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The Comedy of Errors

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7 October 15 words: Wayne Burrows

Nottingham adverts, ripped from the pages of history, brought to you by Wayne Burrows

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James Shipstone's Ales: Beer Is Best! (Nottingham Chronicle, 1935)

The 'Beer is Best' slogan of James Shipstone's brewery has been an article of faith in Nottingham for as long as the place has had a history. It's said that the earliest pre-medieval caves were dug out of the sandstone precisely to allow malting and brewing to go on all year round, so I guess you could say we started exactly as we meant to go on.

While the old Soviet Union used the red star as its symbol of the 1917 communist revolution, the impressive, Victorian-built Shipstones headquarters in New Basford displayed one on its roof for the best part of five decades. The massive red neon 'Shippo Star', the company's logo, was visible for miles around – giving Nottingham the look of a mini-Moscow dedicated to the highest ideals of getting totally battered on a Saturday night.

It's also worth noting that while the picture in this 1935 advert from the Nottingham Chronicle might look a bit nostalgic at first glance, the firm was still using horse-drawn drays for local deliveries well into the forties. It's fair to say that the sight of two blokes sitting on top of a heap of barrels, clattering up and down the city roads behind a pair of dobbins, really would have been familiar when this advert was published.

But there's a certain poetic irony in the fact that the Shipstones red star vanished in 1991, not long after the Berlin Wall fell, along with all the red stars in Moscow.

And in an odd parallel to that history, Shipstones’ demise was all down to the running dogs of capitalism. The family firm was sold to Greenall's in the early eighties, the operation moved to Burton to save cash, and in recent years the old Star Brewery has been redeveloped as offices and retail units.

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