Location: Calle Simón Bolivar, Trinidad / Picture taken in March 2010
Between the mid-18th century, if not earlier, and the second half of the 19th century, this was the site of Hodson's Farm. The information about it is a bit patchy but the construction of the London and Birmingham Railway's line (later part of the London & North Western Railway) out of London Euston in 1833 must have cut the farm into two because a private bridge spanning the railway was subsequently erected. Until the 1870s the area remained largely rural, with much land dedicated to farming. If only a few acres were dedicated to dairy farming before 1864, their number grew rapidly after an Act of Parliament made it illegal to keep cattle within the limits of the metropolis. However this boom of dairy farming did not last for long. By the 1880s the outward expansion of London reached the Kensal Green area. Pockets of urban developments already existed at the eastern end towards Kilburn and a handful of houses had already been built along Kilburn Lane, but within a few years most farmland was sold to property developers. Still a few farms subsisted, albeit on a much reduced scale. Rows of houses spread across most of Hodson's Farm but on a narrow plot tucked away between Kilburn Lane and the railway line a complete set of new buildings required for dairy farming, including milking rooms, was erected. This certainly happened after the land had been purchased by William Higgins. The earliest mention of Higgins's dairy I found dates from 1890 but it may have been established ealier.
Apart from a few references in professional journals, there is virtually no information about Higgins Bros. However as an independent dairy, Higgins Bros must have found it hard to compete with larger concerns. Changes in consumers' habits in the 1950s and 1960s certainly had a negative impact on its finances. In October 1957, Higgins Bros was taken over for the sum of £10,000 (equivalent to £210,000 in 2012) by a new company called Higgins Bros. Dairies Ltd in what looked like a desperate attempt to improve the financial health of an ailing business. The last mention of Higgins Bros I found dates from 1967. Although the full text is not available online, it may well have been to announce it had ceased trading.
While something can still be read on the ghost sign above, by the entrance to the courtyard, the one facing the street, which is much more exposed to the elements, has completely faded.
Both ghost signs appear on a postcard from the early 20th century but the quality is not good enough to read what was on the second sign.
In 2003 an application was made for the redevelopment of the site of the Higgins Bros' dairy. The different buildings would have been demolished to make way for two three-storey blocks of flats. This project did not go through for several reasons, one being that the redevelopment would result in the loss of attractive buildings with un-altered architectural features and of historical merit.
Location: Kilburn Lane / Pictures take in December 2011
Whatever the reason was, visitors to the Hanseatic city of Stralsund on the Baltic Sea can still notice that a shop that sold sewing machines once stood at the corner of Papenstraße and Filterstraße.
The spelling Maschiene, instead of the correct Maschine, is interesting. The word was borrowed in the 17th century from the French, machine, and Germanised with the addition of a 's' before the 'c'. By then it referred to engines used during a military siege. But where does the additional 'e' come from? One possibility is that, in parts of what would become Germany, it was inserted so the spelling corresponded to the correct pronounciation (with a long 'i'). Another, more fanciful explanation is that the word lost its purely military sense and became widely used when steam locomotives (Dampfmaschinen) appeared. As these machines go on rails (Schienen), some people erroneously combined the two into Maschienen.
Finally, this was not the only ghost sign there. Traces of an earlier one can still be seen but it is impossible to decipher it.
Location: Papenstraße, Stralsund, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern / Picture taken in May 2009
Location: High Road / Pictures taken in June 2008
Unfortunately the other half is still hidden behind a sign for the Clock Clinic, the current occupier of the premises. As a visit to the local library and an online search failed to provide any information about any undertaker on Lower Richmond Road, the name remains a mystery.
Location: Lower Richmond Road / Pictures taken in July 2012
Location: Boulevard de Satin-Hérie, Matha, Charente-Maritime / Picture taken in January 2011
Even though the upper part of this ghost sign for a furniture maker and renovator from Isleworth has disappeared, a postcard in Howard's amazing collection of postcards reveals what the missing text was.
