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tlr online
31-08-04, 15:37
Once the giant neon Lucozade sign was regarded as an impertinent American-style blot on the majesty of the Great West Road into London. Now it will be saved and perpetuated, after coming to be seen as a travellers' landmark and a treasure of nostalgia. Work will begin today to dismantle the sign, which stands on a wall of the one-time Lucozade factory facing the road at Brentford.

For more than half a century the advertisement has shown a hand continuously pouring from a chunky glass bottle which owes more to the 1950s - when the design was created - than to the 21st century. It has survived not only the substitution of plastic for glass in bottles but the renaming and extension of the Great West Road as the M4 and the takeover of Beecham, which made Lucozade, by the pharmaceutical multinational GlaxoSmithKline. The original neon slogan aimed at convalescents, Lucozade Aids Recovery, has been switched to Lucozade Replaces Lost Energy to reflect the brand's identification with Lara Croft.

It has been treated as a sign of journey's end by generations of motorists travelling to the capital from the M4 and other modern great west roads. Now the disused factory is being taken over as an Audi car showroom, and the neon is considered too fragile to withstand more winters. It is being given to Gunnersbury Park museum. But an exact replica will be built on a solicitor's building some 250 metres away, facing the M4.

The Twentieth Century Society joined the chorus of calls from locals and motorists for a sign to remain in the area. The group said: "It merits protection as a public work of art as well as an important townscape feature. "It is a rare example of 1950s British kinetic sculpture, reflecting the wit and delicate whimsicality of Festival of Britain Modernism. "Much of the notable neon signage of the mid-20th century has now been destroyed."

www.guardian.co.uk (http://www.guardian.co.uk)