David Howard has kindly allowed me to use some of his Andover collection for this column and the first one is a striking image of London Street, taken by Terry Hunt of Basingstoke whose photographic work during the 1920s was superb.

We were by then in the early days of motoring, and in order to service the needs of motorists, garages selling petrol, offering repairs and retailing new cars were springing up all over the country - including Andover - in what today would be regarded as somewhat hazardous locations.

Here, on the left, we can see the Star and Garter Garage, run by William Joseph Huntley Lott, which filled up an otherwise vacant site next to the Temperance Hall as well as the shop building next door.

Lott ran the Star and Garter Hotel in the 1920s and these buildings were part of the hotel’s property.

The garage seems to have been set up around 1922, showing Andover was quick off the mark for sales of petrol from roadside pumps.

In earlier days, fuel was only sold in gallon cans from a motor garage or even an ironmonger.

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Petrol pumps became widespread but until 1927 that part of the garage business was largely unregulated and it was only after the passing of the Roadside Petrol Pumps Act in that year that the positioning of petrol pumps became licensed.

It is difficult to be precise about the date of the photograph, but it is probably just subsequent to the passing of the Act, so one must assume that the garage and the pumps shown here passed muster.  

The garage offered a complete range of services.

Besides stocking both Shell and BP petrol, pumped up from underground tanks, its plethora of signs show that it was an RAC approved repairer and specialised in the servicing of Austin vehicles as well as being an agent for sales and service of Citroen, Lea Francis, Renault and Singer models.

The vehicle on the left is a coal truck, being loaded up with shovelled coal from a small shed just beyond the garage; airborne coal dust would be unavoidable and the adjacent shopkeeper may have had something to say about that, as might the pedestrian in his smart suit, passing by the open truck just as the coal is being thrown in!

On the right-hand side of the picture is the corner of Cornelius’s boot and shoe shop, started by Henry Cornelius and continued by his sons Harry and George.

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The little shop near where the two women in fashionably short dresses and cloche hats are walking was that of Lily Thorne, the dressmaker, while beyond that is the Forester’s Arms.

Everything this side of the inn was demolished in the mid-1930s, almost certainly to widen the corner between London Street and Winchester Street, which was the scene of many accidents and it seems likely the garage went at the same time, having become too dangerous for vehicles to stop just there for re-fuelling.

Certainly by 1938, the garage was no longer there and a line of retail shops had replaced it.  

The three small units that replaced most of the garage were occupied until recently.

They can still be seen as empty premises but look destined for demolition soon.

The shop next door has seen a succession of different businesses over the years and is now Graham Sykes, the estate agents.

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London Street today is no longer a shopping area and is virtually a line of estate agencies.

However, that trend has been a long-term one; Frederick Ellen opened there in the 1860s and without interruption, his building (with the sundial) is still an estate agent to this day.

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