Thursday, 14 June 2012

Redline super petrol, Exeter

While large and colourful ghost signs are still relatively common in France, in Britain they tend to be rather rare. This is why I was happily surprised when I spotted this very good example. Even though this ghost sign dates certainly from the 1930s, the colours are still striking. Only the blue of the petrol pump and the yellow background have faded a bit and turned to mauve and orange respectively.

Super Petrol
The 'Top Gear'

Remains of an earlier ghost sign can still be seen. All I managed to read is:

John ...
Wholesale & Retail

In the absence of a name, the activity of John will remain a mystery.

The Redline Motor Spirit brand appeared in 1914, the year the Union Petroleum Products Co Ltd was incorporated. The name of the company was changed to The Redline Motor Spirit Co Ltd in 1927. Redline Super was its main product and during the inter-war years was widely advertised in motor magazines.

In 1931, the Redline Motor Spirit Co Ltd merged with GLICO Petroleum Ltd, a company originally called The Gas Lighting Improvement Co Ltd, which had been importing, refining and distributing motor spirit for cars and motorcycles since 1888. The merger was motivated by the economic crisis of the 1930s, which drove demand and prices down as petrol companies vied for customers. At the same time, these companies were required to keep up with improvements in engine designs and performances. Thus large investments that a small company could barely afford under such difficult conditions were needed. As a result several similar mergers occured in the sector. The new company took the name Redline - Glico Ltd and launched a whole series of colourful advertising campaigns to attract customers.

Some of these adverts included glamourous women getting their up-market cars refuelled while other used images of the company's colourful petrol pumps on a bright yellow background. These pumps, blue with a vertical red stripe, came with different glass globes. These could be round, rectangular, conical, or combine the latter two shapes.

As can be seen on this ghost sign, adverts for Redline Super included the slogan "The Top Gear Spirit."

During the Second World War, petrol brands disappeared as all production was pooled. This made it more difficult after the war for smaller companies, like Redline - Glico, to regain their share of the market. They rapidly fell prey to larger, wealthier oil companies looking to expand their presence in the British isles. In 1952 Redline - Glico Ltd ran its last advertising campaign in preparation for the reintroduction of brands the following year. However before that happened, the company was taken over by the Anglo-American Oil Co., now Esso UK.

Location: Cowley Bridge Road, Exeter, Devon / All pictures taken in April 2012


Sam Roberts said...

This is an astonishing find, I love it. We have to work out a way of adding at least some of your work to the History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive.

Sam Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Roberts said...

PS. I added this to the ghostsigns facebook page and Colin Hyle of the University of Leicester posted this link to a website dedicated to vintage garages.

helen said...

wonderful colors and a great find.