Thursday, 10 April 2008

Shopfront Mosaics

If you want to make a statement about the quality of your shop. you could do a lot worse than doing what the Romans did and putting down a mosaic. It's classy, hard-wearing, immovable, colourful and will be around a lot longer than the shopkeeper who commissioned it!

Here are some attractive examples that have turned up recently

Clapham High Street
The side entrance to a restaurant that retains what looks like the original mosaic floor inside too.
CJW seem to be the initials. Bridge Road, East Molesey
Looking a bit the worse for wear and encroached upon by new shop-fronts, this mosaic is still worth a look.
Worple Road, Raynes Park
Originally a wine merchant but now a chemist.
The Ridgeway, Wimbledon Village SW19 A very attractive entrance to a small block of flats above some shops.
The Pavement, Clapham Common WSD - obviously the initials of the original shopkeeper, but now long-since forgotton Haydons Road SW19
Neither flash, nor particularly attractive, this mosaic still brings a splash of colour to a drab stretch of road

Updated 22-04-08 National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square
OK, so it's not a humble shopfront but the entrance to a national institution, but the temptation to clear away the tourists and to take a quick snap was too great. Besides, nice as it is it's not all that more spectacular than some of the examples above. Well, maybe a touch better maybe....
Updated 11-05-2008 Upper Richmond Road, Putney SW15
This particular mosaic reminds me of some Roman floor being slowly uncovered at Pompeii, except this time it is slowly shrugging off the unwanted attentions of layers of asphalt. If it was me I'd clear it all off in one go and reveal the beast beneath!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Clapham Ghost Signs

These ghost signs were all spotted on a walk down Clapham High Street from Clapham Common Tube Station to Clapham North. Not a bad haul from such a short stretch of road!

Clapham Common South Side (opposite Clapham Common tube)
A bit of over-painting going on here but it looks basically like a 'Provident? Mutual Insurance Society'

The Pavement
Really eye-catching and still colourful after all these years...
Bromell's Road
Tucked down a side-street and proof that you should always look over your shoulder every now and then. 'Batten & Davies', I wonder what they did? Time to get Googling...
Clapham High Street
This one looks as though it has only recently been exposed - probably by the removal of a modern advertising hoarding. Nice colours.
Clapham High Street (by the railway line)
Frustratingly I can't quite make out what this one is saying. It would have been at eye level with the overhead trains though, so well worth the free advertising.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Bits and Pieces, Odds and Ends and slivers of Tat!

I'm starting to build up a collection of photos that neither fit into a 'Guided Tour' or specific collection category. What to do with them? All I can think is to dish them up as a hodge-podge of intriguing glimpses...

Deburgh Road, Colliers Wood
I would guess that the original house on the corner was bombed during the war and a few raised beds planted on the site. What is slightly quirky is that they decided to render the old fireplace and leave it in situ which means you can stand underneath it and look up the flue! Nelson's Garden, High Path, South Wimbledon
One of a couple of small cannon on some of Lord Nelson's old estate in Merton. Not the sort of thing you'd expect to stumble across in that particular area.
Chestnut Grove, Balham
Right next to the station is this imposing pediment on top of a row of houses
Upper Tooting Road/ Balham High Road
I came across this interesting row of redundant pillars which stretches along for a few shops (the ones in the background are now painted red). I assume they must originally have held up a balcony or some sort of gallery over the shop front and it's intriguing that they have remained when what they held up has been removed.
Upper Tooting Road
The door to nowhere. Some do say that if you took a running jump at it you'll pass through to a mysterious realm of fantasy on the other side. Or possibly someones kitchen...
Off Putney Bridge Road SW15
I spotted these sphinxes up on the roofs of a row of houses. This is as close a picture I could manage but the overall effect is odd, almost as though the builder had a job lot and needed to get rid of them Everywhere there's a prominent vantage point, they stuck on a sphinx.
It's a little like being watched by a flock of small vultures.
Upper Richmond Road SW15
Right in the middle of a standard column, someone had taken the trouble to clean up a single tile. What had been boring was suddenly just that bit more interesting!
Bentall Centre, Kingston
Bentall's used to have it's own post boxes built into the walls, but these have now been sealed and fallen into disuse. Marked with GRV these date it to the reign of George V who died in 1936. The building itself was finished in 1935.
Bridge Road, East Molesey
A really attractive and unusual door handle on a local antiques shop.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Horse and Cattle Troughs and Drinking Fountains