The building it is painted on appears on a postcard certainly printed shortly after the opening of the London United Tramways line through Isleworth in 1901. At the time the premises were occupied by a newsagent's. Three hoardings (from the top: unidentified, "Cycle Works", and "Tobacccos") can be seen on the façade.
A few years later these had disappeared, as shown on a postcard printed c. 1907 and kindly provided by Howard. Adverts for Virgo's garage and different brands of tyres had replaced the smaller sign for the cycle works as the number of motor vehicles on the roads increased. At the corner of London Road and Spring Grove, A. Peters's confectionary shop had taken the newsagent's place.
By 1920 the confectionery shop had been replaced by Mr Pearson's shop, which specialised in stamps and philatelic accessories according to The Stamp Collectors' Fortnightly and International Stamp Advertiser. Pearson's was not around for long though. Another postcard from the 1920s, also provided by Howard, shows Stewart's was the new occupier of the premises. Above the door and front windows were adverts for Cadbury's chocolates and several brands of cigarettes.
This postcard is particularly interesting because it also shows the ghost sign I took a picture of and reveals what the missing part was. Originally, given the design of the sign and its position, I had assumed that White & Pointing had been trading at 532, London Road at some point between 1901 and 1920. However I was clearly wrong.
Looking at the postcard, it is hard to tell where the premises of picture frame and cabinet makers White & Pointing were. Could the unassuming premises immediately to the left of Stewart's have been theirs? A couple of frames are hanging behind the window but that may not be enough to establish a clear link. Additionally, could one of the awnings in the centre of the picture be inscribed with 'Pointing's Stores'? Unfortunately an online search by name, address, or profession did not provide any additional information.
from the postcard
Location: London Road / Pictures taken in December 2012
With only part of the first and the last two letters still visible, the first line could have been either 'The Best' or 'Largest'. Strangely, 'Cheapest' is written in lower case when the rest of the ghost sign is in upper case.
I could not resist posting a picture of the mural at the back of the building, inspired by one of the most famous Japanese woodblock prints: Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa, published in the early 1830s. Obviously this is not a faithful reproduction as the wave is progressing in the opposite direction (the presence of the house next door made this necessary as the dramatic impact of the composition would have been lost should the wave have been about to break on a Victorian brick house!) and the oshiokuri-bune (the fast boats used to transport live fish) have been omitted. However Mount Fuji still appears in the background.
Location: Coldharbour Place / Pictures taken in July 2009 and April 2008
The 1847 edition of Hunt & Co's Directory & Court Guide includes an entry for Richard Morris, coach builder, at New Market. The same year both The Jurist and The Spectator informed their readers that the case of Richard Morris, coach builder from Gloucester, would be heard by the Court of Review in Bankruptcy. Could he be the one behind this ghost sign? This seems to be confirmed by the 1863 edition of the Post Office Directory, which lists a Richard Morris, carriage builder, at Market Parade. The difference in the address is certainly due to a change in the name of the street.
Obviously it is possible Richard Morris set up a company that survived him and this ghost sign was painted by his heirs. 'R. Morris' could also simply be one of his descendants. However the absence of documents (as far as I am aware) to support these hypotheses would suggest we are be looking at a ghost sign from the mid-19th century indeed.
Location: Market Parade, Gloucester, Gloucestershire / Pictures taken in July 2010
This newly painted sign covers almost completely an earlier ghost sign. Only the upper part of the first line has survived but that is enough to identify it as
A quick search through issues of Country Life from the 1960s and 1970s reveals Harrods Estate once had an office at 56A, High Street indeed.
Location: High Street, Haslemere, Surrey / Picture taken in September 2009
Even if this lovely sign was painted relatively recently, El Tigre de Oro bakery may predate the Cuban revolution by several decades. Indeed I wonder if it was not behind the brand of galletas de chicharrón (biscuit or bun with pork rind) "El Tigre de Oro" that was advertised in some local publications in the 1930s.
