Friday, 11 July 2014

"Buy BEST Bacon from POLAND" - British ad from 1968

Looking through a book called Ealing, Hanwell & Greenford by Richard Essen, part of a series called Britain in Old Photographs, I came across this picture, below. It is remarkable for a number of reasons. The caption reads: "A bus on route 65A in Argyle Road, Ealing, on 16 November 1968. Its destination was the Copt Gilders estate near Chessington." The location not actually Argyle Road, but around the corner on Cleveland Road, a stone's throw from the house into which my family would move on 1 May 1970. For several years, I'd take the 65 or the 273 bus home from Ealing Broadway station on my way home from school.

What caught my eye in this photo was the advert on the side. "Buy BEST bacon - From POLAND" it says, with a picture of a slice of back bacon.

Wow. Amazing. This is 1968, you will understand. Władysław Gomułka is leading the Polish United Workers Party as communist Poland staggers from economic crisis to economic crisis, whilst, proszę Cię bardzo, Polish best bacon is being advertised in London. And note that this is back bacon - a slice of pork loin and pork belly held together with a strip of fat and rind. Back bacon is a traditional British cut, unknown in Poland to this day. And yet here it is, competing in a British market (outside of the European Economic Community at that time) with bacon from Britain, from commonwealth Canada or from fellow-EFTA member, Denmark.

Back in Poland, people are struggling to buy meat while the state-owned export agency Animex is busy promoting the sales of its PEK and Krakus brands in free-market Britain. Why advertise on the side of a 65? Could it be that the route runs through some of the densest populations of Poles in Britain - the roads off Cleveland Road were full of houses owned by Poles, as were the streets off the South Ealing Road? Was advertising that sophisticated in those days before the introduction of the postcode and highly-focused target groups?

In those days, there were only three Polish shops serving Ealing's large Polish community, one on Ealing Broadway ('Parada', still there), one on The Avenue near Gordon Road, and the other one on the corner of Northfields Avenue and Elers Road run by Pan Rozwadowski. A visit to either was a childhood treat, not least because of the chance to buy Krówki - Polish luxury cream fudge.

On another note, the bus in the photo is an AEC Regent (RT 2492, KXW 121, built in 1950) with route-number in a roof box. This bus was the predecessor of the more famous AEC Routemaster; the RT continued in service with London Transport until the late 1970s. On the 65 route, the Routemaster replaced the RT in 1975. [Information from this brilliant site.]

This time two years ago:
Work on the S2 continues
(over a year before it finally opened)

This time five years ago:
Sunset across the tracks, Nowa Iwiczna

This time six years ago:
The storm the forecasters missed

This time seven years ago:
Peacocks in the park


Bob said...

I remember my Mom buying Krakus Ham in the can from time to time back in the 1960's (I believe). She would wash the gelatin off, coat it with a mixture of honey and mustard, affix a few rounds of pineapple with a red cherry in the center held in place by cloves.

I also remember when I first came to Poland in 1990 it being the only thing I could recognize in the shops so I bought it often.

Michael Dembinski said...

Indeed - there's a memory, Bob! Those big, one-pound cans - take care not to slice your fingers when opening!

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget little Patria in the Mall opposite Hamilton Road. Sharing shop space with a narrow cobblers that is still there over 50 years on