Britain By Car - A Motoring History

Markham Moor Service Station

Lightbox ImageA listed former petrol station with a distinctive hyperbolic paraboloid concrete roof.

Location
Alongside the southbound carriageway of the A1, at junction with A57 to Lincoln.

Date
Constructed 1960-61

Commentary
This former National Benzole petrol station, with its distinctive hyperbolic paraboloid concrete roof received Grade II listed status in March 2012. 

The roof was designed and built by the Lincoln architect Hugh Segar (Sam) Scorer, and Dr Hajnal-Kónyi, originally from Hungary, at a cost of £4,500.  Shaped like a saddle (and not unlike a Pringle crisp), the design is one of the few remaining structures of its kind and was commissioned by the former Lincolnshire Motor Company whose showrooms in Lincoln were designed by the same architects.

Concrete shell roofs were widely used in the mid fifties and early sixties, as steel was heavily rationed.  The strength of the roof lies in its shape and the way that the design enables it to carry loads.

In 1989, the filling station beneath the roof was removed and a Little Chef roadside restaurant constructed beneath the canopy.  However, in 2003, plans were announced to demolish the building in order to make way for a slip road to be constructed as part of a larger project to redesign the junction on which the restaurant stood.

The protests that followed this proposal caused the Highways Agency to reconsider its decision and the building was saved.  Although the roof now has listed status, the restaurant is closed.

Further details 
• English Heritage, www.english-heritage.org.uk
• Sam Scorer: A lesser known architect of the twentieth century, Karolina Szynalska, 2010
• Carscapes: The Motor Car, Architecture and Landscape in England, Kathryn A Morrison and John Minnis, Yale University Press, 2012.