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Petrol Store, Pump and Vent to Underground Tank

A Grade II Listed Building in Ashton, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.4809 / 52°28'51"N

Longitude: -0.4133 / 0°24'47"W

OS Eastings: 507856

OS Northings: 288175

OS Grid: TL078881

Mapcode National: GBR FXZ.JB6

Mapcode Global: VHFNJ.SXD1

Entry Name: Petrol Store, Pump and Vent to Underground Tank

Listing Date: 17 December 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393630

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507411

Location: Ashton, East Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, PE8

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Ashton

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Oundlew Ashton

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough

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Listing Text


1743/0/10084 ASHTON WOLD
17-DEC-09 Petrol Store, Pump and Vent to undergrou
nd tank


Also Known As: Pump House, Ashton Wold
Petrol store, 1900-1914: designed by William Huckvale for Lord Rothschild and the Ashton Estate.

MATERIALS: Built of coursed rock-faced limestone, occasionally snecked, the interior lined with brick. The roof is reed thatched.

EXTERIOR: This is a small rectangular building with a hipped roof and a single entrance from the road to the south-east. This has a plank and batten door with a latch and strap hinges. In the opposite north-west wall is a plain glazed opening. There are vents below the eaves and just above ground level, the latter reflecting the fact that petrol vapour is heavy and sinks. Immediately to the north east of the building is the lower part of a 1920s cylindrical petrol pump, a tall cylindrical vent pipe and a manhole, evidence of an underground fuel tank.

INTERIOR: The brick floor of the interior is just below ground level, and there are two sets of shelves against the walls to north-east and south-west sides for the storage of petrol cans. The shelves are made of slate supported on iron legs; the narrower upper shelf rests on iron brackets. The north-west window opening is splayed, allowing the maximum of light to the interior.

HISTORY: The Ashton Estate, stretching from the River Nene near Oundle in the west to Ashton Wold in the east, has been occupied since Roman times. In the C18 it was a well-known sporting estate, with avenues of chestnut trees planted in a cross as rides, and a number of fox coverts. In the early C19 the estate was owned by William Walcot and was largely farmed by tenants, with Ashton Wold continuing as a sporting ground. However, there is no evidence that it had ever contained a manor house, and when in 1860 it was purchased by Lionel Rothschild the sale particulars described it as 'a very valuable and important landed estate', with sporting advantages, but no house adapted for the occupation of a gentleman. Both Lionel Rothschild and his son Nathaniel Mayer, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915), showed little interest in the estate, and the only structural work undertaken in the C19 was the building of a hunting lodge at Ashton Wold. However, when Lord Rothschild's second son, Nathaniel Charles (1877-1923) - known as Charles - discovered Ashton by accident whilst on a butterfly-collecting expedition with the vicar of Polebrook, he was so impressed by the rich fauna and flora of Ashton Wold that he persuaded his father to build him a house on the site of the hunting lodge. Lord Rothschild commissioned William Huckvale to design not only a house, but a model farm and an entire complement of estate buildings; these included the Steward's house, stables, gardeners' accommodation, a building to house a fire engine, the petrol store, kennels (now derelict) and a dog hospital. Most of the cottages at nearby Ashton were rebuilt to create a model village.

High quality design and workmanship were consistent themes throughout the estate, where vernacular building traditions - Collyweston stone slate and thatch roof coverings, steeply pitched roofs, tall chimneys, limestone masonry walling and dressings and mullioned windows were all faithfully referenced. Simple working buildings - cart hovels, wash houses and potting sheds - were consciously afforded the same care as were the dwellings, farmsteads and garden structures.

The petrol store is one of a number of service buildings to the north-west of the walled kitchen garden. Before roadside filling stations were introduced in the early 1920s petrol was sold in two gallon cans which for safety would have had to be stored in purpose built petrol houses. A popular motoring primer written by A B Filson Young advised that this should not be built 'adjoining ... stables, harness room, or the living room of the servants'. The petrol store at Ashton Wold is near the water tower and fire engine house. In the 1920s the building was superseded - or the fuel supply enhanced - by an underground tank immediately to the north, with vent and fuel pump. Although fuel at Ashton may originally have been required as much for the back-up diesel engines at the mill as for the family's motor cars, the introduction of a pump may indicate an increase in the number of motorised vehicles on the estate.

Little is known about William Huckvale (1847-1936) who worked mainly for the Rothschilds and therefore had no need to publicise his work in the architectural journals, and was not a member of the RIBA. After setting up his own practice in London he came into contact with Alexander Parks, agent to Lord Rothschild. He designed a number of buildings for the Rothschilds on the Tring Park estate, undertook considerable work at the Rothschild bank in New Court in the City of London, and was the architect for the Royal Mint Refinery. He also carried out work on the Rothschild estate at Aston Clinton. The quality of his work is reflected in the 42 listed buildings he already has to his name, 13 in Tring and 29 on the Ashton Estate.

Besides working full time at the family bank, Charles Rothschild was a renowned naturalist and a pioneer conservationist who became the leading expert on fleas in the country. His interest also included the cultivation of rare orchids, irises and water lilies, and this is reflected in the original design and planting of the formal gardens at Ashton Wold. However, he took care to ensure that the planting attracted butterflies and other wild life, and that much of the estate was left as woodland. He died in 1923. His daughter Miriam, who inherited the estate on her mother's death in 1940, continued both his work on fleas and his interest in conservation. However, her approach to gardening showed a preference for wildness over formality (an approach that was to become highly influential in the gardening world) and she transformed the Edwardian garden at Ashton Wold by planting trees on the terraces and sowing wildflower meadows on the lawns. She became an international expert on fleas in her own right, a fellow of the Royal Society, was awarded eight honorary degrees and appointed DBE for her services to the study of natural history.

SOURCES: Enclosure map of Lordship of Oundle with Ashton (1810), Northamptonshire Record Office 2858.
Map of estates belonging to William Walcot (1811), Northamptonshire Record Office 3703.
Map of Ashton Estate by Messrs Hayward, Surveyors (1853), Northamptonshire Record Office 1728a.
Catalogue of sale of Ashton Estate (1858), Northamptonshire Record Office ZB 706/24.
Map accompanying Conveyance of Ashton Estate to Lionel Rothschild (1860), Northamptonshire Record Office 5173.
Map of Ashton Wold (c1901), in Ashton Wold House.
Ordnance Survey maps 1886, 1900, 1926.
Rothschild, M, The Rothschild Gardens (1996), 82-107 & 169.
'The Hon. Nathaniel Rothschild', obituary in The Times, 15 October 1923.
'Dame Miriam Rothschild', obituary in The Guardian, 22 January 2005.
Filson Young, A,B, The Complete Motorist, Seventh edition,1907, p213.

REASON FOR DESIGNATION: The petrol store at Ashton Wold is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity and intactness: it is a rare and intact example of a very early petrol store, petrol tank and pump.
* Group Value: it forms an integral part of an important and unusually intact Edwardian model estate, and has group value both with its immediate neighbours and with the Ashton Estate as a whole.
* Architecture: it has special architectural interest for the high quality of design, craftsmanship and materials.
* History: it has special historic interest as a structure associated with the early days of motoring in Britain, built as part of an estate developed by members of the internationally important Rothschild family.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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