Residents in a picturesque Leicestershire village are furious at Texaco, which is planning to close the oldest filling station in the county to make way for houses.

The petrol station at Rothley was built in the 1920s and is an art deco gem. But it’s also a thriving station, selling nearly five million litres a year. Leaseholder Jim Halse said he was “puzzled and devastated” by the November 30 deadline he’d been given by Texaco to close the station.

Fifty-six-year-old Jim started work at Rothley Filling Station as a pump attendant when he was 16: “This forecourt has been my life for 40 years, and I was planning to hand the business over to my son – but suddenly there’s nothing to hand over,” he said .

“Nobody from Texaco has even spoken to me about the closure. Everything has come by letter – you’re just a ‘number.’ The station is doing better business than ever before, particularly since we were formally recommended as being disability friendly by the coach of Britain’s Para-Olympic team, one of our customers.

Rothley villager Brian Menzies has worked at the filling station for 10 years, and is one of 14 people who will lose their job. He said: “This is not just a beautiful building from a bygone era – it’s a focal point for the community. It should not be demolished to make way for housing.”

Said 73-year-old Michael Mays: “For geriatrics like me it will be a disaster. The staff pump your petrol for you and fix your car.”