Thanks to...

Thanks are due to many people for help and encouragement on this site. Of these I must single out the late Tim Nicholson who had a wealth of knowledge about commercial cartography, and was always willing to share it. He also managed to source many of the less common maps in my collection, and will be much missed by all UK sheet map collectors. An appreciation of his Tim's life (PDF file) is included on the website of the Charles Close Society.

Next, thanks are due to those who have supplied with images. I would dearly like to have some of the more unusual maps shown on these pages, but am pleased that the following people amongst others have willingly scanned their own maps for inclusion and often provided me with additional information about the history of the various oil companies:
  • Thomas Been
  • Michel Breugelmans
  • Alexander Drews
  • Alan Eastlund
  • Wilhelm Feuer
  • Dennis Frajevich
  • David Hawkins
  • Richard Horwitz
  • Etienne Houdoy
  • Dave Leach
  • Roy Mårtensson
  • Michal Okonek
  • Pascal Pannetier
  • William Phillips
  • Hermann Rauh
  • Jon Roma
  • Bob Silver
  • Dennis Toth
  • Juha Tuulaniemi
  • Oliver Wileczelek
  • Walt Wimer, Jr.
1965 Shell Map of Cote d'Azur A 1965 Shell map from the part of France I visited that year on my first trip outside the UK.
Special thanks are due to those who have helped me with the translations: Enrico Audisio, Michel Breugelmans, George Kollias, Christian Krutzke and Pascal Pannetier. Several of the above have their own websites, which can be reached through my links page. I am also indebted to Guy Kudlemyer for letting me re-use his Glossary of Gas Station Terms, many of which relate to things about which I have no knowledge whatsoever!

And a special thank you is due to those petrol companies and cartographers who have freely provided me with maps for inclusion on this site. I will not name them, in case it opens a flood of "me-too" requests for free maps, but their assistance is greatly valued. However I must single out the National Library of Scotland for making its 1919-47 Interactive Map of Britain freely available to be embedded on this website.

Thanks are also due to a number of people who have pointed out errors and omissions (including some past and present employees of oil companies), and to the various dealers and sellers of maps, especially those who have been prepared to look out for maps for me that otherwise they might have thrown away. I'm also extremely grateful to those Daily Telegraph readers who freely sent in maps to raise money for the MacIntyre Charity in 1998 (and to the Telegraph's Honest John for including the appeal in his column).

Historical Sources

Top of PageI have attempted to give a brief summary of the development in Europe for most of the brands on this site. Some people have asked me what my principal sources have been; the answer has to be "varied". The key sources for the more recent information are:

  • the Financial Times
  • Petroleum Review
  • Erdölinformationsdienst
but these are augmented occasionally by other newspapers, including The Times, and periodicals such as Fuel Oil News and NPN International.

Company Reports and Accounts are sometimes helpful, as are - increasingly - their own websites. Where there are officially sanctioned company histories, these can be most helpful, although most seem to dwell on the upstream side. Nonetheless, the following have proved useful:

AGIP Mattei Oil & Power Politics, Faber & Faber, London 1966
AZUR Un Siècle d'Industrie Française du Pétrole, Desmarais Frères, Paris, 1961
BP BP Fifty Years in Pictures, BP, London, 1959
Adventure in Oil, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1959
Geschichte der Deutschen BP, 1904-1979, Hamburg, 1979
Portrait in Oil, James X James, London, 1995
British Petroleum and Global Oil, 1950-1975: The Challenge of Nationalism, Cambridge University Press, 2000
BP 100 The first hundred years in pictures, 2009
BURMAH A History of the Burmah Oil Company, Volume II, Heinemann, London 1988
CONOCO (Jet) Conoco The First 100 Years, Dell, New York, 1975
DEA 100 Jahre RWE-DEA, RWE-DEA, Hamburg, 1999
DUCKHAM'S The Duckham's Story - A Century of Fighting Friction, Haynes Publishing, Sparkford, 1999
FINA Petrofina - un Groupe Pétrolier International et la Gestion de L'Incertitude, Ed. Peeters, Louvain, 1997
MOBIL (GB) Mobil into the second century, Mobil, London, 1985
OK/IC Olja i Samköp, Rabén & Sjögren, Stockholm, 1967
Detta är OK, OK, Stockholm?, 1984
SHELL Bearsted: A biography of Marcus Samuel, Kelley, New York, 1970
The Royal Dutch Petroleum Company 1890-1950, Nijgh & van Ditmar, The Hague, 1950
A Century in Oil, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1997
(and successors)
Titan - the Life of John D. Rockefeller, Little Brown & Co, New York, 1998
Standard Oil the first 125 years, Motorbooks International, Osceola, 1996
TEXACO/CALTEX The Texaco Story the first 50 years, Texaco, New York, 1953
TOTAL La Compagnie Française de Pétroles du franc-or au pétrole-franc, Plon, Paris, 1962
1924/99 The Story of Total, Energies (magazine), Paris, 1999

