Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Manufacturer of boxes, De Beauvoir Town

Like every year, I went this morning to my local post office to send some Christmas presents to friends living in the far south of the American continent. Having a strong parcel, whose shape is adapted to the contents, is one of the keys to a safe delivery. If the box manufacturer below had still been in business, maybe I could have used one of their products. Instead I had to cut an old one, strengthen it, and then seal it tightly with length after length of tape.

Manufacturers Of
Folding Boxes,
Drapers Stock Boxes,
Shirt & Mantle Boxes,
Collapsible Milliners' Boxes,
Parcels Post Boxes,
Postal Tubes,
Stationery Boxes,
Confectionery Boxes,
Round & Oval Boxes.
Boxes Of All Kinds For All Trades

Here is a real palimpsest with at least three layers but apart from
Rosemary Works
I can't make sense of much of it.

Location: Regent's Canal near Bridport Place / Pictures taken on: 06/05/2008

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Lingfield bakery

Without any doubt the prettiest sights in Lingfield are found in the oldest part of this big village in the southeastern corner of Surrey. There, one of the most beautiful alleys in the county, lined with 17th and 18th century cottages, leads to the churchyard and the large perpendicular church of St Peter and St Paul with its fascinating monuments and brasses. Around the churchyard are some more lovely buildings including a 15th century half-timbered hall-house, which now houses the local library, and a large 17th century house built of red brick. If you come from the station, this will be pretty much your first impression of Lingfield. After that, the rest is slightly less impressive, although a few half-timbered and weather-boarded cottages here and there and the old 'cage' by the pond, where petty offenders were detained, are attractive enough. The shopping area, with its Victorian and post-war buildings, is rather disappointing and one could be forgiven for passing through rapidly. However this is where, as far as I'm aware, Lingfield's only painted sign can be found.

Lingfield Bakery
A. G. Finch
Pastrycook & Confectioner
Cakes & Pastry
Every Description
Wedding Cakes
A Speciality

There is still a bakery in the building, but with a different name.

Location: High Street, Lingfield, Surrey / Picture taken on: 10/08/2008

Monday, 7 December 2009

Alf. The Purse King, Stoke Newington

Stoke Newington Church Street is home to an incredible concentration of ghost signs, one of which has already been presented on this blog. If several of these painted signs advertized well-known products, there's one that displays a more intriguing name: Alf. The Purse King (click on the picture for an enlarged version).

The left-hand side reads
Alf. The Purse King. Reg
A. Rubinstein- &
The right-hand side reads
Leather Goods
Purses, Pouches, Hand Bags, Wallets, &c.
Also At 8 Kimberley Terrace, Gt. Yarmouth
In the phone number, Dal stood for Dalston.

Unfortunately searching the web doesn't throw much light about the London side of this business. In Great Yarmouth however, Alf the Purse King seems to be still in business, but at a new address in Regent Road. On another website, a page about the town's market written in 2007 mentions that
Up until recently, one of the bag stalls on the market belonged to 'Alf the Purse King', who had seemed to go on forever until his recent death.
Back in London, the only information I could find is about the late 18th century house built of yellow bricks the sign is painted on as no. 89 is grade II listed and as such appears on the Images of England database. The building is also mentioned a couple of times, including to say that by the 1980s it was in a very dilapidated state, in The History of the County of Middlesex (Volume 8) edited by T F T Baker and C R Elrington. This seminal work includes a fascinating account of the development of Stoke Newington Church Street from the late Middle Ages until the early 1980s.

