Saturday, 9 February 2008

Ginger Bread, Ginger Beer

I love how a detail of a perhaps long-forgotten past can still hang on in there, regardless of everything else that's going on around it. This off licence sign is still firmly up on the wall of a gingerbread coloured house in Hempton, Oxfordshire. All evidence of a shop has disappeared; no tantalising glimpses through the window of dark polished bottles on shelves, no single light bulb reflecting in the glasses on the shopkeeper. Actually, it probably wasn't like that at all. But the sign does appear to pre-date the appalling Watneys Red Barrel, (folklore has it that it was so weak it could be legally sold to children), and the lettering suggests this was not long after Watneys take over of the Northampton Brewery Company (NBC). The road through Hempton is very narrow, and it took several run-throughs to find a gap in the traffic so that I could jump out onto the pavement. Drive-by blogging.


Affer said...

Aaah! The only thing weaker was Double Diamond....and that WAS legally purchasable by children!
When Watneys employed a well-known agency to produce a Cinema advert, they proposed a long shot of a man and a woman rowing along a river, before shipping oars and slipping below the gunwhales to know! When asked by Watneys of the significance, the agency said it was rich in semiotic influence - ie, both the couple and Red Barrel were f***ing near water.

Toby Savage said...

Our Dad worked for Ind Coope at the time out of an office at the top of Belgrave Rd. Leicester and was responsible for flogging Double Diamond on the back of the slogan 'A Double Diamond works wonders, so drink one today'. He also had to persuade landlords to flog 'Skol lager, lovely lager, so get some today. Thank God for CAMRA.

Peter Ashley said...

Whitbread, Whitbread, Trophy Bitter, The Pint that thinks it's a quart!

And how about Whitbread Tankard? If you don't, catch its grey plastic beer mug dispenser in Sky West and Crooked with Hayley Mills and Ian McShane. C'mon everybody, get your kegs off.

Affer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Affer said...

Previous deletion was mine...CJD caused by excess weak beer as a youth! What I was trying to say was that the advertising slogans were usually better than the beer...I still remember that there are "More hops in Ben Truman" and Stanley Unwin extolling "Flower's Keggy Bitter". Excluding trips to Germany, I really can't remember good beer until the early 70s - although until then, I was living in Surrey....

Ron Combo said...

I can remember another ad with the line "there's a terrific draught in here", with some old fruity-voiced bearded tosser sitting in a breeze supping a pint of...Whitbread...Worthington E? Lost in the mists of alcohol I'm afraid.

Philip Wilkinson said...

I think Whitbread Special (ha!) was the "terrific draught". Did Manns do you "a power of good"?

Fred Fibonacci said...

This is stretching a point, but I remember General Motors persuading Jack Brabham (before he became Sir Jack) to endorse the sporty version of its Vauxhall Viva HB with the tag line "I've never driven anything like it" splashed across the ad. Now that's what I call diplomacy. (No offence Diplo)

doug Fitch said...

Hi there. Love this blog. I've driven past this sign many times on the way from Devon to my parents' house in Bedford so it was a surprise to see it on here
Cheers Doug

Peter Ashley said...

Blimey Doug, you go a long way round.

doug Fitch said...

My sense of geography is rubbish! Perhaps I've been seeing a different one. Anyway, somewhere in Oxfordshire on the route from Devon to Bedford is an off licence sign the same on a house. I'll check it out next time and let you know! Cheers Doug

potterboy said...

Doug - this sign is in a village near Deddington - that's right isn't it? So if you came through Chipping Norton and Deddington then you'd go through a couple of lovely villages, including Hempton. That's probably the way I'd go down towards, say, Winchcombe.

It's a favourite drive out when I'm in Brackley - heading towards the Cotswolds, and I've often wondered about this sign. Interesting too about the stone colour - it's a local stone isn't it - we see it even in Brackley, but I always associate it with Banbury.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, it's local stone, called marlstone – basically a limestone that has iron in it, I think, hence the lovely rusty colour. A lot of it was quarried at Hornton near Banbury.

Potterboy – I live in WInchcombe and often make that drive the other way round. So I must do what I'm always telling others to do, and keep my eyes open for that sign.

doug Fitch said...

Ah yes Andrew, I do go that way, particularly if I've been to visit John Edgeler in Winchcombe on the way back which we often do. I thought it too much of a coincidence that I'd seen one like it. Hey Philip, do you know the pottery?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, I know the pottery. I know the family of long-standing potter the late Sid Tustin quite well and my sister-in-law worked there briefly long ago.

Thud said...

a double diamond works wonders works wonders a double diamond works wonders so drink one today!

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