I think we all recognise this, the Bile Beans ad, painted on a wall at the end of Lord Mayor’s Walk, and pictured here from the vantage point of the city walls, near Monk Bar. I took this quick snapshot in passing, on the evening of 12 April 2007, mainly because a friend had mentioned it as something he had fond memories of from his time living in York some years earlier.
I’d never really thought about it much. I’d bought a print of a painting of it back in the late 1980s, one of two by local artist Baz Ward. (The other was of the shop called Bulmers, just across the road from the sign, which has recently closed.) It seemed to have been photographed a lot, felt so well-known already, that I didn’t feel a need to include it on these pages when there were so many other more obscure and interesting things I wanted to cover.
But then, a few years ago, it became far more interesting because of a proposed restoration, which has since taken place.
Some people preferred its faded state and hated the bright new repainted version. Many people thought the version pictured here was the ‘original’, but as discussed at length, it wasn’t, it was already a restoration, though by then decades old.
Personally I found the issues raised by this restoration, and the history of the sign and its earlier repainting, more interesting than the thing itself.
What’s interesting now, in 2016, is whether the Bile Beans sign will still be visible from the same place on the walls, after the building on the old Monk Bar Garage site is complete. A recent mention on Twitter suggests not:
View from the Walls today.When the roof goes on,there will be no more views of the Bile beans sign. pic.twitter.com/EpUifYqWNY
— York Walls (@yorkwalls) January 12, 2016
It’s a wet and miserable day today so I doubt I’ll be wandering up there to have a look. Will try to do so at some point, or perhaps a reader can update us on how it’s looking now? Comments welcome below, or contact me on Twitter.
Thanks to the kind reader who sent me this photo, taken today: