Monday 27 February 2012

Cash store, Willesden

Most of the space available at this corner shop was used to advertise the products on offer inside, including a whole range of drinks manufactured by R. White, of Camberwell. As precised on one of the ghost signs below, these and other goods were not sold on credit but had to be paid straight away as this was a 'cash store' (see the post about Fred Palmer, the cash butcher).
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:
V. & ...
Cash Store
& Provision
Agent For
R. White's
Mineral Waters
Ginger Beer
Stop ... Cheapness

The more recent ghost sign, in yellow letters against a dark red background, reads:
Uncle Tom
For R. White's
Lemonades Sodas
Or Mixed ...
All Pints ...
Sent Home

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

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