The owner of Derbyshire’s oldest petrol station says he wouldn’t be able to afford to buy diesel from his own pumps. Ross Molloy runs RGM Brailsford Garage, which has been refuelling vehicles since 1895.
As fuel prices have increased over the past year, Ross spoke about how difficult it has been for independent, local fuel stations. He acknowledged that although some facilities may be marking up their prices to increase their profits, for the majority the hike is needed to simply break even.
Ross said: “People blame the retailer, like me. They are saying you are putting up the price, you are cashing in. I’ve been making about 3p a litre profit on diesel and Esso down the road are selling it cheaper than I can buy it for. I usually sell for around 10p more than Esso. I have to put it up because it comes to me at a high price. I’ve almost been giving it away to be honest, and that’s why there aren’t many small garages left.”
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Ross says his higher prices are down to the fact that his supplier for diesel would prefer him to buy a larger quantity of fuel, as opposed to the much smaller amount the garage requires.
Explaining this, Ross said: “I can’t buy large amounts because modern fuels don’t keep. Diesel keeps for two or three months and then it is starting to go off in a tank. The amount I sell, if I bought 5,000 litres, which is what they want me to buy, it would be in the tanks for months before I sold it. I can’t buy a large amount because it won’t keep, so I have to buy a smaller amount which is more expensive and I am hardly selling any of it.”
Amid the increase in fuel prices nationwide, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced today (March 23) a 5p fuel duty cut, which will last until next March. Although this is the biggest ever cut to fuel duty, motoring groups like RAC believe this won’t make a big difference to motorists given the rocketing rise in fuel prices.
Ross said: “Anything is better than nothing, but the amount of tax we pay on fuel, to be honest it’s just going to be a drop in the ocean. Yes it cancels the rise in price, but not by a lot. For the likes of me, if the Chancellor knocks 5p off, it isn’t going to make much of a difference.”
Unfortunately, over the Christmas period a vehicle drove into the diesel pumps at the garage and they are yet to be repaired. But even before the accident, Ross was unable to afford his own diesel. Now, with the prices soaring further, Ross is unsure whether it is worth fixing the pumps.
He said: “At the moment I am weighing up whether it is even worth getting them repaired for the amount I make out of it. It upsets me because this is the oldest petrol station in Derbyshire – 1895 is when this place started selling fuel and although I don’t make anything out of the fuel, I don’t want to be the last person to sell fuel at the oldest petrol station in Derbyshire.”
For the time being, RGM Brailsford Garage remains Derbyshire’s oldest active petrol station but for how much longer, only Ross knows. A popular station with locals, with many reviews praising Ross’s “passion for his work”, it would be a great shame for a piece of Derbyshire history to disappear.