Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Red Barrel

DRU (Design Research Unit) were British design company founded in 1943 whose major works include projects for the Ministry of Information, the 1951 Festival of Britain, British Rail, Ilford, ICI and London Underground.

DRU designer Milner Black demonstrates his two-handed groping technique. Terry-Thomas (right) takes note.
They also did some notable design work for Watneys (now owned by Heineken), the brewing company chiefly known for the infamous Red Barrel, a beer so foul it damaged the reputation of real ale in the UK for a generation.

Watneys pub interiors, including The Victory (London, E17) centre
The Station, Sutton

The Stag (London, SW1) and The Ponsford Arms (London, NW5)
DRU were typographic experts and font-spotters may observe Clarendon Bold Expanded was used for the Watneys logotype and English Two-Line Antique for pub names.

I grew up close to the Watneys London brewery and recall the steaming chimneys and yeasty air as I passed outside the factory gates. Some years later I found an old Red Barrel key ring in a pub car park and have kept my house keys on it ever since.

The Mounds and Circles pub
For those unfamiliar with Red Barrel I include Monty Python's Travel Agent sketch which goes some way in suggesting the cultural context and contempt in which the beer was held.


  1. We don't normally praise ourselves but Glimmung, I LOVE this post.