Friday, 23 November 2012

Bishop & Sons, Pimlico

Nearly a couple of months ago, while travelling on a train towards Victoria Station, I noticed one of the billboards overlooking the railway tracks had gone, revealing a large ghost sign.

The removal firm Bishop & Sons was established in 1854 by Joseph James Bishop. The company's original depository was located in Hugh Street, Pimlico (it may have been the building where the ghost sign was painted). As business grew, other depositories were built nearby in Ebury Street and Belgrave Road as well as in Clapham. By the mid-1930s, the surface space of its West End storage facilities exceeded 60,000 square feet. Besides the removing and warehousing of furniture, the company's activities also covered the buying and selling of furniture and their shipments abroad. Among its customers were wealthy families from London with summer residences in the south of England.

The Belgrave Road depository, built in the inter-war years, overlooked the eastern section of Victoria Station and housed the company's main offices. By 1930s standards it was a modern building of fireproof reinforced concrete and tiled floors. Although the Belgrave Road façade was rather narrow it extended into Hugh Street (this was a new one, not the original depository), where the storage space was found. Pantechnicons and later trucks could be driven into the ground floor, where their loads were brought by several lifts to the upper floors. It was on this building that in the early 1930s the company installed a large electric sign visible from the Kent coast trains arriving at and leaving Victoria Station. With such a modern advert, the earlier sign painted two hundred metres further south would have suddenly looked a bit dull.

Fa... Removing
& Warehousing
Bishop & Sons
Hugh St. & Ebury St.
Pimlico, London, SW1

I am a bit puzzled by the first word. One would have expected 'Furniture' but the second letter seems to a 'A'. Could this have been 'Family-run'? If you have another idea, please let me know.

Below is a company's postcard showing one of its steam tractors. During the first half of the 20th century Bishop & Sons operated a fleet of such steam pantechnicons (see pictures of a preserved engine) alongside horse-drawn ones (similar to the one featured on a Thornton Heath ghost sign). In the early 20th century it kept eighty horses in its stables. During the summer months, when activity was reduced, many horses were rented for haymaking and other farming activities. As the company's number of trucks increased in the 1920s and 1930s, their number declined but in the mid-1930s it still kept five pairs of horses as they were found to be much more economical than steam or motor vehicles for short journeys between its depositories and its clients' homes in the West End. Both horse-drawn and steam pantechnicons disappeared after the war.

The company still exist today. It is still a family business and trades under the name Bishop's Move.

Location: Cambridge Street / Pictures taken in November 2012

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