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Navigation aidREGENT

ZIP, Watsons

Brief History

In 1913, Trinidad Leaseholds was formed to develop oil properties on the West Indies island of Trinidad. It soon built a refinery there, but lacked dedicated sales outlets, so in 1930 it acquired a small independent distributor of petrol in Britain, Burt Boulton & Haywood, which used the Regent brand name, named after its base in East London at Regent Wharf. After the War in 1947, when pooling arrangements ceased, Trinidad Leaseholds and Texaco (which had been operating in Britain since 1916) agreed to merge their interests under the Regent brand. Within twelve months, Texaco passed its interest in Regent to Caltex - which became the brand used elsewhere in Europe. During the 1950s it became clear that a UK refinery was needed, so Texaco acquired the Trinidad Oil Company (as it was now called) to end up with a 75% stake in Regent. When Caltex was broken up in Europe in 1967, Texaco replaced Regent at 4,000 or so outlets, with just 147 switching to Chevron, its former partner. After more than 35 years of disuse in the UK, the Regent name was revived for use at stations supplied by Texaco authorised distributors from around 2004, and is currently used in preference to Team Spirit or Proteus, although the rights to the brand have been sold to GB Oils, a subsidiary of the Irish company DCC.

Maps: Regent

Regent maps are relatively uncommon, possibly reflecting low sales at its rather downmarket service stations (and the fact that its post-war maps were more expensive than its competitors').

The oldest known Regent maps are in this pre-war hardback volume, titled Regent Super Road Maps. It contains 26 pages of maps, 10 of town plans and four of third party adverts, as well as a foreword by Sir Malcolm Campbell, road signs, index marks and summaries of motor laws and foreign permits and traffic regulations. The maps, at 10 miles to the inch, were prepared by Edward Stanford, but the volume was copyright by Serials & Sport Ltd, publishers of The Field. It is undated, but the Berlin State library has a copy attributed to 1935.
Images courtesy David Hawkins

ca1935 Regent Super Road Maps book Advert from ca1935 Regent Super Road Maps book
ca1953 Regent Section 3 of England and Wales The map left is from a rare series of six regional touring maps of England and Wales. Probably from 1953, they are noteworthy for showing many points of interest described in a full gazetteer on the reverse and having 20 small town plans in the margins. Each section's cover is a different colour, but the maps inside are a quite simple design at 6 miles to the inch. These sheet maps were not sold for long as they cost four times as much as the clearer Esso maps, so sales must have been low.
From around 1953 Regent concentrated on selling a single spiral bound atlas of Great Britain at 10 miles to the inch.
1953 Regent Atlas of Great Britain
early 50s Regent Road atlas of Great Britain mid 50s Regent Road Maps of Great Britain ca1958 Regent Road Maps of Great Britain ca1959 Regent Road Maps of Great Britain 1960 Regent Atlas of Great Britain

The country was covered in 30 small sections (including two for London) arranged so that each sheet was about 0.2 inches wider than the one before, for easy access to the required page. All maps were drawn by Geographia and only the 1960 edition (far right) was dated. The first edition cost 2/6d; later ones a shilling more. It is possible that the very first edition was a special version to mark the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 (top right). There are actually significant variances within each edition; later first editions cost 3/6d, were laminated in cellophane and had a different rear cover. The second edition comes with two different maps of London - a simple planning map and a more detailed street map of central London. The third edition is superficially similar to later second editions, although the Regent logo is shown on a black square background. The fourth edition is similar to the third, except that the background in now predominantly red; it has the same banjo sign rear cover as the second and third ones. The final edition (above right, coded 1960) includes examples of (short-lived) motorway signs. The middle three editions are described as "road maps" and the first and final as being a "road atlas". All the Regent sheet maps and atlases on this page were specially prepared for the company by Geographia Ltd.
Coronation atlas image courtesy Richard Horwitz

ca1961 Regent map of Great Britain - South Sheet

The final spiral atlas and the first sheet map (left, estimated at 1961) used a design almost identical to that of Caltex maps from Europe in the same period. Britain was divided into two sheets, each at 9 miles to the inch, and sold for a shilling. The later example (right) comes from approximately 1964 and uses a design unique to Regent. However around this time they introduced a Greater London route map (far right), which was backed by a large scale map of central London.

ca1964 Regent map of Great Britain South ca1965 Regent map of London
ca1965 Regent map of Scotland

From around 1965, Regent also sold to a series of five sectional maps at 5 miles to the inch (except Ireland). The Greater London map refers to this series being sold alongside the two smaller scale maps, as well as a "pictorial map of London". Most commonly found in the dull, bluey-green covers, their final version showed both the Regent and Texaco logos on the cover and referred to "Regent Oil Company, a Division of Texaco Ltd". However the Texaco logo was only used in this format in Northern Ireland; the version used in mainland Britain lacked the star.

ca1968 Regent map of Wales and Central England
1958 Regent/Caltex map of Ireland

Although Regent maps of Ireland are missing from the early British series, this 1958 map (with cartography by Orell Füssli) carries both Regent and Caltex logos. It may have been produced for distribution in Northern Ireland (where it is thought that the Regent name was used), or it may have been for mainland British distribution. A Caltex version of the same map can more commonly be found.
Image courtesy of Richard Horwitz

After 1968 both Texaco and Chevron sold maps in the UK. Regent had no other European operations, although it did run a small chain of service stations in Eastern Canada, and maps from the Canadian branch can also be found.

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Maps: ZIP


Russian Oil Products (R.O.P.) distributed petrol within the UK during the 1920s and 30s at a slight discount. However after the War, the Soviet Union was in no shape to provide secure supplies, and R.O.P. was sold to Regent in 1948.
1936 ZIP map of England and South Scotland R.O.P.'s petrol used the ZIP name in the 1930s and for three years from 1936 free maps were produced by the company. The 1936 version (left) had the rather plain cover shown and was supplied in an envelope of the same design. In 1937 (right, front & rear) a small format cover showed the oil producing areas of Russia between the Caspian and Black Seas where the crude oil came from. 1937 ZIP map of Britain

A 1937 map of just Scotland can also be found with the cover design showing the Caspian oil region. This has inset maps of Glasgow and Edinburgh which, uniquely, indicate the location of ZIP filling stations. It is possible that this was a special version, printed in small numbers, for the 1938 Empire Exhibition.

Maps: Watsons

Watsons Petrol Distributors Ltd was a franchised "jobber" for R.O.P./ZIP, based at Preston in Northwest England. They produced a version of the 1937 map (right) with a different cover, and all references on the covers (including inside) changed from "R.O.P. ZIP" to "Watsons R.O.P. ZIP". The actual map, by Geographia, is identical to the more common version.
After the war, Watsons became the sole distributors of Fina products in Wales and the West of England.
1937 Watsons ROP ZIP map of Britain

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Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2000-13

All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.