Monday, 13 December 2010

Fenner's, Wimbledon

Commuters who turned south as they came out of Haydons Road train station in Wimbledon would certainly have noticed this large sign for a local grocery shop. Nowadays the premises are occupied by the Wimbledon Upholstery.

Grocery &
Oil Stores
All Household Requisites

Location: Queen Street / Picture taken on: 14/03/2008

Friday, 10 December 2010

Suze and Dubonnet, Cozes

Here is a wall that illustrates perfectly the harsh competition between two of France's leading brands of aperitifs: Dubonnet and Suze. Between the early twentieth century and the 1960s they both painted thousands of signs across the country to try to attract customers. In 1922 Fernand Moureaux, the creator of Suze, announced he wanted to see the name of his aperitif painted in every French town and village. That would have been a staggering 36,000 signs at least (actually we can assume larger towns would have got more than one. Thus if his dream had come true the figure might have been well above 50,000!). In Cozes, Dubonnet came first but when the company did not renew its contract, Suze seized the opportunity to put its name on the wall and obliterate part of its competitor.

To the right of the 'U' of Suze appears what was certainly the name of the company that managed this wall: Bézicot (painted twice). A quick search online shows an advertising agency of that name existed in Bordeaux in the 1960s.

For more signs and information about Dubonnet, click here and here. For Suze, click here.

Location: Route de Bordeaux, Cozes, Charente-Maritime / Picture taken on: 07/06/2010

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pet and flower shop, Altenburg

Throughout the eastern part of Germany many painted signs can still be seen, often on unrestored buildings. Most of them were painted during the German Democratic Republic period, when paint was readily available and cheap, contrary to neon or plastic materials. Altenburg is no exception and even a rapid tour of the town will reveal signs for a whole range of trades and services.

Zoo Handlung Blumen
[Pet and Flower Shop]

The shop closed some time ago and the building is for sale (the posters behind the windows are there purely for decorative purposes). While I was taking some pictures, the neighbour came out and asked me if I was interested in buying it!

Location: Wallstraße, Altenburg, Thüringen / Picture taken on: 27/04/2010

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Curtis, Sherborne

The only trace Curtis seems to have left is this doorstep mosaic.

Location: Cheap Street, Sherborne, Dorset / Picture taken on: 15/08/2009

Monday, 6 December 2010

Shaving Saloon, Stockwell

Although one can no longer get a clean shave there, a ghost sign still decorates the upper part of this façade, between the first floor windows and the cornice.


Location: Stockwell Green / Picture taken on: 09/04/2008

Friday, 3 December 2010

Warehouse, Salisbury

If the two painted signs from this cathedral city I posted previously were well-preserved, the same cannot be said of this one. A multiplicity of layers doesn't help either to decipher it: a few letters can be identified here and there, but only one word is complete.


The building this sign is painted on, at 51 Silver Street, appears on a picture taken c 1955. Unfortunately the picture is too small and by then the sign had already badly faded (it is on the third building from the right, on the side wall between the top of the street light and the chimneys).
Old directories available online don't offer much help either, except maybe Kelly's Directory of the Leather Trades, published in 1880. Indeed under "Boot & Shoe Manufacturers - Wholesale" it lists James and William Moore, of Crispin House, Fisherton Street and 51 Silver Street. It is possible that some of the letters painted at some point just below the moulded stone cornice spellt "Moore". It may also be my imagination.

Location: Silver Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire / Picture taken on: 09/08/2009

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Everett's Stores, Walthamstow

For quite some time this large ghost sign remained hidden behind a billboard. When the latter was taken down earlier this year what was previously advertised finally appeared.
Everett's Stores was located about 50 yards south of St James Street station in Walthamstow as a picture of St James's Street taken in 1906 and available on the Francis Frith website reveals (Everett's is on the very right of the photo, behind the horse-drawn carriage with the tea advert). The name is mentioned in several documents published between 1894 and 1930 but none provides any additional information about the business.

Drapery &

It looks as if this wall had been previously covered by another sign.

