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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 7th December 1956, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Petrol demand unaffected by higher cost

Despite the drastic increase of 1s 5d a gallon, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this week, motorists – at any rate in the Rushden district – have shown no sign of easing their demands for petrol.

Any hopes that the increase would impose a price “rationing” to dispose of the continual drain on the tanks already low in petrol were soon dispelled.

Local garages have, therefore, been forced to continue to impose rationing schemes of their own, either by limiting the amount sold to each customer, or selling to a hard core of “regulars” only, or by limiting the total amount for sale each day, and turning away prospective customers when that amount has been sold.

Even those garages selling to regulars only or limiting their total daily sales have mostly been forced to impose a limited on the amount sold to each customer – a ration of something like two gallons a time.

Mr. W. Johnson, proprietor of Johnson’s Motors in Washbrook Road, said that the drivers continued to come for petrol, irrespective of its price. They sold a certain quota each day opening at eight a.m. and in about two hours that quota had been sold.

No Deterrent

Townsends Garage, in High Street South, claimed to be “reasonably satisfying” their customers, but had the same story to tell – “The increase in price does not seem to deter them at all.”

Out of town, four miles south along the A6 road, the notices bearing the proud boast “always open – 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.” have disappeared from the approaches to the Souldrop Turn garage, where, however, efforts are still being made to serve all customers for as long as possible each day.

Two gallons a time can be obtained during the day, and at least one motorist was both surprised and relieved to find the garage open at about 9.30 in the evening – and was grateful for the half gallon allowed to him, which got him home for supper.

Tact Required

The job of petrol pump attendants has suddenly become one with a great deal of limelight on it, and one requiring considerable tact – particularly when a “non-regular” gets one gallon, and complains that the man in front was given two. Generally, however, motorists seem to have been well behaved, and although some have undoubtedly indulged in “pump-crawling” and others have hopefully taken empty cans along with them in hopes of getting them filled, they seem in this district to have been in a minority.

One point which bothers some motorists, and the pump attendants, is “what constitutes a regular customer?”

Drivers who do not use their cars a lot, and perhaps only call for petrol once every ten days or a fortnight, are afraid that they will be in difficulties when they go for the next lot, even though they may always use the same garage.


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