Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Gilbert, Holloway

I couldn't find any information about Gilbert, so what the firm imported is a mystery so far.

2 Hercules Place, N.7.

Location: Hercules Place / Picture taken in April 2011

Monday, 30 July 2012

Brymay, Fulham

This is undoubtedly one of the most colourful ghost signs for Brymay matches I have come across.

After importing Swedish matches for eighteen years, Bryant & May opened their first factory in 1861 in Bow. The site became famous in July 1888, when 1,400 women and teenage girls working there went on strike following the unfair dismissal of one them. If that was the spark that ignited the struggle, the protest was about poor working conditions, and in particular long hours with very few short breaks, heavy fines often handed to workers by foremen, and poor health resulting from exposure to white phosphorus. The matchgirls received the support of many socialists, including women's rights activist Annie Besant, who addressed the crowds on several occasions. Ultimately after more than two weeks, the management of the company agreed to meet most of the demands of the strikers.
Production of matches continued in Bow until it was transferred to Liverpool in 1979.

For British Home

Although it is no longer visible, we can assume the first part of Brymay's slogan, "British Matches", was originally painted above "For British Homes."

Location: Lillie Road / Picture taken in May 2008

Friday, 27 July 2012

Pickfords, Rochester

Tucked away in a narrow street, this ghost sign is barely visible from Eastgate, Rochester's main thoroughfare. It was painted on what was certainly used as a depository.

The origins of removal company Pickfords go back to the mid-17th century. Founded by thomas Pickford, it remained in family hands until 1814, when the Pickfords, on the verge of bankruptcy, were forced to sell it. Its new owners expanded it, increasing its presence throughout most of the country. In 1933 Pickfords passed under control of the "big four" railway companies and in 1947 was nationalised alongside them. The Thatcher government privatised it in 1982. For much more information about Pickfords, please visit their website, which includes a history of the company.

Local Office
24 Railway St.

This address appears in a list of Pickfords Travel Branches published in 1977 in the Observer. There is no indication though when they moved in or out of these premises.

Location: Eastgate Terrace, Rochester, Kent / Pictures taken in June 2011

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Fruiterer, Croydon

Unfortunately I haven't found any information about this property that would help to fill the gaps in this palimpsest.

There are clearly two ghost signs on this wall but only one visible name and I cannot decide to which sign it goes with. This name is

D. Cur... [Cure? Curt?]

The main body of the first ghost sign reads

& Potato Merc

This part is slightly puzzling. Indeed 'Merc' would be an odd abbreviation for 'Merchant' and it looks as if there is half a 'H' after the 'C'. Did the wall extend further to the right? If that was the case, then the full name may have been 'Curtis.' However the building doesn't show any obvious trace of reconstruction.

With regards to the other ghost sign, all it says now is

And at
Coombe Park

Location: Church Road / Picture taken in August 2009

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hodgin's depository, Fulham

To begin the fourth year of this blog, here is a ghost sign I discovered by pure chance last week while walking though the streets of Fulham.

I was passing along North End Road when I saw what, from far away, looked like some very faint text on a wall at the end of one of the perpendicular streets. Unfortunately there was nothing but instead of tracing my steps back I strolled through the little streets, turning left then right, and so on until I bumped into this building...

... and on the side was a large ghost sign!

For Storing
At Lowest Prices
Carpet Dealer.
Estimates Free.
Phone 1710 KEN.

Given the size of the building, I wonder how many motorcars could have been stored there?

"Hodgin's Depository" doesn't seem to have been painted at the same time as the rest of this ghost sign.

I also doubt the storage of different kinds of goods and the sale of carpets went hand in hand. Thus we may well have two ghost signs here rather than just one. Differences in style seem to support this.

Location: Chesson Road / Pictures taken in July 2012

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Anniversary quiz

Today's marks the third anniversary of this blog. It started with two local ghost signs for Peterkin's Custard near Clapham Junction, and Flins and Sons in Putney. The first anniversary was celebrated with a lovely ghost sign painted most certainly during the first quarter of the 19th century for one of Bath's Circulating Librairies. Then for the second anniversary I posted quite an extraordinary ghost sign for A. Loucrezis's furniture factory in Istanbul, written in Ottoman Turkish (using the Armenian script), Greek and French.