Location: St James's Street / Picture taken on: 17/02/2010

Monday, 29 November 2010

Sandeman (Port and Brandy), Lisbon

Earlier this month I mentioned that while walking along the streets of Lisbon I came across a few adverts painted on glass. The first couple can be seen outside a convenience store and promote two of Sandeman's famous products: Port wine and brandy from Jerez.
The Sandeman website has several pages dedicated to the history and iconography of this company founded in 1790 by Scotsman George Sandeman (you must be 18 or older to visit it).
The brand is easily recognisable thanks to the powerful image of the Don, "dressed like the Spanish caballeros de Jerez in a Portuguese student’s cape and wide-brimmed hat". It was created in 1928 by George Massiot Brown, a Scottish artist who, given the fame of French poster artists at the time, signed his work "George Massiot" only.

The Don was originally created to advertise Port wine. His black image contrasted with the ruby of the glass of Port and the sunny background. However he became so popular that by the 1930s his image was being used to promote Sandeman's other products such as its Capa Negra brandy from Jerez in Spain.

The label on the bottle is particularly fine.

In a corner at the bottom of this glass advert is the name of the manufacturer

"T." stands for "Travessa". The premises, in the Chiado district of the Portuguese capital, are now occupied by a fashion shop.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

W. Heslop, Oxford Street

The ghost sign below reappeared when three buildings near Tottenham Court Road were demolished. Unfortunately I haven't found any information about W. Heslop. Maybe a book with old photographs of Oxford Street could shed some light on this business. I shall keep you posted if I come across something.

W. Heslop

Given that this sign was painted on a portion of wall relatively far away from the street, the buildings next door must have been pretty low; otherwise nobody could have seen it.

Location: Oxford Street / Picture taken on: 24/11/2010

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Private lock ups and taxis, Havant

On the side of a building are two ghost signs that stand out thanks to the decorative foliage in the corners and the middle of the upper one and the unusual shape of the lower one.

The upper sign was painted twice. The original sign advertized a

The more recent one reads
Lock Ups

The sign below was painted three times but only the most recent layer can be read:

It's a shame the lower part has completely disappeared.

Location: South Street, Havant, Hampshire / Picture taken on: 30/05/2010

Friday, 19 November 2010

Highgate Optical Manufacturing Co., Hornsey

I haven't found much information about the Highgate Optical Manufacturing Company, whose offices were located at St George's House, 44 Hatton Garden, in Clerkenwell. It produced spectacles frames, glasses, sunglasses and possibly some optical parts for photographers or photo studios. In the 1950s its range of spectacles for ladies included the 'Sonata' model, one pair of which is now in the collection of the College of Optometrists. It is possible the company was founded after the war as the first mention dates from 1947, when it exposed its products at the British Industries Fair held at Olympia exhibition centre. Then the name appears in several ophtalmology and photography journals published in the 1960s and 1970s, the last one dating from 1978.
The company had two factories: one in Lewisham, and one in Hornsey, where the ghost sign below can be seen.

46 Co.

Actually this was painted over one if not two earlier signs. Several letters can be seen here and there, including some written diagonally, but the gaps are too big to make any sense. At the bottom are the letters

Below the name of the company, a nice roundel with a manicule (a pointed hand) indicated the way to the goods entrance to truck drivers and delivery men.

Location: Tottenham Lane / Pictures taken on: 19/10/2010

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Panaderia Neptuno, Havana

Naming a bakery after the Roman god of water and the sea may seem a bit strange (Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and grain crops could have been more appropriate) but actually, this shop takes its name from the street it is in.

Inside, customers can get not only bread at a fixed subsidized price in Cuban pesos (see the second part of an earlier post), but also other bakery products, which are not available with the ration book, and are sold at free market prices. As one can easily imagine, these "luxury goods", such as the croissant Neptune holds in his hand, can be extremely costly for those on an average wage and without access to hard currency. Provided, of course, that they are available in the first place!

ofertas de
24 horas
Offers of
At Free Market Prices
Open 24 Hours

8 is not the street number (which is 118) but the number allocated to this outlet in the local trade register.

Location: Calle Neptuno, Havana / Pictures taken on: 05/04/2010

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

W. J. Perry, Sutton

Located at the northern end of Sutton High Street, Perry the fruiterer had this sign painted twice. Indeed originally the name was written horizontally. However traces of other words here and there would suggest another advert had been previously painted on this wall.

