Having worked part time in Service Stations throughout my school life and into my early 20’s, it was probably natural for me to want a few souvenirs of what I regarded as fun times.
I remembered those great little tyre ashtrays (that were everywhere back then), so we got one, then another, and another. Our collecting days had begun.
My wife Sue and I were soon spending our spare time travelling to country towns, scouring second hand shops and attending swap meets. The collection grew, and soon included pumps, oil bottles, tins, signs, and yes, more ashtrays.
In the late 80’s we started our own business, a large part of which involved the installation and servicing of garage equipment. This resulted in us working in numerous garages and car dealerships throughout Victoria. We also contracted to a major oil company, during a time when a lot of service stations were still original sites, getting older, but not yet redeveloped into the (non) service stations of today.
During our work refurbishing these service stations, it was amazing how many old tins, bottles, oil racks and signs were simply thrown out behind the workshop or left in boxes in the oil room – unwanted and unloved. I was probably the most zealous of people working on these sites, happy to fossick in all the back corners and pull out any rubbish in the hope of uncovering what I saw as hidden treasures. The negotiations then began with the owner, who was usually very happy to part with them for a reasonable exchange, be it payment or some extra work or repairs they needed doing.
I remember working at one servo in Gardenvale (ex Golden Fleece) for several days, and after approaching the owner about some bottles in the oil room he said “yeah, just take them and you might find there’s more on the mezzanine over the office”. A happy day for the collector, finding boxes of bottles, New Old Stock pourers, Firezone bottles and tops, and even a light box lens.
Whilst we were out hunting for items for our collection one Saturday afternoon, we stopped in at the Glen Huntly Antique Centre and it was there that we met Derek Gibson. He had a stall in the back corner, selling antique books. We got chatting to him, and soon uncovered a common interest – Golden Fleece. Derek had worked at H C Sleigh for over 25 years and was a wealth of knowledge about the history and the brand. We spent many Saturday afternoons with him after that first encounter, listening to his tales of his days at H C Sleigh and the history of the company.
He would often have something from his private collection under the counter for us to look at, and we purchased many items from him over the years. This included ledgers, original photos, training materials, newspaper articles, staff news publications, documents relating to the opening of their new headquarters at Sleigh Corner, and various other internal paperwork, which together with his commentary, helped us to date and authenticate many items in our collection.
As well as being the Chief Training Officer for Golden Fleece, Derek was responsible for setting up the Golden Fleece pump museum, and if you look carefully in a photo which was published in the Golden Fleece Staff News, you can see an historical etching on the wall in the background which we purchased from him, and is included in our auction.
We thank Derek for entrusting us with so much history, and we hope that many of these items will now be passed on to collectors who share Derek’s and our passion.
In addition to collecting Garagenalia, we also have a love for motorsport, and were involved as officials over many years – Sue as a flag marshal, and myself initially flagging, and then moving to fire marshal. We were fortunate to be part of the first night F1 Grand Prix in Singapore, and with the collecting bug well and truly in us, we also picked up motorsport memorabilia in our travels.
Our collection has been enjoyed for many years in our home, with friends and fellow collectors. We love the diversity of the items we gathered, and the interest that the promotional and historical items added. We hope that you will enjoy having a part of it.