Thursday, 31 May 2012

Knitting wools, Exeter

I first noticed this ghost sign from the train as it was leaving Exeter St Thomas. A couple of days later I went back to take some pictures. Unfortunately it is largely obscured by the building next door.

The Warehouse For
Knitting Wools

There is no information online about this store. The design of this ghost sign could suggest it was painted in the 1950s or early 1960s.

On the picture below I brightened the part in the shadow. The result is not perfect -by then it was drizzling quite a bit- but it gives an idea of what the ghost sign looks like.

Location: Cowick Street, Exeter, Devon / Picture taken in April 2012

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Eastmans, Exeter

Since the butchery firm Eastmans Ltd had hundreds of outlets across the country, I was bound to find another of their doorstep mosaics after the one in Exmouth. Indeed a couple of days later, I noticed this one in Exeter.
The post about the Exmouth mosaic includes a couple of paragraphs about Eastmans.

Location: Cowick Street, Exeter, Devon / Picture taken in April 2012

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The West of England, Exeter

Initially called the West of England Institute for the Instruction and Employment of the Blind, the West of England School was founded on 28th April 1838 by a group of people led by Sarah Friend to improve the life of Exeter's blind population. The school moved to St David's Hill in 1843, after a Mrs Wilkinson donated a house outside the city walls, and stayed there until 1965. That year the school moved to new premises in Countess Wear, outside Exeter, where it still caters for blind and partially sighted pupils aged between 2 and 19+. The website of the school's association includes a page about its history.

The West of England

Founded 1839 Enlarged 1855

Only part of the ghost sign has survived. The image printed in 1881 shows "Institution for the Blind" appeared on the central part of the building. This has now completely disappeared.

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

Friday, 25 May 2012

Manor Theatre, Exmouth

The Manor Theatre, in the seaside town of Exmouth, Devon, was built in the 1920s or 1930s (the decade varies according to the source) by C. H. Palmer. Originally this was an entertainment venue with a programme of dances, lectures and other kinds of social events. However the venture did not make enough money and the building was later converted into Exmouth's fourth cinema. Was it then that the name changed to Regal Cinema?
In the 1950s the cinema closed down and one part the building was transformed into a dance hall while another one later became a ten pin bowling alley. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the ballroom was taken over by Deneys, who in 1973, transformed the whole building into a nightclub. In 1978 Alan Clarke joined the club as DJ before becoming manager and rebranding it as Samantha's. Under his leadership the nightclub became a popular venue in South West England. However in late 2008 Samantha's closed down and plans were drawn to convert the building into 14 flats. Although these plans were supported in principle, they were put on hold in 2009 because of lack of adequate parking provisions. Three years later the situation has not changed. This means the ghost signs found on the walls of the building, which may well disappear when work gets underway, are still with us for a bit longer.

Half of the original name of the venue still appears on the façade


'Theatre' would have been painted under the arch shown on the picture below but that has completely disappeared. At least two ghost signs appear on the side wall though.

One sign, largely obstructed, was painted horizontally. It reads

Another sign was painted vertically but the letter 'R' is the only one that can be seen properly.

In order to find complete ghost signs, it is necessary to go to Manor Gardens and to look at the back of the building.

Manor Theatre


This last ghost sign must be the most recent one, certainly dating from the 1950s, when the cinema was converted into a ballroom.

Location: St Andrews Road, Exmouth, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Chemists, Sidmouth

This simple but elegant mosaic has been preserved even though the store is no longer a pharmacy. Several volumes of the Yearbook of Pharmacy published during the last three decades of the 19th century mention Mr R. Chessal, chemist, of Fore Street but in the absence of a house number, it isn't possible to be absolutely sure whether this mosaic greeted his customers. Yet since Fore Street isn't too long, that may well be possible.

Location: Fore Street, Sidmouth, Devon / Picture taken in April 2012

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Gliddons, Sidmouth

Gliddons toy shop in the charming seaside resort of Sidmouth on the Jurassic Coast has been attracting children for decades. I haven't found any precise information about this store but it seems Gliddons was already sellings toys, games and other goods for children in the early 20th century.


Location: Church Street, Sidmouth, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Limited, Exeter

The name of the company that owned the North Warehouse in Exeter was once painted on the outside wall. Yet contrary to the brick store on the opposite bank, where W. Hibberd & Co can still be read, there the ghost sign has faded too much to be legible.

