Thursday, 30 September 2010

The National News and the Sunday Evening Telegram, Battersea

It is quite amazing how some ghost signs advertising products that disappeared decades ago managed to survive for so long virtually untouched. Such is the case of the one below, which encourages people to read two different Sunday papers, both of which were last published in the early 1920s.

The weekly National News was first published in 1917, the same year Sir Henry Dalziel, the Liberal MP for Kirkaldy and owner at the time of several papers including Reynold's News, launched the Sunday Evening Telegram. Although several newspapers were published on Sundays, there was until then no evening paper. Two editions of the Telegram were printed each week.
In October 1919 Sunday Publications Ltd, a syndicate headed by Horatio Bottomley, MP for South Hackney and the greatest swindler in Edwardian Britain, acquired a controlling interest in both papers. Actually the way Bottomley obtained the money to buy these two publications was unorthodox to say the least: he simply diverted some of the money sent by the public to the Victory Bond Club (the Victory Bond Club was the greatest sting ever mounted by Bottomley, a man with considerable experience in that field!). Bottomley became their editor, a position he shared with Charles Palmer, who in 1920 was elected independent MP for the Wrekin. For his work, Bottomley was paid £2000 a year plus ten per cent of annual profits. He also received 75,000 shares of Sunday Publications Ltd. Yet both papers, which were printed by Odhams Press, had a relatively small circulation and didn't make any profit. In 1921 Bottomley converted the National News into the Sunday Illustrated and ran it in competition with the Sunday Pictorial, for which he had been writing a weekly column until then. Expensive to produce, the Sunday Illustrated only lasted for a few years. As for the Sunday Evening Telegram, it disappeared in 1921.

Spend a Happy Sunday
With the
National News
Sunday Evening
... ... of Horatio Bottomley MP

A few years ago the future of this ghost sign looked uncertain. Indeed Clear Channel UK Ltd installed a high level revolving and illuminated billboard on this wall. When Wandworth Council objected to it, the company argued it didn't need consent from the Council since this location was being used for the purpose of advertising since 1st April 1974. This was challenged and the matter was eventually settled in the High Court, where two judges ruled in favour of the Council: since the two newspapers were last published in 1921, this sign couldn't be considered as still being used for advertising purposes on 1st April 1974. Consequently the billboard was taken down.

Location: Hafer Road / Picture taken on: 07/03/2008

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

G. & W. E. Downing, Maltsters, Gloucester (2)

Yesterday I presented the sign painted by George and William E. Downing on the second malthouse of their Gloucester site. Further expansion took place in 1901 with the addition of malthouses 3 and 4. Like malthouse 2, they were designed by Walter B. Wood and built by the Gurney Brothers. Both malthouses were of a similar interior design, with a basement working floor, a malt room, two more working floors, and two attics. A kiln was located at the north end of each. Malthouse 4 was slightly wider though, with an extra bay supported by pillars over the canal quay.

MaltstersG. & W. E. Downing...s
Head Office Spon Lane Smethwick

In 1931 G. & W. E. Downing was taken over by rival maltsters Samuel Thompson & Sons, also of Smethwick. However it was decided to retain the name Downing for the Gloucester side of the business. Founded in 1805, Samuel Thompson had almagated in 1928 with Gilstrap Earp, Edward Sutcliffe, and W. J. Robson to form Associated British Maltsters (ABM), but each company retained its trading name.
In the 1950s the original malthouse was largely demolished and replaced by a concrete building and the two more recent ones were slightly modified to improve productivity. Yet the face of the industry was changing, with the introduction of new technology and the arrrival on the British market of international groups. In 1972, ABM was taken over by Australian company Dalgety that was expanding rapidly its UK interests. Once the purchase was completed, Dalgety decided to replace the name Downing by ABM. Production at the Gloucester malthouses came to an end in 1980 after Dalgety opened a brand new plant at Wallingford. The site was sold then to the West Midlands Farmers.

When Malthouses 3 and 4 were built, a bridge was erected across Merchant Street to link them to the earlier ones. In the 1970s it was painted with the ABM initials. The sign posted yesterday is on the first wall on the left. Behind the bridge is the contrete malthouse that replaced the original 1876 facilities.

For more information about G. & W. E. Downing, you can refer to the excellent article "Downing's Malthouses" published in 2008 in the Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal.

Location: Merchant Road, Gloucester, Gloucestershire / Pictures taken on: 24/07/2010

Monday, 27 September 2010

G. & W. E. Downing, Maltsters, Gloucester (1)

Maltsters George and William E. Downing from Smethwick in the West Midlands opened their first malthouse in Gloucester in 1876. As their business expanded, they built a second malthouse to the north of the original building in 1895. Designed by Walter B. Wood and built by the Gurney Brothers, it consisted of three ranges. The first two included a basement with a steeping tank in which barley was soaked usually for a couple of days and a working floor where the barley was allowed to germinate and sprout, a malt room where malt was stored and bagged, two more working floors, and an attic where barley was stored. The third range, to the north included a large malt kiln and a smaller barley kiln, where germination was inhibited. Part of this building was also used to clean and repair returned malt sacks. The absence of windows on the upper floors of the third range gave Downing ample space to advertise their business.

