The Colourful History of British Racing Green Tiles

Abbas Youssefi
Abbas Youssefi
20th November 2017
British Racing Green may conjure up images of classic sports cars, but there’s far more to discover from this quintessentially British shade. From ornate Victorian swimming baths to modern day burger joints, this patriotic hue is just the trick for creating dramatic, rich spaces.

What Colour Is British Racing Green, Exactly?

Considering it’s an iconic shade, it’s surprising to find that there’s no official hue for British Racing Green, or BRG for short. Paint manufacturers have always mixed their own versions which certainly differ side-by-side. And if we asked the colour experts at Pantone, they’d probably refer us to their Pantone 342 - incidentally, this is the exact shade of the ‘Green Jacket’ worn by the winner of the Golf Masters, but that’s another story. That said, we always know BRG when we see it; it’s a dark verdant shade that sits somewhere between Brunswick green and slightly lighter tones. A picture is worth a thousand words so it’s probably wise to let this handsome Frogeye Sprite show us a true racing green - 'Froggy' here is a charismatic fellow indeed and a lifelong pal of mine. He's rather dashing, don't you think?

British Racing Green Froggy


The Story Behind British Racing Green

Sometimes in life, the truth is stranger than fiction and that’s certainly the case for British Racing Green. When it comes to provenance, there’s a couple of competing claims; naturally, we’ll opt for the most racy, if you’ll excuse the pun. Turns out that we actually have an American chap to thank for this most British of colours - a certain Mr James Gordon Bennett. A stalwart of the New York high-society scene in the late 1800s and a notorious playboy, Mr Bennett had to leave the US rather quickly after a rather outrageous scandal. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that Mr Bennett mistook the grand piano at his fiancee’s family home for a urinal. Whoops. Naturally, for a man used to living life in the fast lane, Mr Bennett went onto found the Gordon Bennett Cup. This yearly race pitted country against country; each competing nation had to field a car entirely manufactured in their own country. And as with national football teams today, each country was painted in their national racing colour. At the time, the national speed limit in the UK was a pedestrian 12mph which meant that the 1903 event, due to be held in Britain, would have been illegal. At the last minute, the venue was switched to Ireland, where the local laws were, ahem, ‘adjusted’ to suit. As a gesture of thanks to their hosts, the olive green of the British car was darkened to a deeper shamrock shade and British Racing Green was born.


British Racing Green and Classic Tiles

British Racing Green might be a particularly evocative colour - calling to mind the smell of car leather and the throaty rumble of engines - but you don’t need to be a petrolhead to appreciate it’s handsome quality. We took a little walk around our home city of Manchester and spotted plenty of classic dark green tiles. Most of these date from the Victorian and Edwardian periods; a time when Britannia ruled the tiling waves and darker tones were de-rigeur. Here’s a few that took our fancy: Green Tiles on Front of Pub

The Vine Inn

In the heart of Manchester, this traditional English pub is distinguished by its decorative green tiled exterior; a survivor of a time when many pubs had tiled frontages.



Victoria Baths

It’s impossible not to be awe-struck by this incredible, Grade II listed building. The ornate green tiles belie it’s original use; a ‘water palace’ for every Manchester citizen.


Getting The Look At Home

BRG is undeniably a rich, warm colour which means it absolutely ideal for crafting rooms with character. At home, the natural place is undoubtedly the bathroom; combine British Racing Green wall tiles with a Victorian slipper bath and you’ll have the perfect period space. The style experts at Victoria Plum have this look wrapped up - add an ornate mirror and vintage accessories to complete the look.

British Racing Green Tiles Bathroom

But that's not to say that British Racing Green is only suitable for period bathrooms; it's a wonderfully versatile tone and can be used to dress up almost any interior wall. In the image below, our Albert's Racing Green wall tiles are used to create a stylish, mid-century atmosphere in a modern living room. Their crackled glaze finish adds an authentic, handmade touch.

Albert's Racing Green

And there’s no reason why British Racing Green tiles can’t be used in thoroughly modern spaces, as the images below show.

Square British Racing Green Tiles

Contemporary doesn't always mean grey! Here, square green wall tiles are combined with hexagonal marble mosaics, a concrete counter and a metallic basin for an eclectic, stylish bathroom.

Herringbone British Racing Green Tiles

Our Crackle Bottle Green tiles have been described as a modern classic - who are we to disagree? Lay them in a herringbone fashion for some extra style points and don't forget the champagne! Want more proof that British Racing Green might actually be the hottest hue around? We spotted this gorgeous tiling in the Byron outpost in Newcastle - an upmarket chain know as much for it's interior style as it's gourmet grub. And where Byron lead, others follow... so why not consider British Racing Green tiles for your next project?

Green Tiles Byron Burger Restaurant