Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Freshwater, Isle of Wight - "Faded London On Tour" 2010

A quick weekend away near Freshwater on the Isle of Wight provided a couple of ghost signs from the immediate area. Being pushed for time  (OK, the whole set was me grabbing a couple of snaps whilst visiting the local supermarket ),  I decided to concentrate on the signs rather than general items of interest. This was mainly because I'd have a better chance of spotting them when passing in the car rather than any sort of value-judgement coming into play but I can't really claim to have identified anything really spectacular, mainly trade names above shops. The most frustrating part though was spotting a couple of good ones in Newport the island capital and not having the time to stop and photograph them!

Newport IoW -  The one I did get. Moorman & Sons Upholsterers were mentioned in the London Gazette of January 7th 1898 so they've certainly been around for a bit. Sadly it looks as though at least one of the 'Son's' was a casualty of the First World War as the local memorial records that
Arthur MOORMAN - Son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Moorman, of 48, Orchard St., Newport, Isle of Wight, died whilst on active service with the Isle of Wight Rifles in Egypt 15 Oct 1916. An In Memoriam notice appeared from his parents in the Isle of Wight County Press on 13 Oct 1917.
Freshwater IoW - "Cycles must not be left in the passage..." To be honest it didn't look to be the most inviting place to leave a cycle and you can only wonder if it was a sudden spate of cycle abandonment that caused the local council to finally lose its collective patience. I doubt it's been a problem for a while anyway.

Freshwater IoW - 'Twymans' The lettering on this one is quite modern and could have been painted any time from the 70s onward. It's a bit messy although you can see that there was originally a portrait underneath the lettering and what looks like some tents or houses underneath that. The very bottom of the wall has some new painting for 'Fend Pad'. Obviously its quite a complicated bit of signage and it would be interesting to see a photo of it in its heyday. The Twyman family seem to have been involved in both the building trade and funeral business in Freshwater so judging from the buildings at the bottom of the picture I'd guess this one is more to the building side of things.
Freshwater IoW - This is one of those frustrating signs where only sitting on the roof of the neighbouring building would give you a chance of getting a decent picture.  It's also a bit patchy but seems to read "Meader - Fruiterer, Florist, Greengrocer, Pork Butcher and Sausage Maker" which covers pretty much all the bases.
Freshwater IoW - And finally... a sign completely obliterated that is starting to re-emerge as the paint fails to stick to the old lettering beneath. Hours of patient cross-eyed staring at this particular sign produced the legend   "A. Rutland, Ladies & Gents Hairdresser".

Considering that Freshwater is something of a 'blink and you'd miss it' sort of place I'd say that four signs wasn't a bad haul (well five actually, but as the fifth was totally illegible I didn't bother posting it). Newport definitely has more gems tucked away but that's the way of a flying visit - you're always left ruing the missed ones!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

London Coalhole Cover 'Lost' In Maidstone!

I was in Maidstone, Kent this morning for a bit of a family 'do' when I came across this interesting coalhole cover. I say 'came across' but actually it had been covered with a very heavy A board which I had to grapple to the side before I could get a good look.

'Faded London' has been on tour before and as we are looking at a London foundry - and one I hadn't recorded before - I felt more than justified in adding it to the canon. As you can see it's quite an ornate and interesting design with quite a lot of clues as to the producer

The Hope Foundry Co.
5 Upper Thames Street
London EC 

Despite all the information I haven't had much luck so far in tracing the Hope Foundry and it's not listed in Gillian Cooksey's excellent "Artistry and History Underfoot". There are certainly mentions of the name, such as this one
Hope Foundry Co.
The Hope Foundry and Engineering Co. is recorded as making sad irons at the Hope Works in West Bromwich, c1866. It is possible that there was also a Hope Foundry in Leeds.
but it's more than likely that these were entirely seperate enterprises although I supose I can't rule out the possibility of a London branch. In a trade journal from1870 I also came across the General Iron Foundry Co. oalso based in Upper Thames Street that was apparently selling stoves, mantels, and bronzes but again whether or not this has anything to do the Hope Foundry - whether by using the same site or just by way of a change of name - remains to be seen.  

There were quite a few small-scale local foundaries at the time and I suppose it's more than possible that many weren't that long lived. It could be I've a bit of a rarity here but only time and a bit more research will tell.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Ghost Signs at the Lock

Well it's been a while since I was a 'regular-casual' stall holder at Camden Lock.... about twenty five years as it happens, but for a few years  I regularly spent my weekends at Camden, Covent Garden and the Battersea Arts Centre selling my home-made range of bookends and other band-saw created knick-knackery. The preferred mode of transport was a cheap and cheerful Jawa 350 with a sidecar piled high with the apple-boxes full of bookends I'd spent the week making in my Brixton flat. By using skip recovered wood and other penny-pinching wheezes this process generally provided me with just enough income to make it through the week and the early morning ride up to Camden through Trafalgar Square was a real pick-up after staying up through Saturday nights getting things finished off.

So I was quite looking forward to seeing the old place again after thinking that the children might find it an interesting place to spend a Sunday morning. They did. I did as well as it happens but while some bits like the Electric Ballroom doesn't seem to have changed a bit,  pretty much everything else has developed almost beyond recognition and the site of my old stall - a fairly dingy covered area as I recall it, is now an open-air land of wooden kiosks, railway arches and truncated Lambrettas!. I've a feeling it might have been the site of the fire that cleared the area, but whatever the reason I was looking at the area through fresh eyes...and Faded London eyes at that...
The area is an eclectic mix of old and new and this is a good example of how they exist side-by-side. Anyone whose been down the High Street will know that the modern shops have some spectacular signage (probably enough for their own posting) but this low-key example is covering up what appears to be a butchers shop sign if the words 'CHOPS' and 'SEASON' point to anything

There was an attractive mosaic as well and no points for guessing the pub either

Up near Camden tube station there were a couple of ghost signs easily visible, the most famous of which was undoubtedly this Boots the Chemist sign that I've seen many times on various sites making it a bit of a Ghost-Sign Centrefold. At least I know where it is now.
More interesting to me was this building across the way plastered in ghost sign lettering. Miller, Beale & Hider Ltd.

As you can see the company were glaziers but this particular premises seems to have specialised in ecclesiastic glassware. Presumably doing well out of the Victorian boom in church building but also restoring ancient stained-glass leading and other glass maintenance and cleaning.

There's signage on three of the four sides of the building and the view below gives an idea of how imposing  and visible it must have been in its hayday
One thing that intrigued me though was the the clearly visible signature at  the bottom of the wall with either the name of the artist or, far more likely, the name of the signwriting company. I've another of these signatures and I might well keep an eye open for a few more
Swansboro seems to be the name, or at least part of the name, but any further information could be obscured by the (now) attached building. There's a town called Swansboro in the USA which is no help at all, but a bit of research in old trade directories might be called for here I think.

Well that was that for my Sunday morning Camden visit. I'm sure there are loads more ghost signs in the area and it's such a popular place I doubt many of them have remained unrecorded but as usual its the pleasure in coming across them unexpectedly that's a big part of the fun.