Thursday, 31 March 2011

Derby daze

This was the first ‘portrait’ signboard that intrigued me and inspired me to do a little digging. At the time the sign showed this chap:

The Earl of Derby, signboard up to the end of 2010

He is Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby. Quite an illustrious man, having served as prime minister three separate times. Now he might have been earl when the pub was built, although it’s possible that his father, Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby (and a Trinity man to boot), might still have been alive. But he (the 14th Earl) was an Oxford man, with no connection with Cambridge.
Another more suitable candidate for the relative immortality of a pub signboard would have been his son, Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby, who was both a Trinity man and a member of the University Commission.

So when the sign was replaced early in 2011, who was it that Greene King’s sign painters decided to honour? Well, the chap they chose (no doubt after much detailed research) looked like this:

The Earl of Derby, signboard 2011
So far as I can work out, he is probably Edward Stanley, 11th Earl of Derby. (I can’t find the original picture that this was taken from, but this sketch looks a lot like him.) It’s a nice, colourful image. But the subject has no connection with Cambridge whatsoever, and was getting on for 100 years dead when the pub was built. Brilliant! Who could be better?
That said, credit where credit is due: at least they’ve stuck with a picture, not rebranded the place as ‘The Derby’ and gone for some fancy lettering on a drab background.

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