Thursday, 4 September 2008

Q. When is a Ghost Sign not a Ghost Sign? A. When it's in Totnes, Devon

A 'Faded London' Holiday Special!
Down in Devon this 'summer' I came across this interesting building in Totnes, facing onto the River Dart. What caught my attention was the way that the building had been painted. It was obviously a recent paint-job, but the owners seemed to have made a conscious effort to replicate/preserve the original signage that must have been apparent on the side of the building.
I suppose most owners of a building with a 'ghost sign' will either leave it alone - assuming it either adds to the character of the building or that they would feel guilty in obliterating it - or paint over it , preferring a nice, shiny blank canvas. However this owner seems to have taken a rare, third course of re-painting the lettering in-situ. As his neighbour has not followed suit it looks a little odd but it's certainly eye-catching and preserves something of the history of the site. It's certainly not as interesting as the original and leaves me with mixed feelings. On the whole I think it's not unlike having a gravestone for the original sign. The body may be gone but you can still read a sanitised version of what it represented. I wonder how many more such examples may be out there?

4 comments:

CarolineLD said...

A bar in Upper Street has done something similar, but kept the faded look more successfully:
http://carolineld.blogspot.com/2008/06/ghost-signs.html

Yelfy said...

Hi Caroline. Thanks for that intriguing link, an interesting example of hi-jacking the 'nostalgia' feel of a ghost sign for their own ends. Again it makes me consider what I feel is the attraction of 'ghost signs' and whether I should feel pleased or upset at how some marketing executive has decided to promote the pub. Actually, after some consideration, a big part of me thinks that they are only carrying on the traditional habit of painting over an existing sign and that future owners might well do the same themselves, keeping it 'live', whereas the Totnes sign is now well and truly 'fixed'. Any painting there will be to obliterate it for good...

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