W. J.
High Class
Waited on Daily

Location: High Street / Picture taken on: 27/08/2009

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Redfern's rubber heels, Fulham

After posting an advert for Redfern's rubber mats and a bit about the company's history five months ago, here is a sign promoting their rubber heels. Contrary to most signs for Redfern still visible in London, which were painted on large blind walls, this well-preserved example stands above the entrance and display windows of what was certainly a shoe shop.

Save Money
In Fulham For
Make Walking
A Pleasure

Location: Munster Road / Picture taken on: 17/04/2008

Monday, 15 November 2010

Woodcraft, Twickenham

A very simple sign, now partly hidden by the roof next door.


Location: Laurel Avenue / Picture taken on: 21/05/2008

Friday, 12 November 2010

Dairy shop, Lisbon

I just came back from Lisbon, where I saw only a handful of walls with very basic painted signs. However there are countless adverts on azulejos - painted tiles - plus a few on glass, and over the next weeks and months, I shall have the pleasure of presenting some of them.

Azulejos were introduced in Portugal in the fifteenth century. Originally they were used to decorate and lower temperatures in palaces and churches but as production techniques evolved and costs diminished, they began appearing in individual houses, public places and shops. The use of azulejos for advertising purposes developed in the late nineteenth century. Even though a few companies, such as Firestone, had relatively high numbers of azulejos manufactured to advertise their products, the vast majority of commercial azulejos were commissioned to decorate and promote specific shops or businesses. Some businesses in both Portugal and Spain still have some made especially for them but the heyday of the commercial azulejos was between the turn of the twentieth century and the 1950s.

The example below can be found by the front window of what used to be a dairy (literally a "milk and butter shop"). Unfortunately the lower part of the panel of azulejos below, which bore the name of the shop, has been damaged and a plain white tile has been used to replace a missing one. At least the ideal country scene, in typical blue and white colours, is still intact.



Could the name of the shop have been A Garota (The Girl)? The presence of a joyful farm girl could lead us to think so.

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo in the former Convento da Madre de Deus, had a book (in Portuguese) about commercial azulejos but the text was rather disappointing and although some of the pictures were nice enough, I thought the price tag was really excessive.

Location: Rua de São José, Lisbon / Pictures taken on: 06/11/2010

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Baker & pastry cook, Catford

Why were such small letters used when there is so much space? Actually this sign was painted on at least two occasions but the main part, including the name of the store, has almost disappeared.

Sangley [*]
Baker & Pastry Cook
All Goods Handmade
On the Premises
Bread and Rolls
Fresh Daily

*: I am not absolutely sure this is correct. The letters that can still be seen in the upper fifth of the sign are "S...LEY". Since Sangley Road runs nearby, that seems a reasonable assumption. However it doesn't seem to belong to the sign advertising the bakery and may well have been promoting a completely different business altogether as another line at least was written with the same font further down at the same level as "Baker & Pastry Cook". A closer look at the upper part also shows a line was written in red. My guess is this was the name of the baker.

Location: Muirkirk Road / Picture taken on: 23/07/2009

Thursday, 21 October 2010

W. G. Child & Sons, Wandsworth

W. G. Child & Sons, high class tailors, was established as a limited company in 1890 by William George Child. However the family had already been making bespoke suits and garments for around 120 years. W. G. Child chose to settle in Wandsworth for two reasons: the small town and surrounding area were relatively prosperous and there wasn't any other tailoring business targeting wealthier customers around. As the number of customers grew, the decision was taken after a few years to open a second shop in Clapham Junction. This branch remained in business until it was destroyed by a bomb during the Second World War. The shop in Wandsworth was also damaged but was rebuilt after the war. Nowadays the company is managed by the fifth Child generation.
The Child shop is a bit of an oddity, a reminder of the past, in a short High Street filled mostly with cheap shops and greasy-food outlets with tatty frontages.

Location: Wandsworth High Street / Picture taken on: 23/05/2008

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Groceries, Wood Green

A grocery shop replaced a business by the name of Marsons in this quiet residential area. Several shops are still opened at the end of Whittington Road but the premises once occupied by the grocery shop have been converted into housing.

