Monday, 30 April 2012

Tiverton museum

St Andrew Street is a rather narrow thoroughfare but this is where the only ghost sign I noticed in the Mid-Devon town of Tiverton can be seen. Actually it is not a proper ghost sign as the museum it invites people to visit is still open to the public, albeit not on Sundays (which was exactly when we were there).

Tiverton museum opened in 1960 and moved in its present premises in 1967. Using different colours and typefaces, the sign lists some of the collections on display. Surprisingly there is a spelling mistake, which was never corrected.

50 Yards on Left
Open Daily 10.30 to 4.30
Local History . Costumes
Transport . Clocks
Village Smithy
Victorain [sic] Laundry
... ... ...emonts
Local Industries & Crafts
Grand Western Canal
Railway Gallery
With G.W.R. Loco.

Since the gallery for the Great Western Railway 0-4-2T No. 1422 was only built in 1979, one can assume this sign was painted either in time for the opening or at a later date, possibly in 1985 (see below).

A second sign on the façade of this derelict building shows the crest of Tiverton.

The crest, with the Latin sentence Sigilium oppidi de Tyverton (Seal of the Town of Tiverton), represents in its upper part the church of St Peter and the motte-and-bailey castle. Below the town is shown with the two bridges spanning the River Exe and the River Lowman that replaced the two fords which gave Tiverton its name (originally it was Twyfordton, meaning "The town of two fords"). Underneath the town houses a woolsack is a reminder of the importance of the woolen industry to the area.
This sign was painted in 1985, while Ron Turner was Mayor.

Why were these signs painted there? Their visibility is poor. The street is narrow and, as it is winding, the building cannot be seen from the main thoroughfare, Fore Street. The building certainly belongs to the municipality (it appears to be connected to other municipal offices) thus consent for painting these signs was certainly easy to obtain. I cannot find any other explanation.

No ghost sign at the museum itself but a mural representing its largest exhibit, GWR locomotive 1442, nicknamed the "Tivvy Bumper." Locomotives of the 1400 class could be seen pulling trains between Tiverton and Tiverton Junction, where passengers would change for the mainline services to Bristol, London and other destinations.

On the mural, painted by D. G. Weatherley in 1995, the train is at a typical West Country halt consisting of a short platform and a wooden shelter. However it cannot be Halberton Halt, the only stop between Tiverton and Tiverton Junction, since the shelter there was located under a bridge.

Location: St Andrew Street, Tiverton, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Taverner's dairy, Exeter

Approaching the centre of Exeter from the north, one can hardly miss this nice, colourful palimpsest for two former dairies: Taverner's, which was later replaced by Holwill's.

These dairies were certainly outlets for the milk produced at Taverner's Farm and Holwill's Farm. However while the former is located in Kennford, a few kilometres to the south west of Exeter, the latter is in Torrington, much further north.

Taverner's / Holwill's

Location: St David's Hill, Exeter, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Manufacturers, Exeter

Just off Fore Street in Exeter is a barely visible ghost sign for an unknown manufacturer of uncertain goods. & Sons
.rake Manufacturers

Were they making brakes in this workshop? Or maybe just rakes? Over the years the building at the corner of Fore Street and Friernhay Street saw many different uses, from pub to store, and I have not found any information that could match what is left on the wall. Maybe someone will solve this mystery?

Location: Friernhay Street, Exeter, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Eastmans, Exmouth