El Tigre de
Location: Calle Céspedes, Santa Clara
The simplicity of the ghost sign could suggest this was a modest business and this could be why I have not found any detail about a moneylender by the name of Newman operating in Ivor Place (previously Upper Park Place) or the surrounding area.
Location: Ivor Place / Pictures taken in May 2012
The Fortess Road Post Office was built in the late 19th century, shortly after the Kentish Town end of this thoroughfare was widened.
While some post offices were identified by more or less modest painted signs (see two examples from Stoke Newington and Woodvale), the Fortess Road branch was given a lovely mosaic with elaborate lettering surrounded by floral patterns.
The same floral motif is found above three windows (for some reason the mosaic above the fourth one was lost).
Location: Fortess Road / Picttures taken in August 2008
His shop, which once occupied the ground floor of this small block of flats, was replaced by a cafe a few years ago.
Location: Nile Street / Pictures taken in March 2012
The only mentions of the building and decorating firm of James Rugg & Son I could find date from 1933 and 1948, in The Electrical Journal and Charles White's The Royal Borough of Kensington respectively.
It is rather unusual for the name of a telephone exchange -Frobisher- to be written in full, the custom being to put the first three letters only. In this case, potential customers would have had to dial the code 370 for FRO. The Frobisher exchange served the Earls Court area (if the name of most exchanges made sense -in some way-, in this particular case it escapes me as I haven't found any connection between this part of Kensington and the English navigator and explorer Martin Frobisher).
Given its good state, this ghost sign was certainly painted after the war, possibly in the 1950s if not later. In any case no later than 1966 since that year the Director System for telephone numbers (three letters followed by four numbers) was replaced by All Figure Numbering.
Location: Kenway Road / Pictures taken in November 2012
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.
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
In its issue from 15 August 1868, The Economist announced that W. Mulliner, builder's foreman from Wandsworth, had been declared bankrupt.
However, since the firm W. Mulliner & Sons appears in specialized journals published nearly 50 years later, one can wonder whether it was him or a relative with the same initial who set it up.
Apart from the name of the company, this ghost sign has faded too much to be able to decipher anything else. Traces of letters still visible here and there indicate that two signs at least were painted, both possibly for W. Mulliner & Sons since nothing overlaps the firm's name.
Location: St Ann's Hill / Pictures taken in March 2010 and July 2012
The firm originally consisted of a partnership between two Reuben brothers but on 31 December 1937, The London Gazette published the following notice:
NOTICE is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us, the undersigned Hyman Reuben of 72 The Avenue Brondesbury London N.W. and Julius Joseph Reuben of 226 Watford Way Hendon Middlesex carrying on business as Plywood and Veneer Importers, at 390 Hackney Road London, E.2, under the style or firm of REUBEN BROS, has been dissolved by mutual consent as from the 24th day of December 1937-—Dated this 28th day of December 1937.
JULIUS JOSEPH REUBEN.
Even though the partnership between the Reuben brothers came to an end in 1937, Hyman Reuben continued trading under the name Reuben Bros at 390, Hackney Road for 14 more years. As for his brother Julius Joseph Reuben, he set up a limited company with addresses at 311, Euston Road and 66, Warren Street. Other members of the family also became plywood merchants, trading from a variety of addresses in central London and Hackney according to various editions of The Timber Trades Journal and Saw-mill Advertiser from the 1940s and early 1950s.
However in late 1950 or early 1951 Hyman Reuben presented a petition for the winding up of Reuben Bros. It was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on 14 January 1951. A few months later, S. Fisher Ltd, radio and television cabinets maker moved into the premises.
There is something curious about this ghost sign. Indeed, why were the upper and lower parts left intact when the central part, which certainly featured the word "veneer", was painted over?