Groceries / Marsons

Location: Whittington Road / Picture taken on: 19/10/2010

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Bakery and pastry shop, Sangerhausen

The building may have been abandoned for many years but the sign of this bakery and pastry shop is still with us today. Otto Nebel the baker never became as famous as Otto Nebel the expressionist poet, actor, painter and printmaker, and nothing about him or his business seems to be available online. I couldn't even ask locals about that bakery as I didn't see anyone around. The freezing temperatures and the thick layer of ice in the streets may explain why I was alone outside that morning.

Sangerhausen Bakery Bäckerei Ghost Sign
Sangerhausen Bakery Bäckerei Ghost Sign
Otto Nebel

Note the old spelling 'Conditorei' ('pastry shop'). Many words had their 'C' replaced by a more Germanic 'K' from the mid-1920s onwards.
This sign was painted on two occasions at least. The font used for the original version looked far more elaborate as the picture below illustrates.

Sangerhausen Bakery Bäckerei Ghost Sign
Location: corner of Salpetergasse and Töpfersberg, Sangerhausen, Sachsen-Anhalt / Pictures taken on: 23/12/2009

Thursday, 7 October 2010

J. Graven, Ely

James Graven founded his agricultural engineering business in 1860, exporting products to India and other parts of the world. These first years may have been difficult and he was declared bankrupt by the Ely courts in July 1869. However Craven rebounced after that setback and started making steam tractors and other machines, mostly for agricultural purposes. Around this time the firm was located at 1 Annedale terrace (1875 edition of the Post Office Directory) but relocated a few years later to Broad Street (1883 edition of Kelly's Directory) where it remained, apparently, until the early 2000s. In 1912, following a meeting with Henry Ford, James Craven ventured into the motor vehicles industry. Little is known about the following years. Craven continued to sell steam machines as well as Ford tractors and Ford Anglia cars. The company's name is listed in several magazines for the farming industry but nothing of major importance seemed to have occurred until 1969. That year, the Agricultural Machinery Journal, included the following short article:
Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd, agricultural engineers and agents of Fulbourn, near Cambridge, have taken over the Ford tractor and agricultural engineering side of the business of James Graven & Sons Ltd, 17 High Street, Chatteris, Cambs, and Broad Street, Ely. The service will be continued at Ely and Fulbourn.
Since then James Graven has been specialising in retailing, in particular of locally-produced food, and runs several shops in partnership with Budgens, BP and Spar in the Ely - Cambridge area.

J. Graven
Engineer and
Agricultural Machinist

The house where this sign was painted may have been the family home of James Craven and his successors. The workshop and showrooms were located just across the street. Most of the site was demolished a few years ago but one of the showrooms survived and was converted into a dwelling.

The company's website doesn't include much information about the history of James Craven, but they have a few interesting photographs, including one on which the showroom, to the left of the church, is in its original state (third picture. On the same photograph, look for the house with two windows opposite the production site's exit: you may be able to make out the painted sign, just about...).

Location: Broad Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire / Pictures taken on: 03/07/2010

Thursday, 30 September 2010

The National News and the Sunday Evening Telegram, Battersea

It is quite amazing how some ghost signs advertising products that disappeared decades ago managed to survive for so long virtually untouched. Such is the case of the one below, which encourages people to read two different Sunday papers, both of which were last published in the early 1920s.

The weekly National News was first published in 1917, the same year Sir Henry Dalziel, the Liberal MP for Kirkaldy and owner at the time of several papers including Reynold's News, launched the Sunday Evening Telegram. Although several newspapers were published on Sundays, there was until then no evening paper. Two editions of the Telegram were printed each week.
In October 1919 Sunday Publications Ltd, a syndicate headed by Horatio Bottomley, MP for South Hackney and the greatest swindler in Edwardian Britain, acquired a controlling interest in both papers. Actually the way Bottomley obtained the money to buy these two publications was unorthodox to say the least: he simply diverted some of the money sent by the public to the Victory Bond Club (the Victory Bond Club was the greatest sting ever mounted by Bottomley, a man with considerable experience in that field!). Bottomley became their editor, a position he shared with Charles Palmer, who in 1920 was elected independent MP for the Wrekin. For his work, Bottomley was paid £2000 a year plus ten per cent of annual profits. He also received 75,000 shares of Sunday Publications Ltd. Yet both papers, which were printed by Odhams Press, had a relatively small circulation and didn't make any profit. In 1921 Bottomley converted the National News into the Sunday Illustrated and ran it in competition with the Sunday Pictorial, for which he had been writing a weekly column until then. Expensive to produce, the Sunday Illustrated only lasted for a few years. As for the Sunday Evening Telegram, it disappeared in 1921.