Like many British towns, Exmouth once had a branch of butchery firm Eastmans Ltd. The company was formed in 1889, when John Bell & Son Ltd, a firm of Glaswegian origins founded in 1827 with more than 350 shops and stalls around the UK, acquired the cattle and shipping businesses of Timothy C. and Joseph Eastman of New York. This was a classical example of vertical expansion: production, transport and retail came to be controlled by a single company. Although it took the name of Eastmans Ltd, there was no Eastman on the board. By 1900 there were more than 400 Eastmans butcher shops and by 1912 the number had increased to more than 1,400, making the company second only to James Nelson & Sons Ltd, who controlled more than 1,500 outlets. During the 1890s Eastmans sold essentially US meat but in 1900 it sold its interests in the US and started importing meat from Argentina, Uruguay, Australia and New Zealand among others.
During the First World War many shops -up to 500- had to close because of the call up of staff and shortages of meat. Eastmans's case was not unique and the situation of multiple shop firms deteriorated to the extent that by the late 1910s-early 1920s their future was uncertain. This led to a wave of amalgations. In 1923 the Union Cold Storage Company Ltd bought Eastmans Ltd as well as its competitors the British and Argentine Meat Company Ltd, W. &. R. Fletcher Ltd and the Argenta Meat Company Ltd. The Union Cold Storage Company Ltd had been founded in the 1890s in Liverpool by the controversial Vestey brothers, William and Edmund. The names of the different shops, including Eastmans, were kept but in the 1960, in order to establish a strong national brand, most were renamed J.H. Dewhurst, after a small chain of butcher shops the Vesteys had acquired in the early 1920s. The initials were later dropped and in 1980 the shops started trading as Dewhurst the Master Butcher. However competition from supermarkets and the recession of the early 1990s led to a dramatic decline in the number of shops (from 1,700 in 1977 to 300 in the mid-1990s) and in the profitability of many outlets. In 1996 after incurring losses of £33 millions in six months, the company at the core of the Vestey empire Union International was placed into administrative receivership. The Dewhurst shops survived for another 10 years but eventually closed down in 2006.

Location: Exeter Road, Exmouth, Devon / Picture taken in April 2012

Monday, 23 April 2012

Royal Society for the Blind, Exeter

For a few days I was unable to connect but the problem seems to have been sorted and I am now ready to resume work and head towards the 1000th post. This benchmark may still be far away but I should have enough pictures to make it, starting with a whole series of ghost signs and mosaics spotted in southeast Devon during the Easter weekend.

This series, which will include some real gems, starts behind Exeter Cathedral with this ghost sign for the Royal Society for the Blind. In spite of its grand name, there is virtually nothing about this charity on the web. There are different regional organisations by this name but the name of the town or city they are based in is usually attached to them. However it seems Exeter did not have 'its own' charity for the blind and support and services in the area were provided by the Bristol Royal Society for the Blind. Founded in 1793, it became after more than 200 years part of the Royal National Institute for Blind People.

Royal Society
For the

Although it is quite small, the signature of the sign writer is clearly visible.

Bush Signs

Location: Palace Gate, Exeter, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Issacoulian, Istanbul

Since this is my 500th post, I thought I should present a rather special ghost sign. Thus, like for the second anniversary of this blog, I take you to Istanbul for another multi-lingual sign.

Painted on a 19th century building near the Spice Bazaar, this ghost sign promoted the business of tea merchant Issacoulian. It is written in Ottoman Turkish (using the Perso-Arabic script), Turkish using the Armenian script, and French. It certainly dates from the final decades of the Ottoman empire. At the time, French was the international language par excellence and was often spoken to overcome the language barrier between the many communities living in Constantinople. Relatively few people would have been able to read the part in Ottoman Turkish, which was used essentially for administrative and literary purposes by the elite of the empire. Its presence may suggest Issacoulian dealt with well-educated people. The majority of the Turkish population rather used the Armenian script, which was easier to read and write.
Unfortunately I have no information about Issacoulian and his business. The name would suggest he was a member of the Armenian community. Between the last decade of the 19th century and the beginning of the First World War, around 160,000 Armenians lived in Constantinople.

The upper part, written in Turkish Ottoman.

Immeditely below is the part of the sign in Turkish using the Armenian script.

ԹԷՅ [Tea]

Converted into Latin ortography, the name would read as "Isagoilean" but common spellings include among others Isagulyan, Issagolhian, Issagoulian and, as in the part of the ghost sign written in French, Issacoulian.