G. & W. E. Downing
Head Office Spon Lane Smethwick
Branch Malt... [Malthouses]
Smethwick *
Birmingham *
West Bromwich *
Wednesbury *
Walsall *
Bristol *
Tewkesbury *
Gloucester *
Oswestry *
Oxford *
This sign was painted twice. Originally, the names of towns and cities were written in larger letters (they are indicated by a '*'). However as G. & W. E. Downing expanded, it became necessary to list more locations, hence the smaller font. The order was also altered.

Update: the fourth line should read "Branch Maltings" (and not "Malthouses"). Thank you very much to Aztec for pointing that out. See comments below.

View of the sign was partly obscured when two more malthouses were built in 1901 between Merchant Street and Bakers Quay on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. On the picture below, it is seen from the tow path that runs on the other side of the canal.

Location: Merchant Road, Gloucester, Gloucestershire / Pictures taken on: 24/07/2010

Friday, 24 September 2010

Whitehead, ironmonger, Sevenoaks

A very neat and well-preserved sign spotted on the way to Sevenoaks centre from the station but about which I haven't found any information.

Builders Merchant
Iron Founder
Monumental and General Mason
Works Tub's Hill station

Sevenoaks station was originally known as Tub's Hill, after the part of town it is located in.

Location: London Road, Sevenoaks, Kent / Picture taken on: 13/07/2008

Friday, 17 September 2010

Yager's, Stamford Hill

If early mornings get any nippier, it will soon be time to get winter coats out of the wardrobre or to buy a new one. Decades ago, people in northeast London might have found the right garment at Yager's clothes shop on Stamford Hill. Unfortunately two modern billboards hide part of this sign. It would be interesting to see what else could be purchased at Yager's...


Buy Your
And Save


Location: Ravensdale Road / Pictures taken on: 04/06/2008

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Berger's Magicote, Chiswick

I didn't post anything over the past two weeks partly because I was busy redecorating some rooms, splashing paint on walls, door frames and mouldings. Although I didn't use Berger's Magicote, the sign below is certainly the right one to resume activities on this blog.
The origins of Berger date back to the second half of the eighteenth century and the arrival in London of Louis Amelius Christanus Adolphus Steigenberger from Frankfurt. Ten years later, in 1770, he shortened his name to Lewis Berger. The Friends of the Old Paint Company have assembled a very good website with a detailed history of Berger and the different companies that ultimately formed Berger, Jenson & Nicholson. Simply click on the History link.

One-Coat Paint
The World's Most
Advanced Paint
Wallpapers (Ealing) Ltd

This painted sign, which must date from the 1960s, also included a drawing of two pots of Berger One-Coat Magicote Gloss.
The presence of "Wallpapers (Ealing) Ltd" on the sign is a bit of a mystery. I haven't found much information about the company but it doesn't appear to be linked to Berger or any company it joined forces with. Maybe a DIY shop existed in the building where this sign was painted and it was responsible for this addition?

Update: this ghost sign has now disappeared (July 2011)

Location: Chiswick High Road / Picture taken on: 22/05/2008

Friday, 3 September 2010

Strongs, Upper Clapton

If Hinton and R. Gunner in Wembley thought mentioning the origin of their meat was a good selling argument, Strongs didn't bother with it as only the best meat available was sold in his shop. At least that's what he claimed...

Upper Clapton Butcher Strongs Best Quality Meat
Best Quality

Location: Northwold Road / Picture taken on: 10/04/2008

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Jolly & Son, Bath

Bath's most famous premium department store, Jolly & Son was opened by James Jolly in 1831. Initially called The Bath Emporium and located at 12, Milsom Street, it sold fine silk, furs and ribbons from Paris. Over the following decades the owners bought adjacent premises and by 1903 Jolly & Son stretched from number 7 to 14. The peacock, which was chosen as the trade emblem of this exclusive shop, can be found not only on friezes but also on this beautiful mosaic. Unfortunately it is by an entrance which is closed and used to store the bins.

Jolly & Son Bath Limtd

In 1968 Jolly & Son was acquired by E. Dingles & Co Ltd. Three years later, Dingles became part of the House of Fraser chain. Even though House of Fraser has been rebranding the stores it acquired under its name, the stag hasn't replaced the peacock...

Location: Milsom Street, Bath, Somerset / Pictures taken on 17/07/2010

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Girls' school, Weymouth

Today is the first day of September and soon pupils and teachers will be going back to school, as they certainly did at this girls' school more than a century ago.

Two signs have been painted by the entrance of this early nineteenth century town house. The original reads
Boarding & Day

The more recent one reads
Girls' School
. Harvey

Location: Trinity Street, Weymouth, Dorset / Picture taken on: 08/08/2009