Wednesday, 31 October 2007


'Capitals? Capital cities? Capital letters? What's this all about then?' Well capitals are those fancy bits of design that sit on top of pillars and they also happen to provide what I think are some of the most interesting and distinctive features of decoration on Victorian shop fronts. I assume most of them were moulded but the sheer variety of designs is quite fascinating and it would be interesting to know if manufacturers had pattern books that builders would go along and select from.

There are a smattering of examples in this post but I'm sure I'll be having regular updates over the coming months!

Putney High Street SW15 How about this for an eye-catcher! There are about ten of these in a row, all different, near the Spotted Horse pub in Putney High Street. Who they are and who they depict I couldn't say but they are amongst my favourites of the type.
Wimbledon High Street SW19 There are a series of these capitals with human faces all along the 'expensive' side of Wimbledon High Street (OK, it's all expensive, but one side is a row of adapted working men's cottages and the other is ostentatious bank and other prestigious real estate!). There must be about ten in all, each with a different face.
The Ridgeway SW19 A solid design with an imposing sceptre or urn on top.
Balham High Road Another of those designs that features a human face, this one with a split front.
Wimbledon Broadway SW19 A nice floral touch and although it looks a bit dark and gloomy and is being squeezed on all sides, not a bad design...
Felsham Road SW15 I like the overall design of this one. Very easy on the eye...
Wimbledon Broadway SW19 What I like about this one is its stubborn refusal to be hidden away. Despite being boxed in by modern cladding it still sticks its head above the surface like a non-swimmer just going out of their depth!
Tooting High Street Quite an unusual example and I can't help but wonder if anything was originally painted on the shield?

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Coalholes, Manholes, Lightwells and Drains

This is a section for all those wonderful lumps of ironmongery that we spend all our time walking over without really taking the time to look a little closer. Just walk ten yards down any street and marvel at the variety of lids you pass by... there's a whole new world under there!

Luckily I'm not the only one who finds them interesting as can be seen by these photos and the text that puts them in their historical context. Although he travels the world on this Ruavista site it seems London was the main birthplace of the industrial manhole cover, although Japan seems to have the most striking modern examples. Well, now that you're up to speed on the whole topic have a look at some local lids

Church Road SW19 Originally this was probably a coal hole that also let some light in. Now there's no coal and it leaks whenever it rains! No markings sadly...
Wimbledon High Street SW19 'Globe Foundry Ltd. Battersea'
Church Road SW19 A 'Marlborough' from the "Improved Pavement Light Co. Ltd."London Road SM4 A 'Rapid 40 Slideout'Wimbledon Chase Woodrow's Civic
Wimbledon High Street SW19 Improved Patent Safety Plate
Wimbledon High Street SW19 Aspinall and Fenton, London
Wimbledon High Street SW19 Haywards Patent Self Locking Plate, Borough, London

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Plymouth Ghost signs

The Barbican is the road that runs alongside Sutton Harbour, Plymouth (click here for location)

I know, this is a Faded London blog but honestly do you expect me to pass by the chance to snap a ghost sign or two if I come across them on holiday? These two were on the same building in Plymouth, Devon so I thought I'd try to sneak them in without anyone noticing...

This is one of those signs that has had several messages painted on it over the years, making it a little tricky trying to work out what the original was.

No mistaking what this one on the side is advertising though

Makes a change from the usual family snaps!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Raynes Park

A map of the area around Raynes Park can be seen here

Raynes Park is another of those areas that really came of age when the railway arrived. Although there was no doubt a hamlet here beforehand, the older buildings all seem to date from around 1900 and although neither large nor spectacular, there were a couple of interesting things to see.

Amity Grove This building really stops you in your tracks! It consists of three entrances, of which this is the middle one and all are equally ornate and seem to be a fan's homage to William Shakespeare. The tiles read "A.L. 1885 Shakespeare Villas". Although I'm concentrating on some of the details, the overall effect is really eye catching and obviously built by a true fan.

I don't recall seeing such an attractive cluster of chimney pots in one place so far on my travels...

...and to cap it all, in the porch there's another bust of the man himself!

Coombe Lane & Worple Street A fine weather vane on top of a quite ornate spire. Has to be the local pub, doesn't it?

Kingston Road Now above a Church of England regional administrative office this clock is starting to look a bit worse for wear. I wonder if it was fitted into an existing window frame?

Kingston Road & Dorien Road This is a bit of a mystery. A fairly bog standard shop in a Victorian terrace but with ornate (if more than a little tatty) windows and frames to the front and side. Does anyone have any idea what it used to be? The only thing that crosses my mind is that it was possibly a small public house that couldn't compete with the Junction Tavern over the road but I suppose it could have been a picture house or some sort of temple or place of worship. It certainly sticks out from the crowd.

