New pages

New and improved pages on the
European Petrol Road Map Web Site

This page shows the updates that were made to the PetrolMaps website during 2009; it gained another 56 map images and a further 6 brands over the year. Over the passage of time some of the links may no longer work if I have moved images to a new location (for example through splitting large pages), although most of the content of this website is permanent and can still be found by using its search facility.

2009 marked the sad death of Tim Nicholson, editor and cartographer (for the Reader's Digest), but above all an enthusiast for all maps, especially Victorian railway maps, cycling maps and pre-World War II commercial road maps from around the world.

Now on line:

Maps from the Golden Gate International Exposition
Although not in Europe (and not officially regarded as an Expo) the 1939/40 Golden Gate International Exposition gave West Coast Americans an alternative to making the trip to New York. And as with the larger East Coast event, oil companies saw an opportunity to promote trips to the Expo with special road maps. (Updated 29 December 2009)

Maps from two more Universal Expositions in Europe
Petrol and oil companies have often been tempted to issue maps for motorists planning to visit one of the periodic Universal Expositions. In some cases a single firm appears to have been granted a monopoly over the rights to promote the event, or has perhaps been the only one to seize the opportunity. Maps have now been found from two expos not previously known to have had oil company issues: the 1937 Exposition des Arts et des Techniques in Paris (from BP-Energic), and EXPO '98 in Lisbon (from Repsol). At the time of the events, both companies were only middle-ranking participants in their respective markets. (Updated 21 December 2009)

Climate Change
I am writing this on the first day of the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change. It may seem strange to some to have created a website commemorating maps issued by petrol companies that may have encouraged motorists to make unnecessary or even frivolous journeys. But it should be remembered that these maps are historical documents of their time and reflect the prevailing social and economic conditions. And the companies publishing them, by and large, were only trying to develop their business unaware of the environmental problems that might follow. This is not to deny the large contribution that motoring has made to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most of the oil burnt over the past century or so has been locked under the ground for tens of millions of years; combustion of this petroleum has led to CO2 levels higher than seen on earth for over 700,000 years. Given that CO2 is known to trap the sun's heat in the atmosphere, it should be no surprise that the consensus view is that man (and motorists in particular) have contributed to the small, yet significant rises in average global temperatures since 1900. If these rises are not to get out of control and lead to greater climate instability, including significant melting of arctic ice and associated sea level rises, then we will all have to cut down our energy use.

In particular, we need to review how we use and choose our cars; sometimes we may be able to avoid car journeys completely, for example by walking, cycling or using public transport. And those of us lucky enough to be able to select a new car can look closely at typical emissions - some models emit under 100g/km of CO2, but others use four times as much fuel (and four times the emissions). Of course, careful driving techniques and route selection may also help a little. This site has also reproduced tips for economical driving for many years, and a using a road map before setting out can help limit emissions.

Alternative fuels may not be the panacea that they were once thought to be. Hydrogen requires considerable energy in its production and is far from economically viable at present; LPG (or CNG) offers only limited savings compared to diesel (or even the latest petrol engines). Biofuels compete for land, often in the very countries where that same land is most needed for food, and diversion of US corn into bioethanol production has certainly led to significant food price rises in countries such as Mexico. Biodiesel can be damaging, especially if palm oil plantations are allowed to replace biodiverse rain forests in areas such as Southeast Asia.

Of course, biofuels are not a new idea. In the 1930s, a company was set up in Germany to manufacture ethanol for road use, principally from potatoes. And this website now shows a couple of maps that they produced...

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RKS (Reichskraftsprit) Maps
RKS was set up to produce bioethanol for blending with regular petrol. In order to help secure a market for its products, it was granted to right to build an extensive network of filling stations in Berlin, and two maps dating from 1932 and ca1936-7 have now been described. (Updated 7 December 2009)

The M1's 50th Birthday
The M1 celebrated its 50th Birthday on 3rd November 2009; the initial stretch had run from North London to Crick, near Rugby. Petrol companies were keen to promote this new fast road, and Shell and BP both issued a simple strip map to mark its opening, which included DO's and DON'Ts for motorists unfamiliar with driving at high speed. This new page also shows extracts from Esso maps from 1957 and 1959 showing the Northern end of the route. Much later, in 1975, Shell and BP returned to a strip map format for booklets showing all British motorways, including the M1, and their slightly different ways of mapping its Southern end are shown. (Updated 8 November 2009)

