Zikmund Brothers Company (Bratři Zikmundové, abbreaviated as BZ) was founded in 1920 and became the first petrol distribution company in Czechoslovakia. It transferred fuelling from private garages to its own public filling station network. The Prague-based company owned one of the largest networks of petrol stations in interwar Czechoslovakia. Their first petrol station (which was also the first one in Czechoslovakia) was installed in náměstí Republiky Square in Prague in 1923. In early 1927, the products of Zikmund Brothers Company (such as BZ petrol and Mogul) were first registered as protected trademarks. The Mogul motor oil was famous and very popular among motorists at that time. In 1927, the company had ninety filling stations; a year later it operated around three hundred of them; in 1938, already 1,093. In 1938, the company started selling oil and building filling stations similar those we use today, with covered stands and driveways on both sides. In accordance with the company's motto “Perfect Motoring Services”, the Zikmund brothers focused on the quality of products.
The company managed 27 warehouses of gasoline, oil, kerosene and fats, and employed 240 workers, 166 clerks and 19 sales representatives. Zikmund Brothers Company was also a very attractive employer. For example, in the 1920s, filling station attendant, dressed in yellow jackets with red hemming, earned CZK 180 per week (while the average weekly salary in Czechoslovakia was CZK 120). The company was later taken over by Benzina, a state company, and then by Benzina.
The building features a repetitive motif of a circle. The station for the operating personnel has a circular floor plan, mostly glazed. In the centre, there is one of the pillars. Next to the building, there is a white brick wall with an arc at its end. The subtle concrete roof of an organic shape is an example of quality architecture and progressive architectural design. The roof of an irregular rectangle with rounded corners is supported by four support pillars. During fuelling, it protected motorists from the weather. In the middle of the roof above the driveway, there was a large circular skylight; a concrete bench was built around the concrete column. The red painted cast iron windows with square gridding provided the operator with a good view.
The filling station in Hradec Králové served motorists driving to Liberec or Náchod. In its time, it was one of the biggest stations in the country. Four pump dispensers were manufactured by Hejduk & Faix Company from Prague company. The filling station was supplied by two underground tanks, each containing 5,000 litres. Only the underground tanks, the windows and doors have survived from the original building.
The petrol station is the last authentic filling station in the city of Hradec Králové and one of the few preserved functionalist stations in the country. Another rebuilt petrol gas station in Hradec Králové, built in 1940, can be found in Denisovo náměstí Square. The building in Koutníkova Street is one of the last surviving objects of this kind in the country. Several filling stations for Zikmund Brothers Company were designed by Ladislav Machoň who also designed projects in Hlubočepy, Krč, and Hrdlořezy. Only one of them, in Na radosti Street in Zličín in Prague, has survived. Another important architect who also designed filling stations was Josef Gočár; however, none of his projects has survived to this day.
The filling station is a valuable example of the intensive development of motoring in the interwar period and functionalist industrial architecture. Its importance is related to the industrial era of the city when the car factory KAN of Alois Nejedlý had its headquarters in Hradec Králové between 1911 and 1915.
After the filling station was closed, the petrol stands were dismantled. In 2016, the city of Hradec Králové did not support the proposal to include the building on the list of cultural monuments. In 2018, the second object with an oval floor plan facing the road, copying the design of the original one, was built. The local residents, however, objected against the use of the object by a food chain. Currently, the building serves no purpose.
No protection has been registered.
- http://www.petroleum.cz/upload/publikace/benzina.pdf, 2008, on-line [dne 3.9.2015]
- http://www.turistika.cz/mista/benzinka-v-plotistich, on-line [dne 3.9.2015] Jiří Fejgl, Hradecký deník, Bratrská firma jasně ovládla trh, než ji zabrali komunisté, http://hradecky.denik.cz/zpravy_region/bratrska-firma-jasne-ovladla-trh-az-ji-zabrali-komuniste-20140225.html, on-line [dne 3.9.2015]
Kol. aut., Industriální topografie. Průmyslová architektura a technické stavby / Královéhradecký kraj, Praha 2012, s. 36–37