Spend a Happy Sunday
With the
National News
Sunday Evening
... ... of Horatio Bottomley MP

A few years ago the future of this ghost sign looked uncertain. Indeed Clear Channel UK Ltd installed a high level revolving and illuminated billboard on this wall. When Wandworth Council objected to it, the company argued it didn't need consent from the Council since this location was being used for the purpose of advertising since 1st April 1974. This was challenged and the matter was eventually settled in the High Court, where two judges ruled in favour of the Council: since the two newspapers were last published in 1921, this sign couldn't be considered as still being used for advertising purposes on 1st April 1974. Consequently the billboard was taken down.

Location: Hafer Road / Picture taken on: 07/03/2008

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

G. & W. E. Downing, Maltsters, Gloucester (2)

Yesterday I presented the sign painted by George and William E. Downing on the second malthouse of their Gloucester site. Further expansion took place in 1901 with the addition of malthouses 3 and 4. Like malthouse 2, they were designed by Walter B. Wood and built by the Gurney Brothers. Both malthouses were of a similar interior design, with a basement working floor, a malt room, two more working floors, and two attics. A kiln was located at the north end of each. Malthouse 4 was slightly wider though, with an extra bay supported by pillars over the canal quay.

MaltstersG. & W. E. Downing...s
Head Office Spon Lane Smethwick

In 1931 G. & W. E. Downing was taken over by rival maltsters Samuel Thompson & Sons, also of Smethwick. However it was decided to retain the name Downing for the Gloucester side of the business. Founded in 1805, Samuel Thompson had almagated in 1928 with Gilstrap Earp, Edward Sutcliffe, and W. J. Robson to form Associated British Maltsters (ABM), but each company retained its trading name.
In the 1950s the original malthouse was largely demolished and replaced by a concrete building and the two more recent ones were slightly modified to improve productivity. Yet the face of the industry was changing, with the introduction of new technology and the arrrival on the British market of international groups. In 1972, ABM was taken over by Australian company Dalgety that was expanding rapidly its UK interests. Once the purchase was completed, Dalgety decided to replace the name Downing by ABM. Production at the Gloucester malthouses came to an end in 1980 after Dalgety opened a brand new plant at Wallingford. The site was sold then to the West Midlands Farmers.

When Malthouses 3 and 4 were built, a bridge was erected across Merchant Street to link them to the earlier ones. In the 1970s it was painted with the ABM initials. The sign posted yesterday is on the first wall on the left. Behind the bridge is the contrete malthouse that replaced the original 1876 facilities.

For more information about G. & W. E. Downing, you can refer to the excellent article "Downing's Malthouses" published in 2008 in the Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal.

Location: Merchant Road, Gloucester, Gloucestershire / Pictures taken on: 24/07/2010

Monday, 27 September 2010

G. & W. E. Downing, Maltsters, Gloucester (1)

Maltsters George and William E. Downing from Smethwick in the West Midlands opened their first malthouse in Gloucester in 1876. As their business expanded, they built a second malthouse to the north of the original building in 1895. Designed by Walter B. Wood and built by the Gurney Brothers, it consisted of three ranges. The first two included a basement with a steeping tank in which barley was soaked usually for a couple of days and a working floor where the barley was allowed to germinate and sprout, a malt room where malt was stored and bagged, two more working floors, and an attic where barley was stored. The third range, to the north included a large malt kiln and a smaller barley kiln, where germination was inhibited. Part of this building was also used to clean and repair returned malt sacks. The absence of windows on the upper floors of the third range gave Downing ample space to advertise their business.

G. & W. E. Downing
Head Office Spon Lane Smethwick
Branch Malt... [Malthouses]
Smethwick *
Birmingham *
West Bromwich *
Wednesbury *
Walsall *
Bristol *
Tewkesbury *
Gloucester *
Oswestry *
Oxford *
This sign was painted twice. Originally, the names of towns and cities were written in larger letters (they are indicated by a '*'). However as G. & W. E. Downing expanded, it became necessary to list more locations, hence the smaller font. The order was also altered.

