Thursday, 28 July 2011

Furniture factory, Istanbul

Part of this post was rewritten following the comment left by Bert.

As today marks the second anniversary of this blog I thought I ought to post something special. That's why we are heading once more towards Istanbul for one of these rather exceptional ghost signs I mentioned in my first post about the city's painted signs.
Contrary to the Konica Minolta sign or the Karbosan, Oerlikon and Teka palimpsest, which occupy prominent positions and are relatively recent, this one is in a narrow street that climbs from the neighbourhood of Tophane on the Bosphorus shore to İstiklâl Caddesi, the famous avenue that runs through the upper part of the Beyoğlu district (formerly called Cadde-i Kebir, it used to be better known to foreigners by its French name, Grande Rue de Pera). It is also much older and may even date from the time when the city was still called Constantinople (the name was officially changed in 1930).

Much more importantly, this ghost sign is a perfect illustration of the cosmopolitan character of the city at the time. Indeed this furniture factory belonged to A. Loucrezis, a member of the Greek community (here the latinized form of the name is spellt with a "c", although keeping the "k" as in Greek would have been certainly more correct), who advertised his trade in three languages, Ottoman Turkish, but using the Armenian script, Greek, and French.

Thanks to its political, economic and religious importance, the capital of the Byzantine and then Ottoman empire attracted throughout much of its history people from across Europe, Asia, and north Africa, who settled alongside the Turkish and Greek populations. In the 19th century, the district of Beyoğlu (or Pera as it was known by then) became home to many Europeans traders, businessmen, and official representatives of foreign governments. French was at the time the international language par excellence and was often used to bridge the language barrier between communities. It was also the language of the elite: many Ottoman statesmen, educators, bureaucrats, and intellectuals were educated at the Lycée Impérial Ottoman de Galata-Sérai, in the heart of Beyoğlu, where courses were taught in French (some classes still are). Although French continued to be spoken during the first half of the 20th century, its use began to decline when foreign communities started to leave the city during and after the First World War. Thus even if Loucrezis's business was certainly relatively modest, it is not surprising to find that part of the sign was written in French.
Yet the two largest minorities in the city were the Greek and Armenian ones. According to official statistics published in 1914, more than 205,000 Greeks and almost 83,000 Armenians lived in the city, alongside more than 560,000 Muslims. A good proportion of them lived in the district of Beyoğlu. The working class neighbourhood of Tophane in particular was populated until the First World War mostly by Greeks and Armenians. This explains why the factory's sign was written in Greek and possibly why the Armenian script rather than the Turkish Ottoman script (based itself on the Arabic script) was used for the Turkish version as many of Loucrezis's customers would have belonged to these communities. Although there were differences between Turkish and the Armenian dialect spoken in Constantinople (itself a subdialect of Western Armenian), members of the Armenian community would have been able to read this painted sign. However it must be added that it was not uncommon for Turkish to be written using the Armenian script as the Ottoman Turkish script was relatively complex and Turks who did not receive a good education very often struggled to read it. Thus by resorting to the Armenian alphabet, Loucrezis killed two birds with one stone.

Converted to the romanized Turkish ortography this part of the sign, written using the Armenian script, reads Mefruşat Fabrikası, which translates as "Furniture Factory" (many thanks to Bert for providing the translation).
Unfortunately what was written underneath the window has faded far too much to be able to read anything. I can't even tell which language was used but I would assume it was once more Turkish written with Armenian letters.

This part of the sign shows the name of the owner written in both Latin and Greek letters, while the Greek inscription underneath the window can be translated as "Furniture Factory."


For the French part of the sign, which is slightly longer than its Turkish and Greek counterparts, one has to look at the left door jamb.

Something was also written on the right door jamb but it has faded too much to be able to decipher anything.