The North Warehouse was built in the mid-19th century. It stands between the River Exe (on the pictures) and Exeter's Canal Basin and opens onto the latter. The basin opened in 1830, five years after work on the extension and widening of the Exeter Canal was completed.

In 1969 Exeter's Maritime Museum opened in the North Warehouse and the adjacent building but it closed down in 1997.


Unfortunately I haven't found any information about the previous occupiers of the building.

... Limited

Location: Haven Banks, Exeter, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Monday, 21 May 2012

W. Hibberd, Exeter

Any visit to Exeter wouldn't be complete without a stroll along the River Exe to discover the historic buildings of the Quay. One of these is the open-sided transit shed, a cast iron building erected c 1820 to provide undercover storage to the goods offloaded from the ships docked alongside Exeter Quay. In 1878 a brick building was added at the northern end of the open shed.

The open shed with the 1878 brick store. To the left is the 1860-61 Customs House.

The brick store was built at the instigation of wine merchant Samuel Jones but by the early 20th century it was being used by William Hibberd & Co., wholesale grocers of 38 Queen Street, whose name can still be seen on the wall facing the city. Very faint traces of paint suggest it was also painted on the side of the building towards the river but it isn't possible to read anything.

W. Hibberd & Co. Wholesale Grocers

William Hibberd & Co. was still trading in 1933, the year the company reduced its capital but I haven't found what happened to it after that date.

W. Hibberd & Co.

'Co.' and the first letters of 'Wholesale' are hidden when the sliding doors of the Antique Centre, which moved in in 1986, are open.

Wholesale Grocers

Location: The Quay, Exeter, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Friday, 4 May 2012

Wellpark brewery ales, Exmouth

High above a narrow street, and almost opposite a church, this small but lovely ghost sign invited the patrons of a pub (certainly the Criterion) to sample Wellpark Brewery ales.

While some pubs of the seaside town of Exmouth in Devon offer locally brewed beers and ciders, these ales came from Glasgow, hundreds of miles away. The origins of the Wellpark Brewery go back to 1740, when Hugh and Robert Tennent opened a brewery at Drygate Bridge in Glasgow. Five decades later, as demand for their souts and ales increased, the Tennents bought William McLehose's brewery and the land surrounding it to build a larger brewery. The site was then renamed Wellpark. For more information about the Wellpark Brewery, click here.


The quality of the writing on this ghost sign is quite remarkable and it is nicely complemented by the floral decoration on the bottom right corner. To appreciate these, click on the pictures below to see an enlarged version.

Location: Tower Street, Exmouth, Devon ' Pictures taken in April 2012

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Major & Sons, Tiverton

The store may have changed hands but the lovely mosaic laid for Major & Sons still welcome customers. Nowadays they sell electrical appliances there but I have no idea what was on offer back then.

Location: Bridge Street, Tiverton, Devon / Picture taken in April 2012

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Orcombe Point service, Exmouth

The red sandstone and mudstone rocks of Orcombe Point rise three kilometres southeast of Exmouth. They mark the beginning of the Jurassic Coast, which stretches for over 150 km to Old Harry Rocks on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. With its amazing views -on clear days- Orcombe Point has long attracted visitors and although the walk along the coast from Exmouth is pleasant, ending with a very gentle climb, some preferred to make the journey by bus.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s many visitors would have arrived in Exmouth by train and would have noticed this ghost sign inviting them to join the service operated by Millers Tours. Painted on a red brick façade, its yellow background certainly made it stand out.
Even though the lower part of the sign has been painted over (possibly after another company took over from Millers), it is still possible to decipher what was written, with the exception of the last line which is too damaged to recognise anything but a couple of letters.

Starts From Here
Booking Office
For Millers
... [Excursions?]

Unfortunately a very flashy modern sign for one of these ghastly amusement arcades that all too often spoil English seaside towns has been placed right in the middle of this ghost sign.

Location: Imperial Road, Exmouth, Devon / Pictures taken in April 2012

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Coachbuilder, Exmouth

As if the tree didn't make it difficult enough, this wall is a real palimpsest, with many letters covering each other. Thus it is virtually impossible to decipher these ghost signs.

One of the names on the upper part seems to have been written twice but I can only make out a couple of letters. Below are the only words I managed to identify. The first one is


Then in the middle, in dark letters with a projecting yellow shadow, is


which was written over part of an earlier sign, in black letters with a projecting red shadow, saying


(of course, as the final letters are hidden by the tree, it could be "Coachbuilding")

Finally, on the bottom line, one of the ghost signs included the word


More letters can be deciphered here and there but not enough to make out words.

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