the US government’s decided to break up the ATT Bell Telephone monopoly in telephone services across the US.
But back to Australian Service Stations, There has been various chains of independent service stations that have disappeared as well as there are also a number that are still operating. Can you remember the I.O.C. (Independent Oil Company) chain whose logo contained an Eagle. About the same time that the I.O.C. chain appeared the trade union movement or the ACTU started up the “Solo” chain of service stations. Both of these chains disappeared with Solo becoming part of AMPOL. Still we have the “United” and Hill & Co’s “Metro” service stations both operating as independent chains.
I hope that I have given you the “good oil” on what is happening or has happened in the Petrol Industry in this land
And if anyone knows of Ganders Pty Ltd I would be pleased if you can let me know who and where they were.