Star Road Atlases from Germany
Star is the brand used on a network of German service stations acquired a few years ago by the Polish oil company, PKN Orlen, following the purchase of Aral by BP. Two editions of a 144 page softback bargain-priced street atlas are known, dated 2008-9 and 2009. (Updated 31 October 2009)

The Green Road to the Blue Sea
This was the rather colourful title (Grüne Straße am Blauen Meer) used by Aral on its 1961 tourist map showing the route from Hamburg to Skagen in Denmark. It's not known why Aral issued at least 3 versions of this route, which cannot have been the most popular destination for German holidaymakers, even 50 years ago! (Updated 15 October 2009)

Mobil in Tunisia
Mobil operated for around 70 years in Tunisia, but its road maps are relatively uncommon. A second example has been added to the Tunisia page, probably dating from around 1970. (Updated 1 October 2009)

A mystery map from Shell
The mystery arises because a Shell map of Great Britain has been found produced by John Bartholomew & Son, not its regular cartographer of George Philip & Son. Dating from 1968, the map has a very plain design; it is possible that it was produced for distribution through the Touring Service rather than service stations as it lacks a cover price. (Updated 1 October 2009)

Duckham's historical maps, map cards and an Adcol map
The English lubricant company Duckhams has already had a number of atlases and route cards shown on this website. Now, in the first set of updates drawing on the late Tim Nicholson's collection (see box below), I am able to add another set of route cards, possibly dating from before 1910. I am also adding the first sheet map from the company, promoting its Adcol NP Oil introduced in 1926, and two later historical maps. The first of these is a facsimile reprint of Ogilby's Britannia strip maps (orginally published in 1675, but issued in a bound reduced scale edition by Duckham's in 1939 to celebrate its 40th birthday). The most recent is a Duckhams version of the Historical Map of the City of London, probably dating from around 1970. (Updated 25 September 2009)

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Tim Nicholson, my good friend and fellow map collector, died in June 2009. Tim was an author and expert on early motor cars - especially those made by Riley - as well as the editor of many of the Readers Digest's guides to Britain, where he was able to put his deep knowledge of what makes a good map to practical use. As a collector, Tim had an extensive knowledge of maps of all types, especially British maps and those of the 100 years up to 1939 and had often been able to show me maps that I had not otherwise seen. Some of these maps are now able to be scanned and included on this site for the first time. However, Tim will be very much missed by all those who knew him.

Adverts on Street Plans and Guides from SP Maps
Street maps can be found of most British towns. Although some were produced locally for free distribution by estate agents, commercial maps in light card covers have been sold by companies such as Service Publications (SP Maps). Some carried adverts from local service stations including a 1960s example for an Esso dealer in Bearsted, Kent (from the Maidstone map). (Updated 15 August 2009)

The first map dated 2010
It's about this time of year that I hope to find the first map dated for the following year, and once again it is an Aral issue, of their 2010 A4 format paperback atlas of Germany and Europe that is first onto the shelves. This now means that I have maps dated from 1904 to 2010 on this website... (Updated 14 August 2009)

A rudimentary station locator map from Kirol
In 1967, on my very first trip to Germany, we drove from Strasbourg-Kehl towards Tegernsee. One of the first service stations passed was branded Kirol - but proved to be the only one seen on that trip. A few years later I saw some more Kirol locations, but again in the Kehl area, so assumed that it was just a small local brand. I later learned that it sold out to the US firm Occidental (OXY), but have never found a map or any more information about the company. Until now, that is... I have recently found a small free magazine called Fahr Mit, which we sponsored by Kirol and overprinted by the exact filling station that I saw 42 years ago. What's more, this magazine carries a Kirol advert on the rear showing a rudimentary locator map, revealing that there were 28 locations when it was published in 1963 and, although there were a cluster near Kehl, Kirol petrol stations could be found across most of Western Germany from Kiel in the North to Bavaria in the South. (Updated 14 August 2009)

Gamage Oil Advertising
Back in the 1920s, Gamages - the large department store in Holborn, London EC1 - were also a significant supplier of motor oil. They took an advert on The Pictorial Weekly Sectional Atlas of Great Britain. (Updated 16 July 2009)

Recent Dutch Shell atlases
Shell is the only company in the Netherlands to maintain a map programme. As of 2009, four sheet maps (Netherlands, Belgium/Luxembourg, France and Germany) are sold along with a softback street atlas (Stratenboek). In the mid 1990s, this was augmented by a paperback atlas of Benelux. This first edition of this latter atlas and the latest (2008) edition of the Stratenboek have now been added to the site. (Updated 10 July 2009)

