Sunday, 12 July 2009

From Hammersmith to the 'Bush & back

I haven't been out and about north of the river as much as I ought, so finding myself with a rare free afternoon one Saturday I set off for Hammersmith with intention of having an enjoyable walk up to Shepherds Bush and back. Which is what it proved to be.

This is pretty much the route taken, straight up to Shepherds Bush,along Uxbridge Road then down a back street to meet up with Goldhawk Road and back to the Bush again

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Not a particularly long walk or all that adventurous really, but there was plenty of interest along the way, starting off with this bit of ironwork
Shepherds Bush Road, Hammersmith
It's the sort of iron scroll-work that's hidden in the folds of an old building integrated into a more modern design, but certainly adds a bit of class. Worth finding a spot in the middle of a traffic island for anyway.
Hammersmith Palais, Shepherds Bush Road
The Palais has seen better days, as this battered date sign suggests. In fact it's ready for demolition and had I but known it there is an original 'ghost sign' at the rear overlooking the railway lines. Despite the date here, the Wikipedia article has it opening in 1919.

I was a bit surprised that nothing much more caught my eye up until I reached Shepherds Bush itself, although I did find a few more interesting pits and pieces on the return journey. Still, my patience was rewarded when I went poking around the O2 Theatre on the Bush and found this fascinating sign hidden down the side.
Shepherds Bush Green
"Cinematograph Theatre Continuous Performance seats 1/- 6d & 3d" Well you could hardly call it a Faded Sign but I can only assume that when it was built this side alley was a bit more lively and worthy of such a sign. I don't think they'd bother today...
Wood Lane, Shepherds Bush
The first of the afternoons true ghost signs this one looks as though it was originally a garage. I can't quite make out the writing below - 'Outfit' maybe?
Uxbridge Road Turning to the left and heading down the Uxbridge Road, there are some retail units and restaurants in what seem to have been old offices of the London County Council. That was abolished in 1965 but the old signage has clung on, just about...
Shepherds Bush Library, Uxbridge Road
I was very impressed with this chimney-brace come date-plaque. I can't recall seeing one like it and on the whole I'd have to say that it's very impressive.
The library itself has a number of ornate scrolled plaques commemorating its benefactors - this particular one celebrates Leigh Hunt and Thomas Keene. I'd be interested in knowing more about the connection these two have with the library. Leigh Hunt seems to have been a fascinating character, but for the most part poverty stricken, dying just across the river in Putney in 1859. Charles Keene was an artist, specialising in black and white illustrations and etchings who died in 1891. With 32 years between their deaths it's strange that they should be remembered together. Could it be they were friends of the library's founder, John Passmore Evans? He was a journalist and newspaper owner so might well have know of the work of the two and decided they were worth remembering.
Uxbridge Road Another ghost sign and again pretty faint. Could that be 'Allinsons' or 'Allen & Son'? Either way, there's not much else to be seen.
Oh come on now, what is it with this place? A third Ghost sign, potentially the best of the bunch and it's so tantalisingly faint you can hardly make out what it was!
Of course once your eyes focus in what we have here is a Players Navy Cigarette sign,

Originally in various shades of blues and whites with a Jolly Jack Tar peeping out the middle of a life-belt this once impressive sign has faded away to almost nothing. I think I'm about thirty years too late on this one.

Telephone Exchange, Uxbridge Road. This strikes me as being fairly typical of the straight-forwardelements found in telephone exchanges. 'Modern' buildings with a nod to the classical, in this case the staff and serpent symbol known as the Caduceus, carried by the Greek God Hermes and then later on the Roman God Mercury, after he retired. I'm sure you wouldn't confuse this sign with the medical Rod of Asclepius although it's not an uncommon error even though the medical sign just has one snake and no wings. Personally I suspect it's been appropriated because of its symmetry and more pleasing aesthetics but there you go...
Uxbridge Road I'm not only drawn to this one because of its obvious age, slightly faded grandeur and classically-cracked masonry, but also because of the the anti-pigeon net lends it an air of Ena Sharples-ness (although to be fair it doesn't show up too clearly on the photo)
Uxbridge Road And finally on the Uxbridge Road, an interesting example of a Haywards Lightwell. Interesting (well to me anyway, I don't expect many others to be leaping up and down with excitement) because it looks as though it's hinged with four handles ('Fork 'andles?') set into the middle. As the glass was prismatic and thus fairly deep, I'd of thought it would have made such an entrance unfeasible, but apparently not. I wonder when it was opened last though? Having the new shop-front projecting over one edge couldn't help much.
Conningham Road The first of a couple of nice coal-holes, this one was just up someone's garden path, which always poses a bit of a dilemma. Is it acceptable to open a gate, take a step in and photograph someone's coal-hole or should I knock on the door and go through a very convoluted explanation as to exactly what I'd like to do and why I'd like to do it? Very tricky. If the gate is open and it's obviously multi-occupancy then I tend to pop in for a quickie. If it's a family home and the gate is closed then I pass on by swiftly and try to put it out of my mind as quickly as possible. Luckily this one was one of the former...
The 1901 census only shows one Selden who was an Ironmonger in London and that was Alfred born in in 1859. On that basis I think it's probably a reasonable assumption that these photos are of the son in 'Selden & Son', later to die in the Great War.