Every now and then I have come across old granite horse troughs that have long outlived their original purpose but which usually have an interesting inscription behind them. Most of them are now glorified flower-beds but originally they served the philanthropic purpose of providing clean drinking water both for the local residents and for the assorted animals of London. The story of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association is an interesting one and I was surprised to read that they are still in existence - albeit in a much reduced form. I expect I'll be adding to this one over the years but here are a few that I've come across recently

Trinity Road SW18
Very close to Wandsworth Prison, this Drinking Trough is full of earth, but no plants, and has been incorporated into the wall outside a pub

Wimbledon Common, Parkside Avenue SW9
This is the only example I've come across so far that is still being used for it's original purpose in that it is still full of water (and leaves!). I would guess this is because the common still has a couple of riding schools that use it as well as the mounted Park Rangers. The splendid drinking fountain behind it though has long since fallen into disuse
I would guess that there would have been cups for the drinkers and the steps are for the younger and smaller Wimbledonians to use and maybe even the odd Womble or two. Dogs had their own drinking space underneath. Each of the sides has a typical Biblical quote with a Temperance message but the dedication inscription on the front edge says it was provided by Robt. Hanbury Esq. MP.
Mitcham Cricket Green, CR4
This trough is situated on a very busy crossroads opposite the Burn Bullock pub so it was impossible to get a photograph of the inscription on the far side which, if I remember correctly, commemorated Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

Roehampton High Street
I think this fountain might pre-date the Metropolitan Cattle Trough Association. It's certainly a different style with some very svelte low-slung horse troughs each side of this imposing drinks fountain - so low-slung that they are not immediately obvious in the picture below and I bet more than one little kid went paddling on a hot summers day in the horse water! There were no inscriptions (other than for the local Putney manufacturer, so no obvious temperance links for this oneThis is the only side with the original fountain-head still intact. On the whole it's in very good condition - something I put down to being a traffic island in a busy road!

Wimbledon Common - The Windmill
The second trough on Wimbledon Common but this one is still fully-functional. Horses use it, Dogs drink underneath and humans have their own fountain next to it (the cup on a chain has long-since departed). The date of installation seems to be 1887.
This is the artistic shot - a sad attempt to include the windmill with the sun in my eyes!St Lawrence Church, London Road SM4
Three for one at this trough - horses on top, dogs beneath and humans at the end. Like the one above this was placed near a tavern in order to provide a temperance option for thirsty travelers. This one was erected in memory of all the horses that suffered in the South African (Boer) War

Clapham Common - Near 'Old Town'
Well this one is quite some piece of sculpture - very dramatic in a Victorian biblical fashion. Not working of course but in a very prominent position nontheless
This is a close-up of the dedication plaque with a typical temperance link from the donors. I'm sure I recall a horse trough on Clapham Common somewhere so I hope to find that soon.And finally... nothing to do with the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association, but fun anyway this one of two troughs to be found bordering
Merton High Street SW19
Commissioned by the High Path Tenants Association to celebrate the millennium, these are not Horse Troughs masquerading as flower containers, but rather flower containers masquerading as Horse Troughs! Concrete rather than granite but they deserve a place nonetheless.

Tooting Ghost Signs

All of these ghost signs were spotted on Mitcham Road, Tooting between Tooting railway station and Tooting Broadway Underground.

Tooting Railway Station
I had just walked down Longley Road Tooting where I had stumbled over 'Music Hall Artiste' Harry Lauder's house with it's blue plaque (and if you follow the link, click on the picture of the house for some interesting photos and documentation about the blue plaque ceremony) and was still in Longley Road when I caught sight of this sign next to the station. I took a couple of pictures because I wanted to show it in context as well as close-up. Obviously over-painted it seems to say Gorringe Park - Hire, Sale or Exchange - ??? and Repairs

This is from as close as I could get

..and this is from the other side of the street
Mitcham Road, Tooting
Partly obscured this looks to be a fairly standard design for Players Navy Cut cigarettes (going on the evidence of the following sign anyway). The red seems to be over-painting that has itself faded away allowing the original sign to show through again.
Mitcham Road, Tooting
Just a little further on, right next to the library, is another Players Navy Cut Tobbaco sign, slightly clearer and with less over-painting this time. Looks as though it might have been preserved by later advertising hoardings if the black paint at the bottom is any indication. Very similar design to the earlier one though.

Mitcham Road, Tooting
Up near the tube station is a nightclub/bar called the 'Bar 2 Far' but in an earlier life
probably better known as the 'Horse and Groom' or the 'Horse and Hounds' . Anyway, there was definitely a horse in there somewhere...And finally, as I went round the corner from the tube to catch a bus back to South Wimbledon, there across the road....

Garratt Terrace
I believe that I've already documented this one from an earlier walk but sometimes it's nice to have a little seconds and I didn't have the heart to ignore it.