Closure end of an era for couple

Bittersweet goodbye . . . Allan and Kirsty Fiddes farewell their BP service station on the eve of the arrival of the demolition crew last week. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A Mosgiel service station is rubble but memories of nearly 16 years of business remain for a couple in the town.

Allan and Kirsty Fiddes, of Mosgiel, bought the BP service station and workshop Alco Motors, in Gordon Rd, in July 2002.

The “multi-armed business” also included an Automobile Association licensing booth, Mrs Fiddes said.

Mr Fiddes closed the station for the final time about 11pm last Thursday,on the eve of the arrival of the demolition crew.

BP Oil New Zealand has bought the business from the couple and been granted consent to demolish the existing buildings and build a 24-hour-a-day service station with a cafe and car wash.

The workshop had been sold as a going concern to Graham and Tania Osborne, and would be merged with G J Calder Motors in Gow St and rebranded Calder Alco Motors from April 21.

Some former Alco Motors staff have been employed by Calder Alco Motors, Mrs Fiddes said.

“We’ve tried to get our staff looked after – we have got the workshop boys sorted and the AA booth has been picked up by Paper Plus.”

Some of the “loyal” staff had worked with them for years, she said.

The business closing was “bittersweet”.

The couple were born and raised on the Taieri and had enjoyed owning a business which was part of the community.

The greeting of “100-odd people a day” would be missed, she said.

The couple prided themselves on being a service station where customers could get their petrol pumped and windscreens cleaned.

The decision to close was difficult, as the couple had investigated redeveloping the site themselves a few years ago but decided “we’ve done our dash”, she said.

Mr Fiddes said they would wait for the “dust to settle” before considering what to do next.

“We don’t have any plans,” he said.

Mrs Fiddes agreed.

“We are not going to rush into anything too quick.”

They were too young to consider retiring, she said.

One plan the couple had made was a family holiday in Rarotonga, with their three children, in June.

BP Oil New Zealand spokeswoman Anna Radich said demolition of BP Mosgiel began on Monday.

The new site was expected to be open by late July, she said.