Conningham Road Not quite as attractive, but still with a vibrant, mannish swagger about it, an example from further down by John Harvey, New Road, Circus Street which is slightly confusing. A bit of searching shows a Circus Street New Road in Marylebone and the 1901 census does show a John H. Harvey, Shopkeeper, in the area but it doesn't specify his shop (i.e. ironmonger). One for a bit more research I think.
Goldhawk Road - This shop caught my eye as it seemed to be squeezed between to older and more established buildings. Not only was it freakishly slim but the air of surreality was added to by a suspended bowler hat. I say 'shop' because there was no indication as to name, trade or profession, just a bowler hat gathering dust. Very mysterious...
Goldhawk Road Just along from the shop was a nice example of Old and New in the shape of a bell-pull and an entryphone. Definitely not a button, the bell-pull had been painted over so many times it was almost like it had been polyfillered.
Goldhawk Road (possibly Godolphin Road)- In amongst the usual modern shop fronts I found this remnant of an earlier era, tucked around the side. Bransdon are still recorded as being newsagents based on the Goldhawk Road but I guess the flakey old sign can't compete with the lure of modern, shiny, yellow plastic.
Goldhawk Road - Well here's an interesting adaptation! A couple of cows heads above a restaurant. I assume they are fibre-glass and stuck over the original pediment but very eye-catching it must be said.
Goldhawk Road (Lime Grove) - Next to a railway station, there's no prizes for guessing that this once advertised W.H. Smith & Son, although they seem to be long gone.
Goldhawk Road - Although fronted by a mini-supermarket, Goldhawk House was obviously one of the grander buildings on Goldhawk Road, several stories high and capped off with this solid, dated section.
If the sign on the side of the building is anything to go by it was a builders supplier but it seems too grand an effort for that, so possibly this refers to later occupants. It has the air of an institution about it though, so maybe it was a working man's self-improvement society or something.
Goldhawk Road - Just before Shepherds Bush there's a row of not particularly special or spectacular buildings but they are summounted by one of the most emphatic date plaques in town. No chance of missing that one!
Shepherds Bush Road - Heading back toward Hammersmith now and on the left was a typically 30s design of flats, the sort that you can take for granted very easily but when you take the time to actually have a look... well it started to seem a lot more interesting. It's a nice large entrance that almost qualifies as 'grand'
Shepherds Bush Road - This one caught my eye because it seemed at first to be a midget coal-hole. Quite a nice design, but miles too small to be of any use. Then you notice that only the inner part of the design has emerged from the cement filler. Give it another twenty years and I might be able to see who manufactured it!
Netherwood Lane - Not a blue plaque, but a red one, obviously put up by a local history group or a special interest society. This red plaque commemorates Irish Nationalist leader Michael Collins and is presumably either from when he worked for the Post Office or with the firm Horne & Co.
Lakeside Road - For some reason I had strayed around some of the backstreets and was intrigued to find this geometric design above a very 'modernist' looking window. It has a 'significant' look about it but it's totally new to me. Is it a classical allusion or just a company logo?
Lakeside Road - Turning back down Lakeside Road I could just make out the remains of an occupational 'ghost sign' on the wall above me. It looks as though this was once the home of a Boot-Makers & Repairers.
Shepherds Bush Road - Back on the main road again and there was my last coalhoal. A fairly standard design but a new manufacturer to me R, H. & J. Pearson, Notting Hill Gate. