Friday, 2 October 2009

The Temperance Permanent Building Society, Richmond and Lewisham

With the holidays in China and the extra work that goes with the beginning of a new academic year now behind, it's time to bring this blog back to life.

China was full of painted signs, especially in rural areas. My guess is that most of them, and virtually all the older ones given the nature of the regime and its past policies, were of a political nature but in the south I came across plenty of large ads for China Mobile, one of the country's mobile phone providers (easy to recognize: the company's name was written in English), and several for a couple of building companies. Unfortunately I saw most of them while travelling by bus and couldn't take all the pictures I would have liked. Still, I came back with some but before posting them I'll ask my Chinese colleagues from the languages department if they don't mind translating a few for me.

Unfortunately on the day I flew back home clouds were low and the only thing we could see before landing at Heathrow were streets after streets of 1920s-30s houses. That reminded me of the painted ads for the Temperance Building Society, which feature such a typical suburban house.
I came across the sign in Richmond in February. It had certainly been hidden by a billboard for some time, and that would explain why one part is so well preserved while the rest has disappeared. It would also explain why I hadn't noticed it ealier as I pass there quite often. Even though only part of the name is visible, a quick search on the net pointed to it being for the Temperance Permanent Building Society, one of many building societies that appeared in the 1830s-40s. As the name suggests it adhered to the principles of the temperance movement, and its directors were required to sign The Pledge on a yearly basis. This was confirmed a few months later when I spotted another, this time complete, sign in Lewisham. Its incredibly good state is due to the fact that since 1933 it had been almost completely hidden by the building of the former Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society! On the picture, I have slightly brightened the sign while leaving the rest unchanged (you can click to enlarge it).

Choose Your House
And The

A suburban dream...

Location: Sheen Road / Both pictures taken on: 17/02/2009

Choose Your House
And The
Building Society
4 Ludgate Hill EC4
Will Help You
To Buy It

Location: Lewisham High Street / Picture taken on: 23/07/2009

In 1974 the Temperance Permanent Building Society merged with the Bedforshire Building Society to form the Gateway Building Society. In 1988 the latter was bought by the Woolwich. The requirement to sign The Pledge was dropped at the time of the merger with the BBS.

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