Today, as you can see, the picture is made of letters from several ghost signs (click to enlarge). Can you recognise some of them? To help you, here are some clues:

T: this ghost sign features a striking royal animal.
H: the same animal gave its name to this venue near a ford across a tautological river.
R: they milked together the London area, Wiltshire, and the West Country, among others.
E: this ghost sign made cutting this letter safe.
E: any relation to Sir Patrick or Sir Roger?
Y: "this is the last letter of a striking name, isn't it girls?" said Annie.
E: this letter is so well preserved one would suspect there are several cheap coats on this ghost sign.
A: it was British throughout at this merchant's, so no triangular trade there in spite of the name!
R: even without Sullivan he found a place for Hercules.
S: even extinct and confined to heraldry these hunting dogs do not lack bottle.

No prize, just fun!

Click here for the answers

Monday, 23 July 2012

P. Devèze, Blaye

To conclude this series of French ghost signs spotted one day as we followed the northern bank of the River Dordogne and the Gironde estuary between Saint-André-de-Cubzac and Blaye, here is an example of a sign painted not on a wall but on wood.

With its wooden front and long windows behind which products would have been displayed, this is a typical 19th century French shop. Unfortunately I have not found what was once on offer at Devèze's.

P. Devèze

Location: Rue Saint-Simon, Blaye, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Boulangerie, Blaye

On this Sunday morning you will have to look elwhere to get a fresh baguette and croissant for breakfast.

Boulangerie [Bakery]

It seems something else was written on this wall, mirroring the curve of Boulangerie. This may well have been Pâtisserie.

Location: Rue Saint-Simon, Blaye, Gironde / Picture taken in May 2012

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Pharmacie, Blaye

Shelves with jars of medicines and other remedies would have been lining the walls of this pharmacy. Did it remain open for long enough to witness the apparition of plastic packages? Maybe not.


Location: Rue Prémayac, Blye, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Friday, 20 July 2012

Pizzeria, Blaye

The lack of visibility of this rather simple painted sign explains why a modern protruding sign was added. However it really doesn't enhance the façade!


Location: Rue Neuve, Blaye, Gironde / Picture taken in May 2012

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Crédit commercial, Blaye

It was only after I passed in front of the building three times that I noticed a ghost sign for a bank. Even though only Crédit commercial is visible, it is possible de France is hidden by the modern sign.
The Crédit Commercial de France (CCF) was founded in 1917 when the Banque Suisse et Française merged with several smaller banks. Further mergers took place over the following years and by the end of the 1920s the CCF had become France's 6th largest bank. Expansion continued after the Second World War. In 1981, together with banks Suez, Paribas and Société Générale, the CCF was nationalised by the socialist government. However by 1986, with the right back in power, these four banks were privatised.
The CCF was bought by HSBC in 2000. The name disappeared five years later when it was rebranded HSBC France.

Crédit commercial

Location: Place de l'Europe, Blaye, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Total, Bourg

The name of the petrol brand (*) and an arrow pointing downward was enough to indicate to drivers they had reached the petrol station.

*: when this sign was painted, Total was just a brand of the Compagnie Française des Pétroles. The company took the name Total in 1991.


If you have been following this blog, this is not the petrol station mentioned on the ghost sign for Total posted a few days ago. Indeed 6.1 km separate the two.

Loaction: D669, Bourg, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Lincoln, La Lustre

If the ghost sign for Lincoln washing machines in Saint-André-de-Cubzac has somehow lost its colours, this one in the small hamlet of La Lustre is still relatively well preserved.
For some information about the Lincoln brand, please refer to the post about the aforementioned ghost sign.

The fact this ghost sign includes the town where the authorized dealer, Blanc, was located gives us an idea about its age. Indeed the two municipalities of Prignac-et-Cazelles and Marcamps merged in 1965 to form Prignac-et-Marcamps. Thus this ghost sign was painted before.

S Salvaco
2. Pce Tourny, Bordeaux
Machines à laver
Blanc agent agréé Prignac et Cazelles

The name of the painter and what may be his phone number appear just underneath this ghost sign:


The advertising space on this wall was managed by the Société Salvaco, based in Bordeaux, as was the case for the wall in Saint-André-de-Cubzac.

Location: D669, La Lustre, Bourg, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Monday, 16 July 2012

Igol, Prignac-et-Marcamps

In spite of the fading paint and the creeper, it is still possible to identify the two signs that were painted on the side wall of this house, near the Café du Centre in Prignac.

The original ghost sign advertised the Atlantic brand of washing machines. Only the last part of the name, written diagonally in lower case in yellow on a black background, and part of the slogan "La machine à bien laver", on a red background, have survived. The origins of Atlantic go back to 1945, the year Jean Esswein began manfacturing spare parts for the automobile industry in La Roche-sur-Yon, Vendée. Ten years later he launched the Atlantic brand of washing machines to tap into the expanding household appliances market. A few years later the company began producing fridges as well. However in the late 1960s, under new leadership, it was decided the company should specialize in electrical heaters and water boilers. For that reason Atlantic sold in 1969 its washing machine and other domestic appliances branches to Thomson-Brandt.

