A neon sign advertising Lucozade, a bubbly energy drink, was a London landmark for many years. Numerous people passed it on their way to the city center from Heathrow Airport’s elevated road. The cheerful sign that depicted a bottle pouring golden bubbles into a glass of wine dates back to 1954. However, its original message was “Lucozade Aids Recovery”. It was replaced in 1980 with “Lucozade Replaces Lost Energy”. It was threatened by demolition 10 years ago.
After a six-year campaign led by local residents and supporters, the sign was finally placed in Gunnersbury Museum’s care. A replica was attached to the side at a nearby car showroom. Margaret Hodge (Britain’s culture minister) said, “There was no energy lost” during the campaign by residents.
Last year, JC Decaux, a signage and street furniture firm, announced plans for a digital screen to replace the replica. It showed the familiar old bottle – which is so reminiscent of childhood for many people – morphing into the modern Lucozade Sports drink. Lucozade was now owned by Suntory Japan, which may have been unable to appreciate the joy of nostalgia and neon.
Although neon has been replaced by LED lighting and other fast-moving digital displays on main roads and in cities worldwide, its popularity is still strong. In London, the Piccadilly Circus’s last neon sign – which was meant to celebrate Sanyo, another Japanese firm, in 1987 – was destroyed in 2011. However, The Neon Museum is located in the stunning Space Age lobby of La Concha Motel.
Since then, it has been busy organizing tours through the amazing neon heritage of Las Vegas for busloads. Hong Kong is another city that pays homage to neon signs.
Kings in neon
It all started in 1896 when William Ramsay – a distinguished British chemist and future Nobel Laureate – discovered the amazing properties of the gas-only 0.0018% of Earth’s atmosphere – by placing neon in a container and charging it with electricity. It was, he claimed, like the Northern