Update: the fourth line should read "Branch Maltings" (and not "Malthouses"). Thank you very much to Aztec for pointing that out. See comments below.

View of the sign was partly obscured when two more malthouses were built in 1901 between Merchant Street and Bakers Quay on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. On the picture below, it is seen from the tow path that runs on the other side of the canal.

Location: Merchant Road, Gloucester, Gloucestershire / Pictures taken on: 24/07/2010

Friday, 24 September 2010

Whitehead, ironmonger, Sevenoaks

A very neat and well-preserved sign spotted on the way to Sevenoaks centre from the station but about which I haven't found any information.

Builders Merchant
Iron Founder
Monumental and General Mason
Works Tub's Hill station

Sevenoaks station was originally known as Tub's Hill, after the part of town it is located in.

Location: London Road, Sevenoaks, Kent / Picture taken on: 13/07/2008

Friday, 17 September 2010

Yager's, Stamford Hill

If early mornings get any nippier, it will soon be time to get winter coats out of the wardrobre or to buy a new one. Decades ago, people in northeast London might have found the right garment at Yager's clothes shop on Stamford Hill. Unfortunately two modern billboards hide part of this sign. It would be interesting to see what else could be purchased at Yager's...


Buy Your
And Save


Location: Ravensdale Road / Pictures taken on: 04/06/2008

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Berger's Magicote, Chiswick

I didn't post anything over the past two weeks partly because I was busy redecorating some rooms, splashing paint on walls, door frames and mouldings. Although I didn't use Berger's Magicote, the sign below is certainly the right one to resume activities on this blog.
The origins of Berger date back to the second half of the eighteenth century and the arrival in London of Louis Amelius Christanus Adolphus Steigenberger from Frankfurt. Ten years later, in 1770, he shortened his name to Lewis Berger. The Friends of the Old Paint Company have assembled a very good website with a detailed history of Berger and the different companies that ultimately formed Berger, Jenson & Nicholson. Simply click on the History link.

One-Coat Paint
The World's Most
Advanced Paint
Wallpapers (Ealing) Ltd

This painted sign, which must date from the 1960s, also included a drawing of two pots of Berger One-Coat Magicote Gloss.
The presence of "Wallpapers (Ealing) Ltd" on the sign is a bit of a mystery. I haven't found much information about the company but it doesn't appear to be linked to Berger or any company it joined forces with. Maybe a DIY shop existed in the building where this sign was painted and it was responsible for this addition?

Update: this ghost sign has now disappeared (July 2011)

Location: Chiswick High Road / Picture taken on: 22/05/2008

Friday, 3 September 2010

Strongs, Upper Clapton

If Hinton and R. Gunner in Wembley thought mentioning the origin of their meat was a good selling argument, Strongs didn't bother with it as only the best meat available was sold in his shop. At least that's what he claimed...

Upper Clapton Butcher Strongs Best Quality Meat
Best Quality

Location: Northwold Road / Picture taken on: 10/04/2008

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Jolly & Son, Bath

Bath's most famous premium department store, Jolly & Son was opened by James Jolly in 1831. Initially called The Bath Emporium and located at 12, Milsom Street, it sold fine silk, furs and ribbons from Paris. Over the following decades the owners bought adjacent premises and by 1903 Jolly & Son stretched from number 7 to 14. The peacock, which was chosen as the trade emblem of this exclusive shop, can be found not only on friezes but also on this beautiful mosaic. Unfortunately it is by an entrance which is closed and used to store the bins.

Jolly & Son Bath Limtd

In 1968 Jolly & Son was acquired by E. Dingles & Co Ltd. Three years later, Dingles became part of the House of Fraser chain. Even though House of Fraser has been rebranding the stores it acquired under its name, the stag hasn't replaced the peacock...

Location: Milsom Street, Bath, Somerset / Pictures taken on 17/07/2010

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Girls' school, Weymouth

Today is the first day of September and soon pupils and teachers will be going back to school, as they certainly did at this girls' school more than a century ago.