The Atlantic ghost sign has largely disappeared under a second ghost sign for the Igol brand of oil and lubricants.

à bien laver

Its design has very little to do with the Igol sign from Saint-Porchaire posted previously. Painted here is the first version of the Igol logo. It featured the brand's name painted in white inside a blue rectangle with the head of a red cockerel above. This particular design was used between 1950, when the brand was launched, and 1970.

Location: Avenue des Côtes de Bourg, Prignac-et-Marcamps, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Café du Centre, Prignac-et-Marcamps

The Café du Centre in Prignac hasn't seen any patron for a long time but the façade still displays a fine late 19th or early 20th century ghost sign.

Café du CentreVins

One can imagine how busy it must have been on Bastille Day, with flags hanging from the windows and maybe an orchestra playing nearby.

Café du Centre



Location: Avenue des Côtes de Bourg, Prignac-et-Marcamps, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Friday, 13 July 2012

Total, Prignac-et-Marcamps

This sign in the small hamlet of Prignac between Saint-André-de-Cubzac and Bourg-sur-Gironde must have been a relief for drivers running low on petrol! Seven hundred metres further, they would have been able to refuel with Total, the petrol brand launched on 14 July 1954 by the Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP). The following year the CFP created a subsidiary, Total Compagnie Française de Distribution, for the purpose of developing a distibution network for the Total brand.

The CFP was created in 1924. In the aftermath of the First World War the French government wanted to encourage the creation of an instrument capable of implementing an independent national oil policy. It also needed a company to manage the interests previously held by Deutsche Bank in the Turkish Petroleum Company and seized as war reparations. The CFP group adopted the name Total in June 1991. To find out more about the evolution of the CFP and about the other companies that merged to form present-day Total, you can check the illustrated history available on Total's website. It includes pictures of service stations with adverts painted on their walls.

This wall is a real palimpsest. Indeed there are two Total signs, plus another, older one.
The particular design of both signs for Total (the name in red on a diagonal white stripe at a 30 degree angle surrounded by two blue triangles and with the 'A' slightly tilting towards the left) indicates they were painted between 1954 and the mid-1960s. The company chaged the Total logo in 1963 but signs painters may have continued to use the original design for a while. Still there are some differences between the two. On one the name is right in the centre of the frame formed by the white stripe and blue triangles. However on the other, the name appears more towards the left. The reason is this ghost sign incorporated towards the right the gas pump logo, designed in 1955, with a red flame on a blue circle against a white background. The distance to the petrol station was painted at the same time. My guess is this rather unusual design may well have been used first but was replaced by the simpler and much more common sign design mentioned first.

à 700 m.

The blue triangle above the Total signs is the logo of the advertising company that rented this wall: AMO.

With regards to the ghost sign painted before the Total ones, it stood against a yellow background. All I managed to read from it is:

À Bourg-sur-Gironde

Location: Avenue des Côtes de Bourg, Prignac-et-Marcamps, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Chateau du Bouilh, Saint-André-de-Cubzac (2)

Since there are two entrances leading to the Château du Bouilh, one could expect to find two painted signs.

Indeed, another one can be seen on this house by the road between Saint-André-de-Cubzac and Bourg-sur-Gironde. The message and typeface differ from those on yesterday's sign. The colours are more vibrant too. This may be because this sign was painted more recently. It may also be due to the fact it faces north and, consequently, is much less exposed to the sun, when the previous sign faced south.

This sign not only encourages to taste and buy the wine produced at the Château du Bouilh but also lists the different kinds of wines available: red, white and rosé.

Chateau du Bouilh
Vin Rouge - Blanc - Rosé
Dégustation Vente

As mentioned yesterday, the Château du Bouilh is more famous for its architecture than its wine (even if it is fine enough). Although it was closed when I was there, I could still take a few pictures. Click on each one to enlarge.

The western corps de logis

The semi-elliptical gallery that was supposed to link both corps de logis.
However only the western one was built (left, in the background), leaving the gallery to end abruptly (right)

The dovecote (fuie) is all that is left from the previous castle. It is 12 m wide and contains 1200 pigeonholes.

Location: Route de Bourg, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Chateau du Bouilh, Saint-André-de-Cubzac (1)

This unassuming ghost sign on the side of the Route départementale 115 a couple of kilometres to the northwest of Saint-André-de-Cubzac invites tourists to turn left for a wine tasting session at the Château du Bouilh. The 48-ha vineyard produces a Bordeaux Supérieur.

