A FORTNIGHT ago, we carried a 1940-ish postcard of the centre of Winston, the pretty village high above the River Tees, which had a dirty big sign in the middle of the main street advertising “Cleveland 1/3”.

John Oates of Newton Hall, Ted Hoyle, Dave Smith of Fir Tree, Clive Wilkinson and Geoff Mansfield of Rushyford were among those who kindly got in touch to tell us what Cleveland was.

“Cleveland was one of the oil companies alongside the likes of the Anglo American Oil Company, and its name comes from Cleveland, Ohio, rather than Cleveland here in the North-East,” said Derek Jago of Bishop Auckland, whose father, Bill, left school to become a “wagon lad” on an Anglo American lorry.

The Northern Echo: The Cleveland 1/3 sign in WinstonThe Cleveland 1/3 sign in Winston

“I believe the advert is for a 1s 3d per gallon can. Hardware stores often sold gallon cans of petrol as petrol pumps were few and far between in those days, and hardware stores were already supplying lamp oil, paraffin and various lubricants.

“The advert shows the name Cleveland on a slant. I recall using Cleveland petrol in my first car, a Morris Minor in about 1965, when Cleveland had its name on illuminated glass signs above the pumps. The name was still on a slant but with dark blue lettering on a white background.”

One of Cleveland’s brands was Discol, which it sold from 1934 and was a fiery combination of alcohol and petrol.

Cleveland was taken over by Anglo American in 1938, and in 1951, Anglo American began calling itself Esso, because in its earliest incarnation it has been called Standard Oil. There were branches of Standard Oil in 34 American states, so the initials S.O. were widely recognised.

In 1973, all Cleveland filling stations were rebranded Esso, and the name disappeared.

But, returning to our postcard, there are a couple of silhouettes in the background which could be roadside petrol pumps. Today, there is no sign of the quiet village ever having had something as vulgar as a petrol station in its midst, but did it ever?