Unfortunately I haven't found any information about Loucrezis's furniture factory. It would have been interesting to find out when the factory closed and in which circumstances. Did the owner retire and nobody took over? Did he go bankrupt, and why? Or was he forced to leave the city?
Indeed in the first decade of the 20th century, several nationalist movements, including the Young Turks, started 'encouraging' non-ethnic Turks to leave the country. The assets of those who left were usually transferred to the Turkish bourgeoisie. Although several minorities were affected, given its size, the Greek community of Istanbul felt originally relatively secure. The situation worsened during the First World War, the ensuing Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, and following the establishment of the Turkish republic, when hundreds of thousands of Greeks were massacred, executed, or deported. In 1923 the two countries signed the "Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations", which only ratified what had already happened and was still continuing on the ground. Within a few years, around 1.5 million Orthodox Greeks and half a million Muslims voluntarily or forcibly left Turkey and Greece respectively. The criteria weren't ethnic but religious. Given the religious importance of Istanbul for Orthodox Greeks though, the community of the city was excluded from the agreement but even for these, living and economic conditions deteriorated. Many members of the different minorities felt intimidated or pressured and progressively left Beyoğlu, where they were replaced by ethnic Turks from Anatolia. Some resettled elsewhere in the city but many left Turkey altogether. The economic situation of minorities deteriorated further following the adoption by parliament in 1932 of a law that banned foreigners from 30 professions. As a result 5,000 Greeks left Turkey within one year. Since carpentry was one of the occupations included in the list, it is possible Loucrezis was forced to shut his factory down. In 1935 a law forced Turkish citizens to adopt a surname, and on this occasion non-ethnic Turks were encouraged to take Turk-sounding names. In the case of the Greeks, they were asked to drop the endings in "-dis" or "-poulos". Other measures that increased pressure on minorities included the obligation in 1938 for all inhabitants of the country to speak Turkish in public, bans on their cultural activities, or the replacement of teachers in their schools. In 1942, as the economic downturn caused by the Second World War left a hole in the country's finances, the government introduced the Valig Vergisi, a wealth tax that only affected non-Muslim minorities and aimed at ending the quasi-monopoly of the non-Muslim bourgoisie on the economy.
Yet events took a more dramatic turn in September 1955, when, following an attack on the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki (it was later proven that the bomb had been planted by a Turkish nationalist), groups of Turkish nationalists attacked properties of the Greek and other non-Muslim communities in Istanbul and Izmir. In two days, 16 Greeks died and dozens were wounded. Seventy-three Greek Orthodox churches, one synagogue, eight chapels and two monasteries were devastated. A total of 5,538 properties were sacked, burnt and destroyed, 3,584 of which belonged to Greeks. Between 50 and 200 women (the figures vary) were assaulted or raped. Was it in the aftermath of these dramatic events that Loucrezis's factory closed? Or did he stay and tried to survive in spite of the boycott of Greek businesses organised by several nationalist movements? Nine years later, 12,000 Greeks who didn't hold a Turkish passport were deported. Between 1955 and 1965, the Greek community of Istanbul shrank from between 80,000 and 100,000 to 48,000. More left in 1974-75 when the conflict in Cyprus re-ignited tensions between communities in Turkey. By 1978 it is estimated 7,000 Greeks lived in Istanbul. At present, around 2,500 still live there. Maybe one is a descendant of A. Loucrezis.

Given the political upheavals of the past century, it is quite astonishing that this ghost sign survived. Let's hope it will still be with us for decades to come.

Location: Kumbaraci Yokuşu, Beyoğlu, Istanbul / Pictures taken on: 17/06/2011

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

J. Girling & Sons, Leyton

According to a 1952 issue of The Estates Gazette, auctioneers J. Girling & Sons had their main office on High Road, Woodford Green, a couple of miles north of this ghost sign. Did the auctioneering firm have a branch in Leyton? Maybe there was more information on the part of the wall now painted in white?
If the firm's name is rather plain, the downstrokes and upstrokes of "Auctioneers" really catch one's attention.

J. Girling & Sons

Location: Balmoral Road / Picture taken on: 15/05/2011

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Wessex Hotel, Gloucester


Located near Gloucester stations (*), the Wessex was one of several hotels catering essentially for rail passengers and one can imagine many commercial travellers stayed there. However, with stations and goods depots nearby, the Wessex and its immediate competitors were certainly not for light sleepers!