However most people head towards the Château du Bouilh not so much for the wine but to discover one of Victor Louis's masterpieces. In 1786 Jean-Frédéric de La Tour du Pin Gouvernet, lieutenant general of the armies of king Louis XVI, contracted the famous architect of the Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux to build a castle fit to receive the king. Victor Louis's neo-classical design included two corps de logis linked by a semi-elliptical gallery. Unfortunately only the gallery and the western corps de logis were ever completed. Work stopped in 1789 after de La Tour du Pin Gouvernet was appointed minister of war. Four years later, following the trial and execution of Marie-Antoinette in favour of whom he had testified, he was guillotined.
For some photos, see the second post about the Château du Bouilh.

Chateau du Bouilh
Vinsà 500 m
Dégustation - Vente

Location: Route du Bouilh, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Dubonnet, Saint-André-de-Cubzac

This series of French ghost signs would not have been complete without a ghost sign for Dubonnet, one of the most ubiquitous aperitifs on the country's walls. However, contrary to other Dubonnet ghost signs presented on this blog, this one has almost completely faded away. If you wish to find out more about this once popular drink, click here.
Dubonnet was not the only product advertised on this wall. Unfortunately all I have identified is the first letter: 'P'.


Location: Rue Nationale, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde / Picture taken in May 2012

Monday, 9 July 2012

Lincoln, Saint-André-de-Cubzac

Upon leaving Saint-André-de-Cubzac in the direction of Paris, several painted signs awaited drivers, including this one for Lincoln's washing machines.

The information about this particular brand of domestic appliances is very patchy. Although the name would suggest otherwise, Lincoln was actually a French company, based Boulevard Malesherbes in Paris. As for the factory, it was in the industrial suburb of Gennevilliers. Its history seems closely connected with the period known in France as the Trente Glorieuses, characterised by steady economic growth and rising standards of living.
Lincoln launched its first washing machine in 1949. By then these appliances were still very expensive: its 1953 'Cadette' cost 150,000 francs plus tax when presented to the public at the Foire de Paris. That would be equivalent to 3,048 euros. However the number of households equipped with a washing machine rose sharply in the 1960s, from 35% in 1960 to 57% in 1970 and 70% in 1974, and Lincoln became a household name. Even though they were often more expensive than their competitors', Lincoln's products were appreciated for their design and well-known for their sturdiness. Yet after 1975 the economy slowed down and in this context prices became an important factor. Several post-war manufacturers disappeared or were taken over in the 1970s. By the end of the decade the market was dominated by three groups, Thomson-Brandt, Arthur-Martin and Philips, and two independent companies, Lincoln and Flandria. Like Flandria, Lincoln survived for a few more years but the company finally disappeared in the 1980s.

Machines à laver
2 Place Tourny . Bordeaux

No information is available about the Salvaco. Could this have been Lincoln's representative in Gironde? Or was this the company that rented the space on this wall? In any case it certainly did well enough: Place Tourny is one of Bordeaux's most expensive areas. Nowadays in lieu of Savalco's offices, one finds a Comtesse du Barry shop selling fois gras and other French delicacies.

Location: Rue Nationale, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Garage, Saint-André-de-Cubzac

Another place in Saint-André-de-Cubzac where car maintenance and repairs could be carried out was the Garage National, a much more modest affair than the Renault garage less than 50 metres away.

Garage National

Location: Rue Nationale, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde / Picture taken in May 2012

Friday, 6 July 2012

Hotel des Acacias, Saint-André-de-Cubzac

If their broken-down car could not be repaired straight away, holidaymakers stuck in Saint-André-de-Cubzac could always spend a night at the Hôtel des Acacias, next to the Renault garage. To cheer them up, they could either dance or play a game of billiard. The hotel also welcome wedding and dinner parties ('noces et banquets'). Yet, given the style of the ghost sign, by the time waves of holidaymakers passed through the town, this may no longer have been a hotel.

The particular style of the central part of this ghost sign suggests it was painted in the first couple of decades of the 20th century if not slightly earlier. Some letters are reminiscent of those of the vannerie ghost sign in Cognac (15th picture).

Tenu par A. Boyer
Noces & banquets
Salle de danse et billard

Actually 'Salle de danse and billard' was painted over two earlier signs. The original one read:

Hôtel - Restaurant - Guinguette

Guinguettes were extremely popular in France between the 1880s and the 1950s. The term usually referred to an open-air venue, where people could not only eat but also dance. Sometimes they could bathe as well, although this would not have been the case here since there is no river or lake at the back of the building.
This original sign was replaced by another one that ended with the name of the owner:
... Boyer

The shadows made strange patterns on the façade that day.

Location: Rue Nationale, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012