Residents of Winterbourne Abbas in Dorset, together with local commuters and passing drivers have been celebrating the re-opening of the village forecourt and shop by Top 50 indie Chartman Retail.

Situated on the busy A35 between Bridport and Dorchester, the business closed last year and was subsequently sold to West Country forecourt operator Chartman.

For Chartman directors John Hartshorne and Clive Sheppard the acquisition represents something of a homecoming.

After both leaving Weymouth Grammar School in the mid 1970s the pair started working together not far from Winterbourne Abbas at the former Lodmoor filling station, in Weymouth, which John managed at the time.

John continued in similar roles while Clive went away to University in Southampton, but their paths met again later before Chartman was founded in 1987.

Since then the company has grown to become the largest independent fuel station operator based in the South West, with locations spanning four counties.

Clive said the pair always retained memories of the Winterbourne Abbas site being a busy location in its heyday, and they were delighted to secure its purchase with a view to restoring its fortunes.

After a refurbishment the site reopened on March 1 with a newly branded Spar store and fuel supplied by Murco under a deal that has two years to run.

Costa coffee has been included in the shop, and sales reached nearly 100 a day just three days after opening.

However, Clive said the reopening is only an interim measure to re-establish the business, and Chartman has secured planning approval to redevelop the forecourt with a 2,000sq ft shop.

He explained: “It is an old site and is not up to the standards that Chartman aspires to.”