Sympathy for the DVLA: the private plates of Pimlico Plumbers
British Ideas Corporation, 2016
While too many plumbers create havoc for ordinary families with Barney Bodger pipework, spur-of-the-moment joints and wedged-in 4×2 – all nefariously hidden behind a bath panel – there are some, like Pimlico Plumbers, who take the job seriously and have clearly prospered as a result. Londoners will be familiar with the distinctive red, white and blue of Pimlico Plumbers vans but they’ll probably be more aware of the fleet’s private registrations, a creative toilet humour that pulls the chains of both young and old.
Pimlico Plumbers’ Lambeth HQ feels more like an enclave of ITV than a U-bend repository. In the reception, signed photographs adorn the walls signed by the firm’s famous customers. Harry Hill, Felicity Kendall, Boy George, Chris Tarrant and Diana Rigg are a few of the faces on offer, the latter writing: “Many thanks to Pimlico Plumbers for mending my leaky loo.” Even the amazing Emma Peel suffers with cracked conveniences once in a while.
In the depot, lavatorial numberplates abound but a prominently parked Bloo Acticlean-coloured Bentley, reg C114 RLE, indicates that company founder and chairman Charlie Mullins is in residence. His office, up a flight of stairs and through a room of smartly dressed telephone operators, is grander than a newspaper editor’s. On one wall, there’s a gallery of photographs documenting Mullins’ meetings with the great and good, while there, with pride of place behind his desk, sits a framed OBE. But we’re not here to discuss national recognition or celeb-packed black-tie functions. We want to know about BOG 1 and LAV 5!