Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Continental garage, St Giles

While abroad, many travellers look for places where their mother tongue is spoken and the French who came to London during the first decades of the 20th century were certainly no different. That's why many of them would have stayed in and around Soho, home until the 1920s to a large French community, and at places like the Hotel de Boulogne. It was undoubtedly to attract these visitors, or at least those wealthy enough to rent a car, that the Continental Garage and its successor the Prince's Garage included a few French words on their painted advert.

The upper part of this ghost sign overlooking the churchyard of St Giles in the Fields is dominated by the names of the two garages successively advertised there:
Continental Garage
which was replaced by
Prince's
Garage

The lower part of the sign may have been painted for Continental Garage but was kept when Prince's Garage took over:
Open Day
&
Night
Cars on HireOuvert
Jour et nuit

Although there are only two garage names, it is possible this wall was painted on more than two occasions as letters can be seen here and there. However I have not managed to decipher what else was written, apart from what could be the name of the sign writer. Indeed in the upper left hand corner, written in small letters, one can read:
R. Sandland
Opposite

Next to the French part of the text is an elaborate manicule, for once in colour.


This is not the only ghost sign in London where part of the text is in French. The 2 Little Crown one is another fine example.

Location: St Giles High Street / Pictures taken in March 2008