Kingston Road I liked the interesting blend of colours on theses porch tiles that seemed to be repeated along the terrace
Worple Road Now a chemist shop, the original owners name is still proudly picked out in mosaic

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Tooting and Balham ' Ghost Signs'

(This walk followed the Northern Line Underground route for about for stops as you can see on this map)

These Ghost Signs were all spotted on a walk that took me from Colliers Wood to Balham, a distance of a few miles that took me through what were Victorian suburbs. It was pretty much a mixed bag, from the gleaming to the painted-over - with more of the latter sadly! But here we go...
Tooting High Street SW17
I had decided not to photograph this one on the way out, as I couldn't read what was under the paint. From the other side of the road on the way home however I could just make out the words 'Safety Razor' on the right hand side, so in it went!
Tooting High Street SW17 This is my smallest ghost sign so far - tucked down a dead-end alley between the two Tooting Markets. Could that be Pantelli Hairdressing Salon?

Balham High Road SW12 No mistaking this Hovis sign although it's obviously not the only sign on this site over the years
Balham High Road SW12 Well you'd have to be a bit optimistic to make out much of this one. I had a notion that it was something financial like insurance or something, but the 'Furnish' on the right hand side has me foxed a bit.

Junction of Noyna Road and Upper Tooting Road SW17 I think this is without doubt the find of the day, still above the chemist that I assume has been there for decades. I'd certainly be persuaded by this to buy a bottle of Nettle's Pick-Me-Up. Who wouldn't?

Upper Tooting Road SW17 'John Perring' seems to be the name but what did he do...'Por??'
Junction of Garrett Terrace and Tooting High Street As is often the case this site has been over painted a couple of times and it's all starting to merge a bit. 'Gardiners' is the easiest word to make out here although 'Stores' and 'Millinery' look possible as well...

Junction of Hotham Road and Merton High Street SW19 Not at all clear these days but if you look closely you can see that this was once an advert for Hovis bread

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Wimbledon Chase

A map of the area can be found here

Wimbledon Chase is an area I would have imagined growing up around the railway station at the turn of the last century. It was probably quite a genteel area at first, with some fine shops, nice houses and an ideal site for the new Nelson Hospital, which had outgrown its original site in Wimbledon. It's still pretty genteel, although the area just past the railway is a little more run down these days. I started off one evening walking between the two railway lines as can be seen on the map above.
Junction of Kingswood Road and Wilton Grove What a combination of features to kick the tour off with! This is a combination of what I assume to be a sewer ventilation/pressure release stack, electric lights of the same vintage as those found in South Wimbledon (1901 and if they were listed why not these?) and what looks like the original fittings for the road signs (I can't imagine they've not been repainted in the not too distant past!). Quite easy to overlook s the whole set acts as a roundabout. Very nice though...

Kingston Road It's always a pleasure to stumble across a building with a bit of history, even if it does look pretty unprepossessing from the front. I think the plaque speaks for itself
Kingston Road A nice brick dating plaque on the side of a restaurantOpposite Nelson Hospital, Kingston Road There's a very attractive block of shops and flats in a very distinctive red brick just opposite the Hospital with attractive chimneys, weather vanes and towers. The elegance still seems to affect the shops which are mostly quite characterful themselves. Here's a few of the more attractive features.
Here's a chimney stack that's slightly more interesting than most in the area

There's a tower at the two corners on the road but only one retains its pennant, and this one looks a little lop-sided

Nice ornate date plaque in red brick I haven't seen many drainpipe brackets stamped with the date of construction before. Many were still intact but I thought this one was more interesting.
Kingston Road This was one of the original ventilation grills spotted just underneath a shop window
Nelson Hospital, Kingston Road The Nelson Hospital moved a mile or so down the road when it outgrew its original site on the broadway and has a series of dedication plagues. Yhis one faces the main road and can be easily seen when you're walking along.
Nelson Hospital, Kingston Road Nine years later they extended it as can be seen from this plaqueKingston Road SW19 Just by the Nelson Hospital is a very popular Italian deli which has been there for some years. Luckily they decided not to paint over or replace the previous shops tiles so you can still see that it was originally a butchers. Thumbs up to the deli!
Kingston Road SW19 Tucked away to the side was this rather attractive mirror which has suffered a bit with the attention of what looks like a ventilation unit

Monday, 8 October 2007

Faded Signs

This collection consists of old signs whose message has long since been ignored or is no longer relevant. Just legible before the last peel of paint crumbles to the floor they are usually on old properties or derelict back streets parking spaces. (to be updated as new old signs are spotted!)

Bedford Hill, Balham This sign was tucked away in a small yard just off the street.
Wimbledon Chase Railway Station SW19 There was obviously a problem with commuters dropping people off in an inconvenient manner. This would have scared them off though!

Morden Road SM4 -GP's car park opposite Morden Hall Park

Pincott Road SW19 No organised games, but presumably disorganised ones are ok...?
Deen City Farm OK, so this one is brand new but it's still an attractive hand-made effort. I'll go back in a couple of years and see how it's fared...