The part of the city to the northeast of the former city walls, between Eastgate and the market, experienced a period of rapid development from the 1830s onward, fuelled by the development of Gloucester as an industrial centre and the subsequent increase of its population. The opening of the city's first railway station on land near the cattle market in 1840 accelerated the growth of the area. The Wellington Hotel opened shortly afterwards opposite the station and, just across the road, the Gloucester Hotel welcome its first customers in 1854. The two were then joined by the Spread Eagle Hotel (however it closed in 1898 and was converted into the YMCA). Station Road (formerly Market Street), which ran for most of its course alongside the Midland Railway's goods depot, was one of the last roads to be developed but the opening of the Midland Railway station at its eastern end in 1896 led to the construction of several prominent buildings, including the Royal Hotel in 1898 opposite the newly-built station, and in 1903, next to the 1895 County Chambers, the Wessex Hotel with its distinctive ground floor façade of green glazed tiles.

The manicule pointing to the hotel has badly faded

It seems the Wessex Hotel closed down towards the end of the Second World War. Its owner(s) had the property valued in 1944-45 with a view to selling it. The building subsequently housed several offices, while the ground floor is now home to an Indian restaurant.

For those who missed the painted sign, the name of the hotel was also inscribed above the entrance door.

*: the development of railways in Gloucester is relatively complex. By the time the Wessex Hotel opened in 1903, the city had two stations linked by a footbridge: one for the Great Western Railway and one for the Midland Railway (in 1951 they were renamed Gloucester Central and Gloucester Eastgate respectively). Eastgate closed in December 1975 and all services that used it were rerouted to Gloucester Central. The latter was redeveloped a couple of years later and is the station currently in use.

Location: Station Road / Clarence Street / Pictures taken on: 24/07/2010

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

H. Callcut & Son, Finsbury Park

This ghost sign is in such a good state that one can wonder if it hasn't been restored. Of course the other possiblity is that it is rather recent. In any case, H. Callcut & Son doesn't seem to be trading at this address anymore.

H. Callcut & Son.
Roof & Drain
Sanitary Plumbing
Whitewashing &
General Repairs

The scroll on which Callcut is written is certainly unusual but I think a better effect would have been achieved if it hadn't been so perfectly symetrical. However the different letterings used to list Callcut's specialist work are particularly elegant. Together with the embellishing decorative lines, they really make the lower part of this ghost sign very special.

Location: Blackstock Road / Pictures taken on: 01/04/2008 and 06/04/2011

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Woolverton & Co, New Cross

Woolverton & Co was only one of the businesses set up by wine merchant Charles Frederick Forbes Buckingham. In all likelihood Buckingham was born in 1870 and baptised on the 28th July of that year at St Mary's Church, Lewisham. He died on 19th September 1939. A few weeks later, on 24th November, The London Gazette published the following notice:
Pursuant to the Trustee Act, 1925.
NOTICE is hereby given that all persons having any debts claims or demands against the estate of Charles Frederick Forbes Buckingham late of 25 Sydenham Hill London Wine Merchant and lately carrying on business under the style of Woolverton & Co. at 183 Lewisham High Road London and under the style of the Anchor Stores at 282 High Road Wood Green London who died intestate on the 19th September 1939 and of whose estate letters of administration were on the 7th November 1939 granted to Katie Evelyn Buckingham and John Villiers Forbes Buckingham out of the Principal Probate Registry are hereby required to send written particulars thereof to the undersigned on or before the 3rd February 1940 after which date the said estate will be distributed having regard only to the claims then notified.—Dated this
16th day of November 1939.
SANDOM KERSEY and TILLEARDS, 12, Deptford High Street, S.E.8, Solicitors (089) for the said Administrators.
What happened to Woolverton & Co following Buckingham's death? The name suggests he had some partners but whether they kept the business going is unknown.

