Thursday, 31 July 2008

Being Bould



One fine winter's afternoon in 1997 I came across Bould's garage in King's Cliffe in Northamptonshire. It had been closed for some time, and is now, of course, replaced by a bijou selection of stone-faced houses in this 'sought after village'. I'm so glad I recorded its final few months. It became the reference for a Christmas card I did where I stuck enamel signs all over that blank front wall, but I love the freeze-frame of the past it gives, just as it was when it closed. The National sign with the stylised Mercury head, together with the optimistic 'petrol 24 hours', a Smurf poster (oh no), the faded Castrol dispenser in the doorway and an equally non-confidence building M.O.T sign in the window. Commentator Diplomat has given me a sworn affidavit that he turned up for petrol here and bought a road atlas that had been in the window for about ten years. He was somewhat taken aback to be charged full price for an object whose cover details had faded to almost nothing. Next door was a collection of wrecked cars and vans that I also photographed, but you will all have to eat up your greens if I'm to show it off. Anyway, what exactly was the Smurf thing all about?

10 comments:

Sue said...

Is there any chance of your Christmas cards being made available to the general public (aka oiks like me) to buy this year?

We had a set of National Benzole road maps in a rather sticky plastic cover (which I think finally melted one day) which saw us through many adventures in the late 60s and early 70s.

Peter Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Ashley said...

That was me, who really shouldn't try to write at five to twelve at night after the pub.

Sue: I've been thinking about doing something about the cards for sometime. I was held up in my deliberations by the Royal Mail wanting to use them as a set of Christmas stamps, but who themselves got over-ruled by their Stamp Advisory Committee (you can imagine what their meetings are like)who wanted photographs of icebergs or whatever. So, now I've ruled myself out of ever doing a stamp for them, maybe I should concentrate on greetings cards.

National Benzole did some very interesting sales promotion in their time. What a pity we don't have a petrol company with such an evocative, if slightly reeking, name as that anymore.

Philip Wilkinson said...

I have a handful of spiral-bound books on 'Our National Heritage' published by National Benzole or, as it says on the title page 'Issued by National Benzole Company Limited' in the 1950s. They cover subjects such as Sports and Pastimes (Furry Dance, coracle fishing), 'Our Heritage of Skill' (The Cheese Maker, The Hand-Block Printer), and 'Our National Parks'. Must look out for the ones I've not got.

Meanwhile, YES PLEASE to Ashley Christmas cards.

Toby Savage said...

A lovely garage. I wish I worked at it. Actually I just wish I worked. Sometimes.

Jon Dudley said...

Turn your back for a moment (playing with ancient vehicles in Gloucestershire) and a garage appears! Yummy...dontcha just love those Castrol oil dispensers. My grandad had a similar one at his little rural garage but with Gargoyle brand emblazoned on it. The pint and quart oil bottles in a sort of milkmans crate were rather nice too. National Benzole - that adaptation of the logo was rather nice wasn't it.
Please sir I ate most of my cabbage....can we see the rusting cars now, sir?

doug fitch said...

I remember the Smurf thing. There used to be a similar National garage in Desborough when I as a kid. The little plastic Smurfs were a free promotion

rashbre said...

I like the added on 'catalysts tested' bit above the MOT sign, which gives a sort of nod to more recent times.

You may have covered it (I'm new to this blog) but there's a whole series of well known ad campaign hooks from a few years ago that have long term residuals.

you can be sure of ...
a ... a day
beanz meanz ...
the ... ring of confidence
and so forth.

rashbre

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Rashbre, I'm amazed that nobody has filled in the blanks, so of course I have to have a go:

Shell, Mars, Heinz, Colgate?

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