Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Peterkin's custard, Battersea, and Flins & Sons, Putney

Over the past couple of years I have been taking hundreds of pictures of painted signs and mosaics, mostly in London and across the southeast. Whether they are highly elaborate or very simple, relatively well-preserved or have almost completely faded by now, they provide an insight into our social history and past commercial practices.

I thought I should start this blog with the first painted sign I spotted in London about 10 years ago, and one I look at every time I take a bus between the Putney area and Clapham Junction. With its smiling boy, this is definitely one of my favourite ghost signs!

Self-Raising Flour
Corn Flour
Can Be Obtained Here

"Little Peter" (the suffix -kin meaning little, like -kijn or -ken in Dutch or -chen in German) was the face of a product launched by Joseph Arthur Rank after he joined his father's milling business in 1905 at the age of 17. Apparently Peterkin's Self-Raising Flour was not a big success but it was still being sold by 1926. That year "a grocer was summoned at Marylebone Police Court by the Hampstead Borough Council for having sold to the prejudice of the purchaser, egg custard not of the nature, substance and quality demanded." You can read more about the case here: http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/AN/article.asp?doi=an9265100185

The case was dismissed on the grounds that there were no standard for custard powder and that given the price of Peterkin's (1 and 1/2 d. for a pint packet), customers should not expect too much of it... What a surprise!

Location: St John's Hill / Both pictures taken on: 05/03/2008

I always thought it was a bit of a miracle this ghost sign was still with us, given its position on a major thoroughfare, and in such a good state.

Although the following signs are not as eye-catching, I include them on this first post simply because they are the nearest ones to where I live (unless another one is hiding right under my nose and I have managed to miss it so far!). As it is often the case the same wall was used by different businesses to advertise their products or services and the texts overlap.

Below is the right-hand side of the wall:

A Flins [?]
Advertising Space
Riverside Works
To Let
...al Motor Body
Con... Dept

Having stumbled on this sign, it is easy to walk away hoping to find another one further down the road... Yet there are clearly three texts on this part of the wall and a close look reveals that the last two lines start on the left, on the part of the wall that appears empty at first sight. I have enhanced slightly the picture below to make whatever is left of the sign come out. The most legible part is next to the little window.

... Work ...
Cars Lodged in Garage
Phone Putney 2385

Location: Ruvigny Gardens / Both pictures taken on: 30/04/2008

1 comment:

Jayjay said...

I've just been up to London to see a matinee musical and just spotted your first 'Peterkin Custard' sign, it's still there in July 2016. A Google search found this blog so well done for allowing me to find out more about it. ��