Thé [Tea]

There may have been a fourth script but the lower part of the sign is too damaged to be able to decipher anything.

Location: corner Sultan Hamami Caddesi with Vakif Hani Sokak, Eminönü, Istanbul / Pictures taken in June 2011

Monday, 16 April 2012

H. P. Moore, Greenwich

This shop may no longer be selling cloth and clothes to the ladies of Greenwich but the memory of H. P. Moore's store lives on thanks to this nicely written ghost sign. Prior to Moore, the business belonged to C. M. Barrett.

Underclothing, Corsets,
Blouses, Hosiery,
H. P. MooreLate
C. M. Barrett
Calicoes, Linens,
Curtains, Flannelettes & ... [Silk?]

After K & M Larn of Tufnell Park, this is another example of a shop selling flannelettes, the cheaper alternative to flannels.

Location: Humber Road / Pictures taken in May 2011

Friday, 13 April 2012

Wagenbau-Anstalt, Dresden

Until the 1990s, many ghost signs could be seen along the streets of the Äussere Neustadt neighbourhood of Dresden, usually by or above the doorways of buildings erected during the second half of the 19th century or the early 20th century. Unfortunately many disappeared when, following the reunification of Germany, many buildings were either restored or demolished. One exception is the ghost sign for Theodor Richter, which still spans the entrance of his former carriage works. The building dates from 1895 and given the style of the sign I would assume Richter moved there immediately or soon afterwards. I haven't any information about this company though.

The books of the series Aus der Geschichte eines Dresdner Stadtteils, about the history, social and cultural life, and economy of the different districts of Dresden (16 volumes so far), include some pictures of ghost signs taken in the 1990s and early 2000s, many of which have now disappeared. Each volume is well-illustrated, and looking at the old black and white pictures, one rapidly realizes that parts of the town were absolutely covered with painted signs.

Wagenbau-Anstalt von Theodor Richter
[Theodor Richter's Carriage Works]

Location: Böhmische Straße, Dresden, Sachsen / Pictures taken in December 2009

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Cole, Tottenham

Visible from far away, this gable seems to have three ghost signs painted on it, but only one is still complete.

Two ghost signs promoted Cole's business. The original version almost completely disappeared when the new one was painted. Only the name
is still visible, at the same level as "Hair."
On the second, more elaborate version of Cole's sign, the letters project a red shadow. It reads

Finally, two additional lines can still be read but they appear unconnected:
Naturals ... [& ?]
Dealer in
Glass Shades

These can be seen more clearly on the picture below.

Location: High Road / Pictures taken in June 2008

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Norville, Gloucester

Based in Gloucester, Norville was founded more than a century ago. Since then the exterior of the practice seems to have changed relatively little. The façade still displays the lovely Edwardian fascia and a simple but effective painted sign can be seen on the side of the building. In spite of changes introduced over the years to telephone numbering, this sign was left untouched. Nowadays there are several Norville optician practices around Gloucestershire and in the Bristol area but I doubt they are as attractive as the original one.

Telephone 22033

Location: Eastgate Street, Gloucester, Gloucestershire / Pictures taken in July 2010

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Haig whisky, Camberwell

The story of Haig whisky goes back to 1627, the year Robert Haig set up a distillery near Stirling. But this was just the beginning. The story, together with lots of information about how scotch whisky is made, is told in the promotional documentary "Scotch by Haig," shot in 1979.

This prominent ghost sign near Camberwell Green features the famous rhyming slogan for the brand.

Don't Be Vague
Ask For
The Oldest Scotch Whisky
Distillers in the World

Nowadays the central part of this ghost sign is white but I can't imagine it was originally like that. Small traces of the same blue paint used for the last two lines can be seen here and there but not enough to give us a clue. Could there have been a bottle of Gold Label and one of Dimple?

