In a side-street in London’s North Kensington stands one of the capital’s lesser-known museums. I confess that I had never visited it myself until recently, despite living in the area for many years and hitting the Virgin Active gym just up the road at least a couple of times a week.
That’s quite an omission on my part, since what we’re talking about here is the Museum of Brands, which – to use an apt branding metaphor – does what it says on the tin, showcasing the nation’s brands and their iconography, going back to Victorian times.
As you walk through its winding ‘Time Tunnel’ of yesterday’s household names, with their uninhibited packs and garishly illustrated posters, you find yourself wondering what combination of circumstances finally sealed their fate.
What became of Gossages ‘magical soaps’, Salvo washing powder, or My Lady canned fruits (‘An orchard in your cupboard’)? What was it that finally laid low Peek Frean biscuits, Keen’s mustard and Zambrene weatherproofs? Once brimming with patriotism, optimism and come-on customer promise, these brands somehow vanished from shopping bags and ended up as curiosities on a museum shelf.