Among other books describing the wider oil industry, I should single out Anthony Sampson's "The Seven Sisters" (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1975) and, although somewhat long in the tooth now, Christopher Tugendhat's "Oil - the Biggest Business" (Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1968), both of which helped to kindle my interest in the subject. Of those books looking at petrol stations as more of a sociological phenomenon (or from a nostalgic viewpoint) three European titles stand out: from Germany, Berndt Polster's Super oder Normal and from Sweden, Olle Wilson's Full Tank! and Staffan Bengtsson & Göran Willis's K-Märkt på väg. There are of course many more such books about US Gas Stations and many of these are listed in Guy Kudlemyer's bibliography which is also maintained on this site.

Yellow pages have proved an invaluable resource, although not always reliable in terms of identifying actual branding! Among other directories, Who Owns Whom? was consistently useful for over 25 years, and the FT Oil & Gas Directory (formerly Skinner's) has been helpful. Jane's Major Companies of Europe was valuable when I first started gathering information.

Of course, my spare bedroom cannot have all the above resources on tap! I am indebted to libraries, notably the City of London Business Library and the library of the Energy Institute (formerly the Institute of Petroleum), as well as at various times over the past 35 years the main libraries in Oxford, Holborn, Milton Keynes, Bournemouth and the Kent County Library. I would also like to thank again the individuals named above, several of whom have helped me out with missing links of history. As always, errors are my own, especially where I have observed changes of branding and drawn the wrong conclusion.

My final thanks...

Top of PageAnd finally, I must thank my long-suffering wife, Karen, for putting up with me (a) hunting out every shop in Britain (or so it seems) that might just possibly sell a few maps, (b) stopping at likely filling stations in obscure European towns in the hope that they may still have a few maps hiding in a rack, and (c) losing me to my computer while I have been creating this web site!

Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look like that) I would put my finger on it and say, "When I grow up I will go there".

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)

Like Conrad's hero, I grew to love maps as a child. My first acquaintance was with a book of street maps marking the route of the 1962 Milk Race (for cycles) which I was given to draw on as - unusually for the era - it was only printed on one side of each page. But I found great delight in extending the town plans, building imaginary suburbs for future cycle races to explore. It was natural that when we first ventured abroad in the 1960s, I volunteered to be the navigator.

This site is therefore dedicated to the memory of my father, without whom I would never have gained my love of maps and travelling hopefully, or my knowledge of what can be found along the roads of Europe. He first took us across France in 1965 and before long I was proud to be guiding us on journeys ranging from Lisbon to Lidköping and Duncasby Head to Dubrovnik, with (most often) a Shell map on my knee.

1965 Shell map showing Lisbon
Lisbon (Lisboa)
1965 Shell Portugal
Litografia de Portugal
1962 Shell map showing Lidkoping
1962 Shell South Sweden
Kartografiska Institutet
1969 Shell map showing Duncasby Head
Duncasby Head
1969 Shell Northern Scotland
George Philip & Son
1964 Shell map showing Dubrovnik
1964 Shell Yugoslavia

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Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2000-13

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