Wollverton & Co
Wine & Spirit

Location: Lewisham Way / Picture taken on: 23/07/2009

Monday, 18 July 2011

Bevin, Bevin & Co, Arundel

A wholesaler of kitchen and other household goods, Bevin, Bevin & Co was founded in the ealy 1950s. Unfortunately since the company's doesn't have its own website and only its address appears online, I don't have more information about it.

Bevin, Bevin & Co. Ltd.

However the buildings occupied by Bevin, Bevin & Co have an interesting history as they were originally part of the Eagle Brewery. There are some uncertainties regarding the early history of the brewery. It appears to have been founded in the late 1720s or early 1730s. In the late 1820s (possibly 1828) it was taken over by Puttock & Co, who had tied houses in Arundel, Littlehampton, Angmering and certainly a few other places across Sussex. A few years later, in 1832, it passed into the hands of Robert Watkins, the agent of the Duke of Norfolk. One could easily imagine there were not only economic but also political reasons behind this acquisition. Indeed the owner of Arundel Castle was also the local MP and his main opponent at parliamentary elections was George Constable, who owned the Swallow Brewery, Arundel's other brewery, and controlled six public houses in the town. Between 1839 and 1871 the Eagle Brewery was tenanted to William Osborn and William Duke. In 1872 the brewery and its 22 tied housed passed into the hands of Henry Harrison. Six years later it was acquired by Isaac Cowley Lambert and Edward Thomas Norris, who founded around 1882 Lambert & Co. By 1898 the company changed its name to Lambert & Norris Ltd. Under Lambert & Norris's ownership, the number of pubs tied to the Eagle Brewery increased to 81 but in spite of this apparent success, difficult times laid ahead. By the turn of the 20th century sales of beer were declining as more and more people were switching to water and several breweries went through hard times. This precipitated a wave of amalgations and take overs in which small players in the brewing industry became preys for larger companies. In 1910 Lambert & Norris's brewery and pubs were taken over by Friary, Holroyd & Healys Brewery Ltd of Guildford, the forerunners of Friary Meux Ltd. The new owners continued to produce beer in Arundel for about 25 more years (although according to some sources it stopped c. 1915) but by the late 1930s, all brewing activity had ceased and the site became used as a depot only. Nowadays, apart from the buildings between Tarrant Street and River Road bought by Bevin, Bevin & Co, traces of the Eagle Brewery can be seen in Tarrant Street. At one end of a row of houses once owned by the brewery the pub The Eagle is still open to customers, while at the opposite end, the inscription "Eagle Brewery Offices" can still be seen on the façade.

Location: Brewery Hill, Arundel, West Sussex / Picture taken on: 11/07/2010

Sunday, 17 July 2011

News of the World, Seven Sisters and Croydon


Location: West Green Road / Picture Taken on: 04/06/2008

Enamel signs don't fall within the limits set by the title of this blog but I couldn't resist celebrating the first Sunday without one of Britain's crappiest tabloids, News of the World (for a painted sign, check this picture taken around 1912). Founded in 1843 this weekly publication quickly specialised in reporting crimes and titillating the lowest instincts of its readers (anything that involved sex was always good enough). Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the title in 1969 didn't lead to any improvement of its contents, far from it. Much has been written lately about the very dodgy, if not illegal, methods used by the paper to get its scoops and which led to its demise. Unfortunately there are still many rags of the same kind out there.

Newsagent . Tobacconist
Order Here
Of The
Best Sunday Paper

Location: Surrey Street / Picture taken on: 17/06/2008

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Local Arms China, Kingston

Here is a most intriguing sign, or rather name: "Local Arms China". What could that have been? A souvenir shop maybe, as "Picture Postcards" could suggest? I once headed to the local library, hoping to find a mention or a picture of that particular shop, but I had to give up after going through the whole local history shelf. So here I am, still scatching my head everytime I'm Kingston and pass in front of this building. If anyone could help, that would be most appreciated. Otherwise I'll go bold very soon!

Picture Postcards
Local Arms China

Location: Clarence Street / Picture taken on: 08/09/2008

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Launderette, Golders Green

Once again I haven't found any information about the business advertised through this ghost sign.