Location: Hackney Road / Pictures taken in March 2012
Still, thanks to some documents available online, it appears that in the 1920s (and certainly before) this was Albert Crick's bookshop and lending library. Indeed, in 1920, several acrimonious letters were exchanged between A. Crick and an anonymous contributor in the pages of The Publishers' Circular and Booksellers' Record of British and Foreign Literature regarding financial aspects of the bookselling business, and in particular the generation of profit.
Copies from 1937 of the same trade journal also show that by then Albert Crick also owned Crick's Library at 11a, Swains Lane. Notices published that year indicate he was selling ex-library books withdrawn from circulation. His main address remained 80, Dartmouth Park Hill though.
This second shop was still open in 1950 according to Clegg's International Directory of the World's Book Trade but there is no mention of it after that date. As for the original Crick's Corner, it is last mentioned in 1937.
Location: Bickerton Road / Pictures taken in November 2012
If I mention this ghost sign again, it is because a new hoarding has been recently put up on the wall. And this time it is a much larger one, that hides most of the lower half. Shame really!
For more information about this ghost sign, please check the original post.
Location: Killyon Road / Picture taken in July 2012
Opened in 1982, this venue offers locals and visitors to the seaside town a good range of drinks and food. Live music is occasionally performed as well.
Note the arrow was originally straight. This was certainly not the intended design and when the sign writer realised it, he modified it straight away.
Location: High Street, Swanage, Dorset / Pictures taken in October 2011
Location: High Street, Swanage, Dorset / Picture taken in October 2011
On the picture below, underneath the main ghost sign, a dark blue-ish rectangle can be seen. By now it has deteriorated so much it is impossible to make anything out of it. However that's the part that appeared in the movie and one could clearly read:
Of the ghost sign visible nowadays only a tiny part can be seen in the movie. However upon close examination, it appears that what is in the movie and what can still be read today don't match. In the film, even though the first word on the last line is truncated, it clearly starts with a 'A' and that doesn't fit at all with 'Offices.' This indicates that in the 1960s another sign, with white letters on a crimson background, covered the ghost sign I photographed.
I am not absolutely sure of what was written on the first line, with the exception of the 'S' at the end. Since the rest of the ghost sign clearly refers to railway facilities, it can be assumed it would be the name or rather initials of the company. In that's case the only one that would fit is the London, Midland and Scottish or LMS.
On 1 January 1923 the London and North Western, the Midland, the North Staffordshire, and the Furness Railways in England, and the Caledonian, Glasgow and South Western, and Highland Railways in Scotland merged to form the LMS. In London the LMS operated out of two terminals, Euston and St Pancras. Built by the Midland Railway, St Pancras was a vast complex that included not only the famous passenger station but also the large Somers Town Goods Depot (demolished to make way for the new British Library) and many yards and sidings (an aerial picture taken in 1957 gives an idea of the omnipresence of the railways in that part of London). Together with the other three railway companies operating in Britain, the LMS was nationalised in 1948 and became the Midland Region and part of the Scottish Region of British Railways. Following the nationalisation, it is very likely the original LMS sign was altered if not, as the movie shows, completely painted over by a new one. Therefore, if 'LMS' is really what was written, this sign was painted between 1923 and 1947.
The only intriguing thing about this is that if this ghost sign pointed to Somers Town goods station, then it sent drivers on a bit of a journey round the neighbourhood. Unless there was some kind of one-way traffic or a specific route for lorries?
Location: Camley Street / Picture taken in August 2008
Yet this is where a ghost sign for the Church and charitable movement founded in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth can be found. Did the Salvation Army acquire or rent the hall on a long term basis at some point? This would explain the presence of this ghost sign.
For some information about the Salvation Army, please check the post about its ghost sign in St Luke's, London.
Location: St Leonard's Road, Windsor, Berkshire / Pictures take in March 2011
The word "Musikwaren" means literally "music articles."
Location: Wasserstraße, Stralsund, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern / Picture taken in May 2009
With regards to the removals and storaage company, it was founded by Alfred Robinson in Manchester in 1885. It is still controlled by his descendants.
Location: Moseley Road / Pictures taken in May 2012
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