R. White was founded by -you've guessed it- Robert White and his wife Mary in 1845. It produced mineral and aerated waters, cordials, lemonade and ginger beer. Their sons Robert James and John George became partners thirty years later. Under their leadership the family firm expanded, taking over in 1891 H.D. Rawlings Ltd, a company that had been making mineral waters and ginger beer for more than a century. In 1894 the company was incorporated as R. White & Sons Limited. Over the following years, in order to cope with the growing demand for its drinks, it acquired several manufacturing sites around the country. As a consequence of some take-overs, R. White also became involved through its subsidiaries in the production of a greater range of products, including vinegar and sauces (White, Cottell & Co, of Camberwell) as well as fermented liquors and spirits (London Essence Company, of Peckham).
In 1970 R. White & Sons Ltd was taken over by Whitbread & Co Ltd. Sixteen years later the brand was acquired by soft drink manufacturer Britvic.
This is a real palimpsest, with two ghost signs relatively easy to read, plus one where only a few letters still appear.
The older ghost sign was painted in black on a while background. It reads:
Stop ... Cheapness
The more recent ghost sign, in yellow letters against a dark red background, reads:
For R. White's
Or Mixed ...
All Pints ...
I am slightly puzzled by the first lines of this sign. Maybe the owner of this cash store was known as Uncle Tom?
This was the first time I saw a ghost sign advertising R. White's drinks. It seems the company preferred to use enamel signs, which lasted for longer and could be moved easily if necessary. Two pictures of H. Wilson's and George Adnams's shops taken in Brentford in the 1910s and 1940s respectively show such enamel signs. Many, such as the one on the right, have survived and can be seen around the country.
Location: Villiers Road / Picture taken in November 2011