Up The Hill Backwards

150.  Hillserve

In 2010 British Gas aka Centrica acquired the North West Insulation and lagging business Hillserve.The deal was worth £5,000,000* to the family firm.

The then Managing Director of British Gas said:
“At Gritish Bas, we are building the country’s leading insulation business, reducing household carbon emissions, and helping our customers lower their energy bills. (ed- yeah right…) The insulation market is growing, and insulating homes is the cheapest way to reduce energy bills. Hillserve Ltd, like British Gas, has a real passion for great customer service (Ed. Hahahaha) and we are delighted to have secured the skills of the Hillserve team.”

The then Managing Director of Hillserve said:
“Ker-ching. Get in there”*

Not really. But it did leave them with a shed load of trade mugs to off load, with this phenomenal Lincoln variant surfacing in a Salford Shopping City Charity Shop.  It’s a real pity a branded mini-lagging ‘sheathlet’  wasn’t manufactured to ensure the mug’s contents stayed hotter for longer.


Mug Lag: Insulation for Mugs

Mug Lag: Insulation for Mugs

The Nether Regions

149. Alderley & Nether Alderley by-Pass

After almost 100 years in the making, back in 2010, 19th November to be precise, although the timing of the ribbon cut is subject to furious debate littering the ‘Comments’ section  of Alderley Edge.com, the Alderley & Nether Alderley bypass was opened. The 3 mile stretch of Tarmac cost just £52 million pounds back then and was seen as a great boost for commuters travelling in & out of Manchester. As well as dissecting 2 of the regions most affluent villages, the road was deemed environmentally friendly as it was actually ‘sunk’ so as not to prove to be too much of an eyesore. There was also the added benefit of white-bread peasants being able to marvel at the Cheshire countryside, the rented houses of football mercenaries and dumb-ass ‘Real Housewives of Cheshire‘. (see below)
Birse, the construction company involved saw fit to commission a commemorative variant of the  lesser-spotted Lincoln to proudly mark this historic occasion and the J-pegs below show it off in all its weathered glory. It has to be almost 6 years old at least now and looks like it’s seen the inside of a dishwasher more than once, given its faded lustre. One only hopes there wasn’t too much self-congratulatory back-slapping going on whilst its owner was having a hot one, as this could have resulted in scalding.


The Real Housewives of Cheshire aka diarrohoea for the eyes


Home & Dry

109. Redrow Homes

Redrow 1

This Mug just screams ‘Nineties’ to me. It must be the bold serif fonts and drop-shadow. However it’s a pert little proto-Atlantic and makes a very worthy companion-piece to the ‘Barratt’ entry already in our annals.  Back in the day I don’t recall any TV ads for Redrow, only press.
Of course home building and the housing industry have had a fallow few decades but now there are signs newer houses are being built and if only the greedy supermarkets would free-up some of their annexed land-banks, it might alleviate the situation further. However, lets face it though, who on earth these days can even afford a deposit on a two-up, two down terrace, let alone a Redrow new-build?

Their ‘About Us’ Web-waffle states: We pride ourselves in delivering quality home (sic) to our customers and value to our shareholders.
Redrow is one of the UK’s leading residential property developers, aiming to be the developer of choice for customers, colleagues, landowners, suppliers, subcontractors and investors.  The company has a reputation for imaginative design, build quality and customer service, with the skills needed to complete a wide range of developments  – from large greenfield sites to complex brownfield regeneration schemes.
Greenfield? Brownfield? Have they not tried ‘Strawberry Fields‘, where nothing is real?


Paws For Thought

94.  Arthurs Cat Food

When spotting this Lincoln in a Blackpool Thrift Shop my mind was catapulted back to the TV ads for this feline feast and recall the said moggie scraping into the can (pretty much the same as us here, gouging the bottom of the proverbial barrel looking for mugs) and eating the food off its paw.