Actually the wall was painted on two occasions. The original ghost sign read:
It is possible it extended onto the lower part of the wall.

On the more recent ghost sign the name of the owners has disappeared, the focus being on the service provided:
28 min.Double
28 min.Self
Dry Cleaning

The opening times (7 am - ... pm) are now hidden by the growing thujas.

Location: Golders Green Road / Picture taken on 21/06/2011

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Tailor, Meissen

While the previous sign seen along Talstraße in Meissen was a really amazing palimpsest, this one is much simpler. It certainly dates from the late GDR period.

Damen u. Herrenmaßschneiderei
[Bespoke Tailoring for Ladies and Gentlemen]

Location: Talstraße, Meissen, Sachsen / Pictures taken on: 20/12/2009

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Brymay, Acton

Construction on the site of the former Acton tram depot is progressing and very soon the Brymay sign below will disappear.

The design of this post-WW2 ghost sign for Bryant & May, the country's leading manufacturer of matches, is virtually similar to the one in New Cross.


Although the upper part has now faded too much, one can assume the slogan "British Matches For British Homes" stood above the Brymay logo.

Location: Uxbridge Road / Picture taken on: 11/07/2011

Bad news from Chiswick

Unfortunately the ghost sign for Berger's Magicote at the corner of Chiswick High Road and Thornton Road has been completely obliterated.

Below is a detail of this sign showing the two pots of of Berger One-Coat Magicote Gloss.

Picture taken on: 22/05/2008

Monday, 11 July 2011

Winsor & Newton, Ealing

Founded by William Winsor and Henry Newton, two keen painters from London, Winsor & Newton has been supplying artists, arts students and amateur painters with fine art materials since 1832. The company's website includes a comprehensive history and, for those who can't make it to Harrow, a tour of the factory and of the museum.

G. W. Joy
Agent For
Winsor &
Artists Colours
& Materials

Traces of an earlier painted sign emerge here and there but I can't make anything out of the few letters I deciphered.

Location: Uxbridge Road / Picture taken on: 19/07/2008

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Royal Coffee & Dining Rooms, Holloway

Such a grand name! Such a large ghost sign! But, sadly, these coffee and dining rooms don't seem to have left much of a trace, at least online.

Coffe & Dining Hillyard's Rooms
The Royal
Coffee & Dining

Location: Holloway Road / Picture taken on: 14/08/2008

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Byrrh, Saintes

That will be a double Byrrh! This is the second ghost sign for this aperitif made of dry wines from Languedoc-Roussillon, mistelles, and cinchona I came across in Saintes (for the other one, and more information about Byrrh, click here. For a better-preserved example, spotted in Cognac, click here).
Why two adverts for the same product on the same wall? There were two advantages to this: firstly the repetition had a greater impact on the passing public, and secondly it prevented Byrrh's competitors from advertising their drinks next to it. Indeed there was always the risk that a competitor's sign would be more eye-catching, although in that case the white letters on red background were certainly unmissable.

Vin Tonique
Vin apéritif au quinquina

Note the last line was written across the lower part of the second "Byrrh."
It looks as if the upper Byrrh ghost sign could have been painted on two occasions.

As for the lower one, it was covered at some point by another advert.

Some letter can still be deciphered here and there but not enough to make any sense of it:

Location: Rue Saint-Eutrope, Saintes, Charente-Maritime / Pictures taken on: 29/01/2011