Two signs have been painted by the entrance of this early nineteenth century town house. The original reads
Boarding & Day

The more recent one reads
Girls' School
. Harvey

Location: Trinity Street, Weymouth, Dorset / Picture taken on: 08/08/2009

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Court Hairdresser, Haslemere

Here is a sign I first saw several years ago but whenever I passed by it, it was always quite dark. Yesterday, at the end of a walk through the southwest corner of Surrey, I finally managed to get a decent picture.
This stylish sign was painted most certainly in 1920. Indeed a 1933 issue of The Law Journal Reports mentions the business of a hairdresser established by one Kingsley in 1920 at The Pavement, Haslemere. In 1925 it was taken over by Miss Stevens, who in 1932 sued the local electricity company, hence the reference in a journal that isn't found usually in hairdressing salons. Miss Stevens took the Hindhead Co. (previously the Hindhead Electricity Co, with whom Kingsley had signed the original contract) to court after it increased in 1929 the pressure on the mains from 100 to 220 volts and the transformer it had installed to cope with it allegedly damaged the permanent waiving machines, hair-driers and other electrical equipment she used.

Court Hairdresser
...son Kingsley
The Pavement

Location: High Street, Haslemere, Surrey / Picture taken on: 30/08/2010

Friday, 27 August 2010

Cognac: the northern part of the city centre

The ghost signs that make up this series can be found in the northern part of the city centre, roughly to the northeast of the Place d'Armes and along the northern stretch of the Boulevard Denfert-Rochereau.

The Rue du Canton may be short, but traces of two bygone shops can be spotted there. The one at the corner with the Rue Emile Albert was most certainly a favourite with children as on both facades, it said...

Jouets d'enfants
[Toys for Kids]

Jouets d'enfants

A few metres away, those who needed to do some decorating could have purchased the necessary paints and tools.


Hardware Shop
Paint Brushes

The Rue du Canton leads to the Place du Canton, where only a fraction of a painted sign has survived.

Unfortunately too much of it disappeared when the first-floor window was opened for me to be able to recognize this logo. The entrance to the shop though is worth noticing.

Actually the premises of Drouneau & Fils continued down the Rue Henri Germain but they may not be behind the ghost signs there.

A difficult one to read as there are two signs.
Au Bon Bou...n


Apart from a few letters, I really can't make anything out of the one found further down the street

From a distance, the sign at the corner of the Rue Magdeleine and the Rue Duplessis with its ornage-ish tones reminds me of some examples from Bath.

The premises housed once a
Photographe [Photographer]
However a completely different range of goods were sold there at a later stage:
Chaussures [Shoes]

Sometimes it is amazing how many letters a sign writer can cram in a given space. The ones for this sign in the Rue Duplessis are high but extremely narrow. Having several layers doesn't make any reading easy.

Here as well, I can spot many letters but they don't make much sense.

After passing through little winding streets, one comes on the Boulevard Denfer-Rochereau, where all the signs below can be seen.

Hotel-restaurant Central

The local office of Sud-Ouest, the regional newspaper based in Bordeaux but with several local editions, was conveniently located not too far from the town hall.


The next sign, which has been slightly amputated, takes us back to a time when France was still a colonial power. It must have been painted before 1960, the year most colonies in Africa gained independence.

Denrées coloniales
[Foodstuffs from the Colonies]

I was a bit late to avoid the sharp contrast on this former garage.

There are at least three superimposed layers there. The oldest one ended with
The only other fully legible part gives us the name of the garagist:
Roger Archibaud

Finally just before reaching the bridge over the River Charente and leaving the centre of Cognac, one can admire the Château de Cognac, birthplace of King François I. Although the fortifications and the cellars were built between the early XIth and the XIVth centuries, most of the castle was actually rebuilt between 1450 and 1517. During the French Revolution the castle, which belonged to the brother of Louis XVI, the Comte d'Artois (future Charles X) was sold to Otard and Dupuy, owners of one of the most successful trading houses of Cognac. The castle is open to the public as this sign, just behind the gate, indicates. For those who can't make it to Cognac, the website of Otard offers the possibility of a virtual visit.

Les ... ...e
Château de Cognac
Musée François Ier
S'adresser au concierge
The ... ...
Cognac Castle
François I Museum
See With the Caretaker
Something else was painted in black letters, including 'Public'.

All pictures taken on: 03/06/2010