A German Shell atlas of the Czech Republic
Also relatively recent, dating from around 1998, a German Marco Polo/Shell EuroAtlas of the Czech Republic has been added as an example of a cross-border issue to complement the locally produced atlases previously shown on this page. (Updated 10 July 2009)

Two special BP maps from the early 1960s
I have added two more non-road maps from BP in Great Britain. The older is an earlier version of its foldout map showing selected British Racing Circuits. The younger, dated 1963, is a waterways map with one side showing the Norfolk Broads and the other a small scale overview of inland waterways. (Updated 8 July 2009)

Die General Karte of Denmark
The Shell/Die General Karte are a series of reasonably large scale sectional maps of Germany and Austria, published by Mairs, Stuttgart. At some point the series was extended to include Denmark and although on widely on sale in Germany, an example from 2000 has been added to the Shell Denmark page. (Updated 4 July 2009)

A map of Wels from a BP dealer
Maps produced by or for individual service stations are quite uncommon, but an example has been found overprinted for a dealer in Wels, Austria. The underlying map is a town plan from the German publisher Städte-Verlag, a company that is also known to have overprinted a map of Freiburg for two Aral stations. (Updated 2 July 2009)

A 2008 map of Benelux for Octa+ pass cardholders
Most relatively recent maps are primarily designed to locate service stations in a particular chain; a very recent example is a December 2008 example from the independent Belgian brand Octa+, which also marks locations of Avia, DCB, Power and Texaco stations. (Updated 30 June 2009)

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I am afraid that computer problems compounded by relocation of my entire collection have led to a long gap in updates to this site. But hopefully I will be able to add more maps again soon - and in the meantime I have corrected a few links. (Updated 15 June 2009)

A map of Samos (Greece) produced for Hertz & Texaco
There have been few known oil company maps of Greece since the early 1970s, but a mid to late 1990s map of Samos has been found which was jointly produced for Hertz and Texaco. Most likely it would have been given away to Hertz's rentacar customers, but was also used to promote Texaco's CleanSystem3 fuels. Although undated it must have been produced between the introduction of CleanSystem3 in 1994 and Texaco's sale of its Greek assets to Shell in 2000. (Updated 15 February 2009)

The first Paz map of Israel
Paz was only established in 1958 following Shell's sale of its Israeli assets, and a Paz road map from that same year, pasted into red cloth covers, has now been identified. (Updated 15 February 2009)

More recent maps of Poland
The country page for Poland has now been updated to include four twentieth century maps, from BP, Shell, Jet and Lukoil, which acquired Jet's chain in 2007. (Updated 10 February 2009)

Paz (and Shell) on ZVI Friedlander maps
ZVI Friedlander was a major cartographer in the early years of Israel, based at Haifa. Three examples of their maps have been added to the SE Mediterranean page - a mid 1950s example promoting Shell, a 1962 issue prepared specifically for Shell's successor company, Paz, and a 1966 town plan that marked the location of Paz filling stations. (Updated 1 February 2009)

AVIA advertising on a Falk-plan of the Netherlands
Falk-plan patent folded maps have long been popular in the Netherlands and were produced under licence by Cartografisch Institut Bootsma in the 1960s. An issue has now been found that carries AVIA advertising on the rear cover; it is not certain if this was simply an advert on a regular map or a special edition produced for the AVIA network of independent fuel distributors. (Updated 28 January 2009)

Turkish maps
The page of Turkish maps has been extended and now shows a 1969 Shell guide available in English or German, a 1972 Mobil guide also available in both languages and, also from Mobil, an additional sheet map (in English) and a map of Istanbul (in German). The corporate history of Turkish petrol companies on the page has also been updated to include some recent takeovers and branding changes. As there are no recent petrol company map issues, a leaflet incorporating a very rudimentary sketch map has been added from Kartaltepe Petrol, a small Petrol Ofisi distributor. (Updated 24 January 2009)

A Cepsa atlas
Some years ago I was sent a photograph of a Cepsa atlas, still in its cellophane wrapper (and so suffering from reflected flashlight). I had hoped that one day I would be able to get the real atlas, but it was not to be, so I have finally added the image, flaws and all! (Updated 5 January 2009)

A Century Oils atlas
Century Oils was a British lubricants specialist, later acquired by Fuchs. In 1976 it arranged for George Philip & Son to provide bespoke covers to a National atlas of Great Britain, probably for distribution to corporate customers, not the general public. (Updated 1 January 2009)

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Text, "new" icon and layout © Ian Byrne, 2004, 2009

All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.