Friday, 8 July 2011

Furlongs, Woolwich

Furlong has been a familiar name in Woolwich since the early 19th century. Indeed, over the years, the Furlongs have been running many businesses, essentially in Powis Street. William Archdeacon's Greenwich & Woolwich directory for 1852 shows John and James Furlong working as auctioneers, house and estate agents, valuers and undertakers, cabinetmakers, and agents to the General Fire and Life Office.
The venture into the car business only began in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The website of Furlongs (motor engineer) Ltd claims "Yup, Still here after 60 years..." This is supported by a few lines in the 26 March 1952 issue of Motor in which one could read that Furlongs Ltd carried out repairs and sold spares for all models of cars, and that they also specialised in caravan chassis, axle, legs, and tow bracketts. The 1950s were certainly good years for Furlongs. The economy was growing and the number of cars on the roads was increasing steadily. As a result, the journal The Autocar could write in 1957 that
Mr. C. H. Singer has been appointed general manager of Furlongs, Ltd, 160, Powis Street, Woolwich, London, S.E. 18. He was formerly sales manager of University Motors, Ltd. At the present time Furlongs, who are Rover main agents, are building considerable extensions to their premises.
A picture taken c. 1965 shows Furlongs' showrooms on Powis Street. These are long gone and other businesses occupy the premises on Powis Street. However Furlongs retained the buildings at the back, between Powis Street and Woolwich High Street, which they use as off-street car parks. Nowadays the only cars sold by Furlongs are second-hand ones. Together with servicing, MOT, and car wash, it constitutes its core business.

& Callers
To Thoroughfare

Spares Petrol
Shop & Exit

Location: Woolwich High Street / Pictures taken on: 13/05/2011

Thursday, 7 July 2011

K & M Larn, Tufnell Park

In the late 19th and early 20th century women of Tufnell Park and around could acquire a whole range of clothes, accessories, and cloth at K. & M. Larn's.

K. & M. Larn
Fancy Work
Maids' Dresses
Caps & Aprons

At the time, flannels would have been made exclusively of carded wool or worsted yarn. The great demand for this kind of cloth led to the creation of flannelettes, made of napped cotton. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica the word appeared in the 1880s. Although the texture was similar, at equivalent prices, flannelettes were usually of better quality than flannels.

Location: York Rise / Picture taken on: 14/08/2009

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Karbosan, Oerlikon and Teka, Istanbul

This must be Istanbul's most photographed ghost sign as it appears pretty much on any picture taken from the Galata Bridge of the Galata Tower rising above the Golden Horn. Yet in spite of its prime location few people may notice it because there is so much around to distract one's attention.

Additionally the fact that the name of one of the companies advertised there is written sideways doesn't help.

Oerlikon [written sideways]

Founded in 1967, Karbosan is a Turkish manufacturer of abrasive products.
As for Oerlikon, it is a Swiss corporation whose origins go back to 1907, the year the Schweizerische Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon (Swiss Power Tool Factory Oerlikon) opened in Zürich-Oerlikon. In 1937 it was bought by German industrialist Emil Georg Bührle and its name became Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon-Bührle & Co (Power Tool Factory Oerlikon-Bührle). In 1964 it was shortened to Oerlikon-Bührle. In the 1960s and 1970s the company diversified its production and portfolio by purchasing several companies involved in a wide range of sectors, from shoes and textile to hotels and real estate. By 1973 the group was composed of more than 100 companies. That year it went public and began trading as Oerlikon-Bührle Holding AG. However the group was restructured in the late 1990s after the military equipment branch incurred heavy losses in the late 1980s and 1990s. Under-performing and loss-making branches were sold off, including Bally Shoe (which it had bought in 1977), Oerlikon Contraves (armaments), Pilatus Aircraft, Britten-Norman Aircraft, as well as those involved in hotels and real estate. From then on the group concentrated essentially on new technologies. In order to reflect this major development the name was changed to Unaxis in 2000. In 2005 the Austrian Victory Industriebeteiligung AG acquired a majority of shares and one year later the name was changed to OC Oerlikon to reflect its origins.
The sign must date from the time of Oerlikon-Bührle Holding AG.

For several years these painted signs were hidden behind a large billboard advertising Teka's kitchen appliances. It was removed only recently.

As one crosses the Galata Bridge and approaches the northern shore of the Golden Horn, it appears the eastern side of this building is also covered with ghost signs.

However one has to cross the bridge and walk along Tersane Caddesi to get a better view and realise what a palimpsest this wall is.

