Hamilton’s first ever petrol tanker delivers

A grand day in the history of Hamilton – the first tanker delivery of petrol in the town.

But I wonder, now that we know the effects of motor cars and the ever increasing demand for roads and car parks, and fossil fuel pollution, would we hail this as a red letter day? Probably not. Every time I see a new jumbo tanker at the fuel pumps I cringe. Having said that, I only see them at the service station when I go in for fuel – hypocritical? Yes and no. But that’s enough of me torturing myself.

This was, in the day, yet another indication of Hamilton’s irrevocable progress. What day? We have no date on this photo and I have not researched the topic but judging by the cars on the new car posters in Tombs’ showroom it is early to mid 1920s. At the time petrol and other petroleum supplies were brought into Hamilton in drums, cans and bottles. Photographs from about the same time show fuel products, if not petrol itself, being unloaded from Roose’s P.S.Rawhiti II in smaller containers.

This photo was probably taken in the summer months about 9.30 in the morning. As you see, a band was out in full brass and, unusually,  is lead by trombones by the left. The chaps are not in uniform but they are instep. This was also in the days when Collingwood Street was very much the car sales and service station centre of Hamilton; the Ford dealer was just a few doors down yet this Studebaker dealer has ‘Ford’ above the doors.

But, the really interesting thing about this photo is the architecture used in Tombs garage. We so often look at photos like this and see the band and the tanker, possibly even the horse and buggy in the background, but how often do we see the architecture? This building has such a mix of styles including Ionic capitals on plain pilasters and the columns either side of the door are Tuscan – the least decorative of all the orders.

The building was after all originally built as a service station so Corinthian columns and capitals would be out of place (and too expensive) for a Ford dealer – maybe if they sold Rolls Royces or, better still, Rovers. The facade is at any rate a nod to classical orders and intended to look impressive. I wonder if it did impress those folk watching the parade?

In the photo below the fuel is (we suppose) being pumped into the underground tanks. We also get a close up view of the old petrol bowsers – not pumps in those days. The small bowser by the tanker is hand pumped.

And, a final thought – the Commercial Hotel (right) had a weatherboard cladding, but that’s another story.

Email Perry  – and if you really want to make his day, quote HCL_00178 regarding the band pic, and HCL_00179 for this great one just above.

Hamilton Central Libraries

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One thought on “Hamilton’s first ever petrol tanker delivers

  • January 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm


    I have found a large collection of photos of Hamiltron and Waikato Service Stations from the 1950’s up to the 1980’s and I am looking at finding more photos from the History of the Oil Companies in the Hamilton and Wailkato


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