Ventilated van Ventilated van Ventilated van

PW022 Virol
Ventilated van
Orange with white roof.
Dark blue lettering shaded white.


Healthy eating is a big thing in our modern 21st-century society, but back in the late Victorian era it was just as much of an issue. Undernourishment and malnutrition were major problems back then, and the scientists and industrialists of the day were always on the lookout for innovative solutions. In 1870 John Johnston, a Scotsman living in Canada, won a contract to supply beef to the French army during the Franco-Prussian War, and to get round transport & storage problems he developed a thick meat-extract paste called Johnston's Fluid Beef. This new product turned out to be a major success, particularly when Johnston came up with the snappy new name of Bovril, and in 1889 he set up a new company to produce and market his miracle product.
The company went from strength to strength, and the researchers at their Old Street headquarters in London were kept busy in the quest to develop new products for their customers. In 1899 they came up with another tasty & nutritious paste, this time made from a mixture of malt extract, beef fat and sugar. This unpromising substance was given the name Virol, and marketed as a health food for children & invalids. It sold so well that within a few years it was hived off as a separate company in its own right, and in 1920 its production was moved to large modern factory premises at Perivale, on the outskirts of London. Much of the success was due to the new company's enthusiastic approach to advertising, with their distinctive orange & blue enamel signs cropping up here there & everywhere, to create what would now be called 'brand awareness'. The signs had the brand name in big letters, along with a catchy slogan extolling its indispensibility to the frail & the sick. School Children Need It. Nursing Mothers Need It. Anaemic Girls Need It. Nervous People Need It. And they bought it by the wagonload. To cope with this demand the company were churning the stuff out in vast quantities, and sending it across the country by rail as fast as they could dispatch it. And their vans, of course, were painted up in the same distinctive colours as the advertising signs.
Virol was a huge commercial success even up to the 1950s and 60s, but its popularity faded away after that, and production finally ceased in the 1980s. It left fond memories amongst many who were given it as children, although it was always something of an acquired taste and was remembered rather less fondly by others. But you can bring back the good old days of miracle health foods on your layout with our Virol van. N Gauge Modellers Need It.

To buy this wagon along with our Great Northern van, please go to our 'N' Sets page.

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