...ayman elktrod..r

The Teka group specializes in domestic and professional equipment for the kitchen and bathroom, as well as stainless steel storage containers and electronics. The company was founded in 1957, although its origins can be traced back to the forge that operated in the 1920s in the village of Haiger-Sechshelden in Hessen. Teka was one of the first companies to use stainless steel to make sinks. Over the years it expanded its presence abroad and in 1990 opened an office in Istanbul.

My guess is that the different companies whose names appear on this building - Oerlikon, Kabosan and Teka, in chronological order - all had at some point their offices in this block.

As for the building itself, if it offers great opportunities in terms of advertising, working in it must be frustrating: in spite of its excellent location, its occupants can't enjoy the absolutely amazing view over the Golden Horn and, beyond, the historic centre of Istanbul. Instead their only windows face north and overlook a busy thouroughfare. Maybe whoever built this block didn't want office workers to be distracted?

Location: Tersane Caddesi, Beyoğlu, Istanbul / Pictures taken on: 17/06/2011

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Rochester Co-operative Society, Rochester

Founded in 1884, the Rochester Co-operative Society beginnings were humble. There is very little information about this particular component of the co-operative movement but the few documents available suggest it amalgated with other societies and changed its name accordingly. By the mid-1900s it had evolved into the Rochester and District Co-operative Society, before becoming in the early 1920s the Rochester and District Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd.
In the mid-1920s the co-operative owned several oulets located at 21-27 and 33 High Street. Some of these were demolished and in 1928 a brand new department store was inaugurated. There, by the main entrance, the Co-operative proudly displayed its logo on a doorstep mosaic.


If the logo incorporated only the initials of the original co-operative society, its full name -Rochester and District Co-operative and Industrial Society Ltd- stretched along the façade as a picture taken c. 1955 shows.

Location: High Street, Rochester, Kent / Picture taken on: 26/06/2011

Update on Capons

I've added some information about Capon, the butcher from Rochester, and two links to pictures taken c. 1955.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Player's please, Homerton

In 1924 George Green, advertising manager at John Player & Son Ltd, came up with the slogan "Player's Will Please You", replaced later by "They're Player's and They Please." By the early 1930s Green shortened these rather ordinary slogans and launched the highly successful "Player's Please!" Not only this was short and catchy, but it could take two different meanings, depending on whether "please" was understood as a verb or an adverb. Indeed it could either suggest, as with the earlier versions, that Player's cigarettes would give the smoker pleasure (as well as bad breath and a few health problems including cancer) or it could be what a customer would say to a tobacconist. Additionally by using such a common sentence Green could appeal to virtually everybody (*). Thus this inclusive slogan, together with the familiar image of the Royal Navy sailor Hero, explained to a large extent the success of Player over its competitors during the interwar period and immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

*: however Player's cigarettes appealed more to middle-class southern England and never really conquered the north of Britain, where working classes preferred the Woodbine.


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

Friday, 1 July 2011

Ferretería El Molino, Havana

This large house in the centre of Havana was built in 1887 for one of the city's wealthy families. Living quarters were found on the first floor while the ground floor was rented out to different businesses. One of these was the ferretería, or ironmonger's shop, "El Molino" ("The Mill"), which at some point in the first quarter of the 20th century became a limited company under the name "Ferretería Molinos S. A."
The ferretería and the other shops closed a long time ago and in 1986 the Casa Museo de África opened within its walls.

Ferretería "Molinos S. A."
FerreteríaEl Molino

Like many buildings in the historic centre of the Cuban capital, this house was wonderfully restored a few years ago by the Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana, the institution in charge of the capital's heritage. In the process, some of the names of the shops that occupied the ground floor and adverts for the products they sold were uncovered and a team of specialists in preservation and restoration of mural paintings from the Oficina's Empresa de Restauración de Monumentos was called in.
There is some debate about whether ghost signs should be restored to their original design, preserved in their current state or left to fade away. In Cuba the authorities seem to have chosen not to restore them but to keep them in the state they are in when the building they are painted on is being restored. Thus only the treatment necessary to prevent further damage is normally applied.

The picture below has been created by stitching two photos.

Location: Calle Obrapía, Havana / Pictures taken on: 03/04/2010