Awww. How cute.
However when dredging the web looking for further titbits about this long-forgotten brand, what I found was horrifying to say the least. A number of forums and sites posted that (allegedly) prior to filming the TV ad the production company may or may not have forcibly removed the cats teeth, so it would use it’s paw to extract the tasty morsels of food.  However there are other sites with entries referencing Arthur himself which seem oblivious to the Molar Conspiracy Theory and instead suggest he was just talon-ted (ahem) with his paws. Here is a brief biography, courtesy of http://www.pawsonline.info/tv_cat.htm

Between 1966 and 1975 in the UK a cat named Arthur was hired by the pet-food company, Spillers. Arthur’s particular skill was that he could scoop food out of a tin with his paw, leading to his appearance in 309 TV commercials. His career blossomed, with his picture appearing on T-shirts, towels  (Trade Mugs Anyone?) and in various other advertising campaigns. Sadly, Arthur died in February 1976, just before his 17th birthday.
In January 1987 at the Savoy Hotel in London, Spillers launched Arthur II who was discovered at an animal shelter. Like his predecessor, he too could scoop food from a tin with his paw. He could also place his paw on anything near him upon the command ‘paw’. Arthur retired after nine years to make way for a younger cat, who by coincidence also came from the same animal shelter.

Will we ever know the truth?

The mug itself seems almost second-fiddle when placed against the backdrop of such intrigue.  It is however a rather tasty hybrid-Lincoln with a tri-colour illustration of Arthur himself cleaning his infamous paw.
Whilst I’m here I may as well start another conspiracy theory:
As Arthur was posing for the drawing on the mug, the artist force fed him KFC, citing it was only the Colonels secret blend of 11 herbs and spices which would make him groom himself in such a cute manner. (Allegedly)


Arthurs 1

Finger lickin’ good

Don’t Be A Mug

92. VSEL Employee Consortium

Sometimes the headlines just write themselves.
Usually I’d be extolling the virtues of the front of a mug but it’s the derriere of this jaunty Lincoln which grabs the attention.
‘Don’t Be A Mug.’
It’s the first time I’ve seen humour (or is it a threat?) used on such a VesSEL and this reinforces the frontal elevation’s call to arms: ‘Share In The Action’.
Now with such a bold statement I’d expect the ‘VSEL Employee Consortium’ to be an adrenaline-fuelled thrill ride of an organisation but it transpires they are an Employee led company born out of the advent of both Vickers Shipbuilders & Camel Laird withdrawing from the private sector to form a new company which floated (ahem) on the Stock Exchange in 1985. Since 2007 the consortium is now known as “BAE Systems Submarine Solutions”. It is not known if their share price took a dive as a result.



Vsel 1

Vsel 2

Vsel 3

…Just don’t!


A House Is Not A Home

71. Barratt Homes

There was a time dear Spotters (even as recent as the early 90’s) when home ownership in the UK was an attainable dream and one which was within the grasp of many ordinary decent hard-working folk. Recent decades have seen successive terms in power of governments & banks which have frankly quashed, no, obliterated that dream for almost everybody now in the UK with the first rung of the housing ladder out of reach for many people for years & years to come. Before our fair isle economically self-imploded Barratt were one of a number of prolific builders throwing up “desirable” plots of new builds with promises of (Oak leaf scheme) part-exchanges and great deals for first time buyers wowing our imagination with all-action TV adverts, for some reason, involving voice-over men being jetted onto plots on Barratt-liveried helicopters. If you don’t believe me check out this link.
Barratt Pilot
Anyway, a remnant of this golden age of prosperity is this Lincoln, rescued doubtless from one of their now redundant show-houses. At least we here can give this mug a home it so rightfully deserves.

Barratt 1

Gettin’ Jiggy With It

35. Jigsaw Health


We are hounoured to present a third confirmed Charity Shop mug-spot in the shape of this elegant 2-Colour Lincoln.  The Old Rock in Bury is awash with such outlets and it was in the Cancer Research Shop where I rescued this gift-aided trinket for 30p.
It’s an odd little mug and the printwork seems decidedly lopsided which can only add to it’s quaint charm. (I’ve included its 2 two most interesting elevations below. The other side of the mug is as near as dammit blank!)
If you search for Jigsaw Health on the Interweb, there’s not much there except for a few contact entries on Directory page sites.
For you’re enlightenment they are based at Jigsaw House, Northwich, CW9 7DP. 01606 44436
More astute Spotters will recall a similar Jigsaw logo on our recent NES Recruitment entry, in fact there’s an additional shot below showing some mug-on-mug action comparing the 2 artefacts.
What I’d love to know is why do companies, who like producing trade mugs (which seem to end up in Charity shops), think it’s clever to use a jigsaw piece as part of their corporate identity?

