Knowing my predilictions, a friend lends me his copy of this postcard. The original owner is the last man in Leicestershire making proper old-fashioned mattresses, and as a boy helped dig the tank pit for the new-fangled petrol pump on the left. Apparently the landlord of The Crown in Theddingworth, George Smith, was told by a regular that he ought to be selling fuel "As there's no pump between Market Harborough and Husbands Bosworth" and paid for its installation, presumably for a cut of the ensuing profits. We reckon the safest, albeit vague, bet for a date is pre-war. But what a host of detail is in here. The petrol is Regent Super (with an added 'British'), the car is an early Leicestershire registration, and the beer is NBC. That's the Northampton Brewery Company, who took over the other firm on the sign, Market Harborough brewers Edey & Dulley. In an attempt to ensure their rightful place in heaven, Dulley's also provided the wherewithal to build the Wellingborough Strict Baptist Tabernacle where my grandfather was inducted as pastor in 1909. The local jibe that the chapel was built on beer barrels was ignored and never spoken about by his congregation or offspring. Except by my mother who thought it was very funny, considering everyone she knew as a child was not only teetotal but got very excited by the thought of a comforting bedtime Bournvita.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)