Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Davis & Son, Dorchester

At first sight it didn't look as if I would stumble upon a ghost sign in South Walks Road. But as we made our way towards St Georges Church in Fordington I spotted a puzzling one at the end of a row of houses built in 1886 (to the right of the pole with all the wires).

The building firm R. Davis & Son is mentioned in several journals, such as The Builder or The Architect, published between 1872 and 1900. It must have been a reliable and relatively large company as they were awarded some important contracts, including the construction of Dorchester Grammar School, of the Methodist Church in South Street, Dorchester, or of baths and wash houses in Bristol. Over time Davis & Son worked with several well-known architects such as George Edmund Street. The firm's offices were in Trinity Street, in the centre of Dorchester. The house where the ghost sign can be seen, half a mile to the east, may have been R. Davis's home or that of his son.

R. Davis & Son
Builders & Contractors Brick & Tile Makers
Offices ...8 Trinity St. Dorchester

What makes this sign slightly puzzling is the two lowest rows of bricks, above the passageway. Click on the picture below for a closer look to see what I mean!

Part of the wall has obviously been rebuilt, using the original bricks. However they haven't been placed in the same order, and some have been turned upside down while other have their previously hidden side exposed and vice versa. As a result, whatever was written in the lower part of the ghost sign is now a bit of a jigsaw!

The picture below shows those bricks on which something was written.

Below I tried to reconstitute whatever could have been written. The only word I am sure of is the first one, 'Yards.'

...d Maynard ?
...d Mard... ?
Blanford ?
...At B...

If you can think of other combinations, please let me know through the comments box. And in case you wondered, this is not the only example of a ghost sign jigsaw.

Location: South Walks Road, Dorchester, Dorset / Pictures taken in May 2011

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