Ask For

The Oldest Scotch Whisky
Distillers in the World

Location: Milkwell Yard / Pictures taken in April 2008

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Austin's Library, Petersfield

As mentioned in an earlier post about the ironmonger F. A. Allsworth, until the late 1950s Lavant Street was one of Petersfield's main shopping streets. Originally, near the junction with Chapel Street, one could find Llewellyn Eley Bradley's shop. Although according to an article in Petersfield Life he was a jeweller, this is certainly wrong. Indeed other sources and a picture in the collection of Petersfield Museum indicate he sold books, stationery items and a whole range of fancy goods, including toys. Actually one of the toys in Bradley's shop was most certainly the inspiration for Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Moray Williams. The author of this classic book for children, published in 1938, was born in Petersfield and spent her youth in the Hampshire town. An article in Portsmouth News about that link also includes a copy of the picture of Bradley's shop mentioned above.
As for Llewellyn Bradley, who was born in 1877, he is also remembered for his photographs of Petersfield, several of which were printed as postcards. I have not found what happened to Bradley over time but it appears he sold his business in the early 1930s (possibly earlier). Indeed according to the 1933 edition of The British Book Trade Directory, Austin's Library was trading in lieu of Bradley's. Austin's Library appears on a picture of Lavant Street taken c. 1955 (the first shop on the left) but what happened to it after that date is unknown to me.

The ghost sign, which promoted both businesses, is found round the corner from the shop itself and would have been seen by people coming from the town centre and heading towards the shops of Lavant Street and Chapel Street or going towards the train station at the end of Lavant Street. Since both offered essentially the same services and goods, all that was needed when Austin's Library took over from Bradley's was to change the name on the first line.

Llewelynn Bradley / Austin's
Stationer, Newsagent
Books, Toys & Fancy Goods
-- Library --

Location: Chapel Street, Petersfield, Hampshire / Picture taken in September 2011

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Builders, Earl's Court

Thanks to a hoarding, part of the side wall of this building avoided the brown-ish paint. When it was was removed, part of a ghost sign emerged.
Enough can still be read to identify the different trades advertised there.


The first, second and fourth lines were written twice, using a different typeface.

Location: Earls Court Road / Pictures taken in February 2008

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mondial Oil, Cognac

Lubricating oils, greases and other by-products manufacturer and importer Mondial-Oil was founded on 14th March 1929. The forerunners of this French company were the Etablissements A. Moruchon et A. Dumet, fom La Rochelle. In spite of the global pretence of its name, Mondial-Oil operated essentially in southwest France. The refinery was located in La Pallice, just outside La Rochelle. From there lubricants were dispatched to depots in Bordeaux and Nantes. The company also had an office in Paris, where it was registered, although it seemed to have been run from the Bordeaux offices on Quai Deschamps.
There is very little information available about Mondial-Oil (quite frustrating really). By the late 1950s the company was seeking a licensing agreement with a US firm for manufacture in France of a US line of lubricants and by-products. I have not found whether Mondial Oil was successful in its search nor what happened to it after 1962, when the name appeared in a publication of the US Department of Trade.

Marque déposée
L'assurance du moteur
huiles et graisses
En vente ici
<--- Garage G. Poulon ...

[Registered Trademark
The Motor's Insurance
Lubricating Oils and Greases
Available Here At
<--- Garage G. Poulon ...

Most of this ghost sign used to be covered by a hoarding. This explains its good state of preservation. Unfortunately the part that was not hidden has badly faded, including the French cockerel that stood on the globe. Only its feet are still visible nowadays. You can get an idea of what it would originally have looked like by checking this enamel plate.

Another ghost sign was originally painted on this wall. A few letters can still be seen here and there but not enough to identify the product or company it advertised.

However the name of the advertising agency responsible for this wall is still visible in the lower right-hand corner.

F. Lafond

Location: Rue Claude Boucher, Cognac, Charente / Picture taken in June 2010 and January 2011