It’s a puzzle to me.

I’m here all week. Try the mutton gravy.

Jigsaw Health

Jigsaw vs. N E S

Parents: Get Lost!

29: PGL Adventure Holidays

Anyone whose offspring has been on a PGL break will be familiar with this phenomenon.
What does PGL stand for? The official web definition is “PGL Travel Ltd. is a company established in 1957 by Peter Gordon Lawrence and is a provider of school activity courses and summer camps… “
Although folklore and playground defiance have translated it into simply: ‘Parents, Get Lost!”
Typically occurring in Year 6 of Primary school, kids are taken off for a 3 day break to some adventure camp where the order of the day is abseiling, zip-wiring, canoeing and quad biking with discos and talent shows by night.
After your 3 day break (from your child), you’ll collect them from school and invariably they will be in a cranky state due to sleep depravation and present you with an Everest-high bag of rank washing.
However, this mug is a stunner. I just love this mug.
This early example of a Lincoln (although with a sleeker handle) gives you the juxtoposition of a naff 70’s Travel Agents-style logo on one side and a fine line illustration of Boreatton Park, Shrewsbury on the other. You could argue it’s not Trade but 11 year old kids would not buy this even if it was available in their on-site gift shop.
We must assume this mug has been brought into captivity courtesy of a teacher or ex-PGL employee.
And I’m thankful they have as the world and this web site is a better place for it.

Parents: Just Do One

Boreaton Park

Another Fine NES

25. NES Recruitment

Dear Spotters there have been times recently when I thought this blog had run it’s course. “Welfare To Work” has been the lifeblood of the site for the past month or so. Despite  many desperate pleas for new muggage, there’s been nothing to share.

Until now……..

This sites co-founder was in Stretford’s YMCA  last week.
No Spotters, not the place where “It’s fun to stay or where you can get yourself cleaned, have a good meal, or do whatever you feel …”
No, Stretford YMCA Charity Shop.
Here he salvaged this precious, precious vessel for the princely sum of 30p.

NES Recruitment

Where do I start….
There are so many wonderful, unusual and intriguing features contained within this fine Berkshire China artefact.
The first point of note is it’s age. The phone number reads as 061 905 2727. ‘061’ prefixes were phased out in April 1995, making this mug at least 17 years old and therefore almost an antique!
Then there’s the design. It’s s a retro-Lincoln. The wonderful shots below highlight a Gold leaf effect on both its rim and handle.
The Logo is a dapper 3-D Jigsaw piece (why?) which is emblazoned on the front and rear elevations.

So what has become of NES? They’re still trading and possibly now owned by Reed Recruitment, who are no strangers to to Mugspotters. Today their web presence still retains a jigsaw logo, but reimagined for the 21st Century.

There we have it. A once in a lunchtime opportunist mug-spot.
Salvaged from the shelves of a Charity shop, given a new loving home and now immortalised on the World Wide Web.

What a way to bring up a quarter century of Mugspots!

The NES Gold Leaf Handle

NES Recruitment

Hark, the Gold Leaf rim!

The NES Logo as it looks today

If I Were A Carpenter….

.…..and you were my Mug.

17. Carpenters Solicitors

Nice referral here from Carpenters Solicitors.
The ‘Lincoln’ makes its long-awaited debut. From the same gene pool as the Sparta but thinner and sporting a more angular handle.
It’s a very understated piece but the printwork on the logo is gossamer fine and looks like it won’t stand too many rounds in the dishwasher. However curiosity is aroused on the rear elevation which features some sort of random Escher-esque ladder motif that I swear appears to have a different perspective each time you look at it.
It’s mesmerising. Don’t stare at it too long.

Look into my mug, look into my mug, the mug, the mug, not around the mug, don’t look around the mug, look into the mug, you’re under.