Location: Stoke Newington Church Street / Picture taken on: 10/04/2008

Crown and Woolpack, Clerkenwell

A pub with a revolutionary connection

Opened in 1851 the Crown and Woolpack is sadly no more. This pub, which in Victorian times housed the meetings of the Walton and Cotton angling club, closed in 1990, a few months before the collapse of the USSR. What's the connection I hear you say between a Clerkenwell watering hole and the soviet regime? Well, here goes the story... In 1903 the exiled leaders of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, including Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov -better known as Lenin- gathered in Brussels for the party's second congress. However because of repeated harassment by the Belgian police, who thought they were part of an anarchist plot, the delegates decided to move to London before the first session could even take place. Once in the British capital Lenin and other delegates met in the first-floor room of the Crown and Woolpack to organize the event. Although the British authorities were not too concerned, Scotland Yard was informed and a policeman was duly sent to spy on the meeting. Hidden in a cupboard, he later reported his mission had been totally fruitless: those Russian revolutionaries had not ushered a single word in English! The congress began a few days later in a meeting room off Tottenham Court Road and at various locations around central London. If you remember your history lessons at school, you'll know of course that the 1903 London congress went down in history as the one when the party split in two irreconcilable factions, on 17th November: the Bolcheviks, headed by Lenin, and the Mensheviks, led by Martov.
There is no evidence that the future leader of the USSR, who visited London on several occasions beween 1902 and 1911, went to the Crown and Woopack on more than one occasion. He was however a regular at The Crown on Clerkenwell Green, which was near the offices of 20th Century Press where Iskra (The Spark), the organ of the RSDLP, was published (the building, at 37a, now houses the Marx Memorial Library).
As for the Crown and Woolpack, as mentioned above, it closed in 1990. Then for a few years the building housed a Japanese restaurant. Nowadays it has been converted into a hairdresser's / beauty salon.

Location: St John Street / Picture taken on: 14/08/2008

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Picture House, Barnes

Sometimes you pass through a street on several occasions, and don't notice a painted sign. That was the case for me with this one. I even had several pictures of the building but failed to spot there was something written by the street corner. After all the name of the venue, Byfeld Hall, was already engraved in stone. Why should there be anything else? And then, on a rainy day, while travelling on a bus that passed nearby, I happened to look down Church Road and suddenly realized there was a painted sign I hadn't taken a clear picture of. That was three months ago, and last week I finally made a little detour on my way to the supermarket to capture it.
Built possibly by J. Harrison (although the name of Arthur Osborne has also been mentioned) Byfeld Hall opened in 1906 as a venue for meetings, plays, music and dancing with a capacity of 500. In 1910 Byfeld Hall received its first cinematograph licence. It opened with a documentary about the funeral procession of Edward VII, which had taken place a couple of days earlier. This experience didn't last for long though and the venue soon reverted to its original purpose. However with attendance and revenues declining it became in 1923 the Barnes Picture House. The management team must have got it wrong though, and two years later Byfeld Hall was reopened as the Barnes Theatre by Philip Ridgeway. The producer staged two adaptations of Thomas Hardy's works, Tess of the D'Ubervilles in 1925 and The Mayor of Casterbridge in 1926 as well as five Russian plays by Chekov and Gogol directed and designed by Fyodor Fyodorovich Komissarzhevsky. Yet once more the operation ran into financial difficulties and the Barnes Theatre closed in 1928. For the next 25 years Byfeld Hall was mostly used as a cinema under a variety of names: the Barnes Cinema Theatre in 1928, the Ranelagh between 1930 and 1940, the Plaza between 1943 and 1951, and finally the New Vandyke between 1952 and 1953. In 1960 the building was purchased by Guild TV and transformed into a film studio. Nevertheless it was with its subsequent owners that Byfeld Hall became one of the music industry's most famous places.
Indeed in 1965 that building with a troubled financial history was bought by Cliff Adams and Keith Grant's Olympic Sound Studios. One year later they moved their recording studio from London's West End to Barnes. The Rolling Stones were among the first artists to record their LPs there. The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, David Bowie, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, and many others came to Barnes during the studio's heyday. The history of the Olympic Studios in Barnes was narrated by Pierre Perrone in an article for The Independent shortly before its closure on 30th January 2009.

The exterior of Byfeld Hall is of red brick dressed with stone in a Dutch baroque style. Until the early 1960s, a cupola on columns topped the corner tower on which the sign for the Picture House is painted. Originally the ground floor housed several shops. Their Edwardian windows were replaced by dark opaque-glazed ones when the studios were totally rebuilt and the exterior refurbished in 1989.


If this sign was painted in 1923 by the Barnes Picture House, it must have been boarded up by subsequent cinema operators keen to advertise their name rather than that of their failed predecessor.

Location: Church Street / Picture taken on: 26/11/2009