Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Daren, Camberwell, and Hovis, Tonbridge

As soon as I passed the door yesterday evening, I realized I had forgotten something: to buy some bread! Fortunately we still had some ready-to-bake baguettes for this morning, but to remind me to get some tonight, I decided today's post should be about bread and bakers.

Large numbers of bakers' signs appear to have been sponsored by either Hovis or Daren. These companies provided the recipe and ingredients for baking the bread, and paid for painted signs, which displayed their name in letters at least as large as those for the baker himself. Unfortunately a quick search on the internet for Daren does not reveal much about this particular brand, which must have been quite popular at some point.

This sign was painted on several occasions, the name "Daren" appearing three times. Unfortunately the upper part is now barely legible, apart from the aforementioned company's name and "Bread".

Although the lower part is much better preserved, it has been partly obliterated. Here is what is left of it:
The Best Brown Bread
Made From
... of the Wheat

Additionally the words "Electric Machine", written in white and forming an arc across the second line, can still be read. The use of such a device would have been a selling argument, telling prospective customers this was a modern bakery. Electric machines may also have guaranteed a more consistent product day after day.

Location: Daneville Road / Both pictures taken on: 16/07/2009

Daren's main competitor was undoubtedly Hovis, a name crafted in 1890 from the Latin Hominis Vis (meaning "strength of man") to market bread produced using Smith's Patent Process Germ Flour. In 1898 S. Fitton & Son became The Hovis Bread Flour Company Ltd. From the very beginning Hovis used a whole range of marketing techniques to increase brand awareness and its share of the market. The number of Hovis ghost signs still around testifies to its success.

Today, rather than using one of the better known London signs (don't worry, they will appear on another post), I decided to put one I spotted recently while exploring Tonbridge on my way to see the 13th century mural paintings in the Church of St Thomas a Beckett, Capel, and the wonderful Chagall windows in the Church of All Saints, Tudeley.

E. ...en [move this banner!]
Maker of
Golden Brown
Still the Best

To celebrate its 120th anniversary, the company produced a little book (available at http://www.hovisbakery.co.uk/about-hovis/) but it does not explain why between the 1920s and the 1950s a tilde, sometimes simplified to a dash, was placed on the "O" of Hovis... I'm sure someone out there will have an idea.

Hõvis, with the characteristic tilde on the "O"
Note that Hovis has been painted another time but in rounder letters.

Location: Barden Road, Tonbridge / Both pictures taken on: 14/06/2009

So now, I can only hope I won't forget the bread tonight!


Sam Roberts said...

I've heard that the little line above the 'O' in Hovis was introduced because of confusion over how to pronounce the name i.e. is it the 'O' of hover or the 'O' of wrote? I guess people were saying the former when the latter is actually correct.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Thanks Sam. Since Hovis began advertsing on TV in 1955, more and more people would have been aware of the proper pronounciation indeed, and that would have led to the disappearance of the tilde.