Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 15:31 UK

When petrol's 'Fat Lady' has sung

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Lentran petrol pumps. Pic: Highland Council
The Gilbert and Baker 'Fat Lady,' (left) and Wayne 70 petrol pumps

On a farm near Inverness a "Fat Lady" stands decaying, her last song long since sung.

The Gilbert and Barker, also known by its unflattering nickname, is among a handful of petrol pumps listed on the Highland Historic Environment Record (HER).

The pump is in the Highland Council database along with entries on Pictish remains and medieval ruins.

With concerns over the survival of rural filling stations, a few have already been consigned to the history books.

Five sites are listed on the Highland HER.

All these pumps are becoming harder to find
Roger Baker
The Vintage Petrol Pump Company

There is a station and pumps at Brora, a filling station in Lybster, another in Nairn, a pump in Kilmnivaig in Lochaber, the "Fat Lady" and a second pump on the same farm in Inverness-shire.

The rusting Gilbert and Barker is described on the record as being in a very poor state and missing its globe on which the brand of fuel was advertised.

It is also missing its hose, though the hand-crank for pumping the fuel is still intact.

The second pump, believed to be an American-built Wayne Mod-70, is also falling to bits with string holding its casing together.

According to the HER, the final petrol licence was issued for the pumps in 1960 and expired in 1962.

In Brora, Sutherland, are two 1950s Avery Hardoll electric pumps.

Roger Baker, of restorers The Vintage Petrol Pump Company, said the Highlands was dotted with examples from bygone eras.

He said: "The T8 - also known by its nickname the 'Fat Lady' - was made by the American company Gilbert and Barker.

"It had factories in the USA, Canada and England and these pumps first appeared over here in the 1920s.

"There are not many left now, though we have a few of these old pumps."

Mr Baker said the Wayne 70 - which resembles a robot from a 1950s science fiction film - was electric and built in the 1940s.

On the Brora pumps, he said: "Avery is an English company, which is still going today, that started manufacturing in the 1920s and did well on the English market.

"All these pumps are becoming harder to find."

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18 May 09 |  North East/N Isles

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