At first glance this 1930’s filling station tucked away on a country road in Northern England is unspectacular. Yet visitors to the Willow Bridge Service Station are treated to a collection of dilapidated cars and rotting caravans scattered around the property.

Willow Bridge is not abandoned, and is still very much in business. However today it only serves decomposition, diesel, and rust. The station lacks a fantastic history, but it does host a few dozen abandoned vehicles collecting moss and succumbing to the local flora.

England-based photographer Guy Carpenter has captured the decay in detail and shares his images of those brave conveyances who elected to stay behind to confront a ferrous fate. 

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photos courtesy Gullwing Photography

Map it!

Willow-Bridge-Service-Station-2The Willow Bridge Service Station is in rural Newton Morrell, about five miles from Darlington and seven miles from Richmond in northern England.

The station occupies a 1.75-acre plot on “the old Great North Road” (subsequently known as the A1), a road which connects Barton and Stapleton. While the road is not a major thoroughfare, it is an arterial route between the communities.

Details online about the station are scant, although local lore does fill in the gaps. According to our photographer, the station has sat in this condition for as long as he can remember.

A search of the station’s history indicated there might be a relationship between the Blackwell Grange Golf Club and the Willow Bridge Garage.  From 1994 to 1998 a gentleman named Campbell Brown Dawson (b.1940) was employed by the Golf Club while apparently serving as the director of the garage.

Willow Bridge Service Station

Digging deeper yielded that the same Mr. Dawson was nominated for the Conservative Party in the District of Richmondshire’s Barton Ward and later served as Ward Councillor for the Newton Morrell Parish.Willow Bridge Service Station

As recently as 2006, Willow Bridge was serving as a Q8 station.

According to a recent real estate listing, the longtime owner has retired, and the station – while still open – appears to offer a fraction of the goods and services it did decades prior. The previous owner reportedly operated the business for fifty-five years and resided with his family in the living quarters above the station, a three bedroom residence.

Willow Bridge Service StationDownstairs was an office and small retail area which sold cigarettes and snacks. Out back the shop also had a three-ton, four-point lift used to service all varieties of cars and travel trailers passing through the area.

Caravan storage was a side endeavor for extra income. Recently it was reported as many as twenty-three units were registered in storage. The property officially has room for up to forty, each stored at £150 per annum.

Of course, some of the campers appear as if the owners will not return.

Willow Bridge Service Station

photos courtesy Gullwing Photography

Willow-Bridge-Service-StationDuring its peak years Willow Bridge had three operating petrol pumps and one diesel pump, however only the diesel is still in operation today. Our photographer reports it usually runs about 10p higher than everywhere else.

The business might seem closed, but it runs regular hours of 8:00 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday. It is closed on Sundays.

Although its listing has been removed by the seller, an advertisement for the property displayed an asking price of £465,000 (nearly $700,000 USD).

Before you rush to judgement on the asking price, consider the £6,000 annual caravan storage income potential, and that the sale would include all the site’s algae and moss.

Do we hear an opening bid?

Willow Bridge Service Station

Thanks to Guy Carpenter of Gullwing Photography for the photos. View the rest of his set here.

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Want more old cars? Check out our post on Old Car City U.S.A.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. It’s not that often we get to see an article about a place outside of the USA. Nice photos from Guy and thank you Mister Sometimes Interesting for the work you put into this site, many of us love coming here to learn about places and history we’d never thought about looking up ourselves.

    • Cheers Alan, thanks for reading! I’m happy to bring some international flavor to your reading diet. I think the key is to feature places off the beaten path, or at least not found in Fodor’s or Lonely Planet. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  2. Reminds me a bit of the story we did on Old Car City here in Georgia a couple of years back. Now, I just need to figure out how to make money from iron oxide!

    • Yessir, it absolutely reminded me of that story with your excellent photos! I had to include a link to it at the bottom of this one in case others might want to see our Old Car City story as well.

      You also had a fantastic set of photos (and I’ll admit it, the photos really tell these stories, not the words). I’m just glad you guys were able to put together such a great collection of shots. Without them, there’s not much to see here. 🙂

  3. I have a bit of a fetish for disused petrol stations. They’ve often been literally passed by as the road they rely on becomes less used.

    I also lived in Darlington… although I don’t remember going past this place.

    • It looked unspectacular when I checked it out in Google street view, so I’m not surprised. The old cars and abandoned caravans appear to be behind the large bushes/hedges in front. So if you weren’t actively looking for those cars you would have a good chance of missing them. And agreed on the disused petrol stations – each time I saw one when I was younger, I would pull over and take a photo of my car at the pump. 🙂

  4. Thanks Alan. Glad you like the photos and piece. All the text and research is MSI, so many thanks to him for that. I’ve got a couple of other pieces local to me that I’m hoping to get done and ready for SometimesInteresting this winter – just need a bit of time to work on them!

  5. Iron oxide sounds like a useful thing. However I’ve noticed we have plenty of our own here in the USA. I’ve always loved stopping and staring at old service stations as we travel. Oddly I never seemed to take photos and now most are gone.
    My mind has even wandered to thoughts of restoring one of the early American filling stations and making it our home.
    Those Willow Bridge cars don’t turn me on but I do enjoy seeing old RV’s of any type. Thanks.

    • Hi Model T, great to hear from you again. So you’re saying the OPEC-era five-door hatchbacks with 1.4 liter motors and 60 hp don’t do it for ya? 😉
      I’m one of those types who pulls over every time I see a run-down service station. But you’re correct, there aren’t too many left (near urban areas anyway). Cheers.

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