It’s the end of an era, because the filling station closest to Autocar’s offices in Teddington, Middlesex, closed down for good yesterday.

Our local Shell station on the Kingston road is less than a mile from the office and for anyone traveling that way, it has proved invaluable for a quick splash ‘n’ dash on the way to work. Now it will be demolished and – surprise – turned into yet another housing development.

I pass the garage regularly and it always seemed busy, but I’m guessing the economic situation, allied to the demand for new houses and high potential property costs of this area of leafy Surrey, have forced the end for this enterprise.

Like the closing of any business, it’s a sad affair. When I stopped at the garage on Sunday afternoon, they only had V-Power fuel left, could only accept cash transactions and the shelves of the shop weren’t just bare – they were already dismantled. The assistant told me he had another job already lined up in nearby Twickenham, which is at least a glimmer of positive news.

This morning (Tuesday) the Shell signage is well on its way to being removed and soon it will be less filling station, more building site.

Of course, we’re not alone in losing our local pumps. Last month Palmer and Harvey, a retail wholesaler, reported that the number of petrol stations across the British Isles has plummeted to a record low of 8500. In 1991, there were approximately 21,000.