Monday, 24 November 2008

Some Fulham Ghost Signs

Looking back through my collection of snapshots and unused photos I realised that I had a fair number from a couple of strolls I took over Putney Bridge into the wildlands of North London during the summer. Now I know to most people Fulham would be bordering West London, but to anyone born south of the river the real divide is north/south rather than east/west. Crossing that river, be it on foot, in car or on train is always a psychological trip to the dark side. It seems the locals are reasonably friendly though and after a while I was able to relax enough to take my camera out of its case and to start taking a few snaps. It's been a while since I was there and I may have a bit of a problem remembering exactly which road the pictures were taken in and although there were no major ghost signs in evidence there were a few tantalising glimpses of what used to be...

The Drive, Fulham Road
The Drive is a small slip road in front of a block of flats that might have been quite grand in its day. The gold paint has faded though and the sign long since ceased to be worth re-painting

Fulham Road (?)
I know, you're thinking "This one is too clean to be a ghost sign - he must be mistaken?" Well granted it is very clear but apart from the fact that the business is no longer in place, when was the last time you can remember a removals van being called a Pantechnicon? It's one of those words which is crying out for a check on its origins so here goes. From the Wikipedia comes the following explanation
Pantechnicon has become the generic name for vehicles specially designed and constructed to transport furniture, except where "moving van" is usual. This is derived from a building of that name in Motcombe Street, Belgravia, London. The Seth Smith brothers, originally from Wiltshire, were builders in the early 19th century and constructed much of the new housing in Belgravia, then a country area. Their clients required storage facilities and this was built with a Greek style Doric column fa├žade, and called Pantechnicon, Greek for "pertaining to all the arts or crafts". Subsequently special wagons were designed with sloping ramps to more easily load furniture with the building name on the side. The Pantechnicon Ltd, a furniture storage and removal company continued to trade until the 1970s. The building still exists as an antique shop.
Parsons Green
This one is so frustrating. It faces a railway line so is a prime site for advertising and it is obvious that the current inhabitants quite like being superimposed on previous signage, but I feel like I'm trying to read this one twenty years too late. Although there are loads of layers of advertising here, it makes it almost impossible to make out more than a few letters at a time. Best of luck if you can make anything out...

Maybe the top lettering might be easier to read? Maybe not...Draycott Mews, New Kings Road
Now bisected by a modern gate this alleyway once led to a printers. Sadly it's now impossible to make out who they were other than the fact they started "W. BR...". You can still see some lettering on the other side of the bars but not enough to make out the name.

New Kings Road (?)
Last ghost sign on my little perambulation. This one was on the side of a house facing the street and seems partially obscured by what I assume was a later building. It's obviously for a builders merchant as it's offering bricks and sand amongst other items. Pity the white paint is obscuring most of it, but that's the way it goes.


Anonymous said...


Great stuff as usual. I took some pictures in October of the sign near Parsons Green station. It was an ad for the Victoria Palace (the name appears twice), opposite Victoria Station (just in case you didn't know, so it says underneath. The bottom line is the phone number).
I also have pictures of the other signs, including the Draycott Mews one. This modern gate is really frustrating. The first letters of three words can be spotted above "W.Br": "HOR"[SE?] "SHO"[ES?] and "PRINC" Behind the gate, one can read "PUTNEY". Actually there is another painted sign on the opposite wall with what looks like "...PIER" "OI..HAWL" and again "PUTNEY"

I shall be looking forward to your next visits across southwest London,


Yelfy said...

Thanks for that Sebastien. It seems I've been making a bit of a habit collecting these 'multiple overlay heavily faded' ghost signs recently. They are frustrating and the only way I can think of working it out is to look for some old photos for some few clues.

Unknown said...

I don't have anything useful to say that will contribute to your post, but I just wanted to let you know that I love your blog. I have only read the first three posts and will keep coming back to read the rest.

The ghost signs are very interesting, my family comes from Fulham.


Yelfy said...

Hi Karina. Thanks for your kind comments and you may be interested to know I have a number of other Fulham related photographs I aim to post in the not-too-distant future!

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These are some really interesting images which provide a reminder of the past. It's amazing how clean the M.Regan sign is, it's as if someone's been coming to clean it on a regular basis so people don't forget what used to be there. I've never really paid much attention to ghost signs, but I'll definitely keep an eye out now.

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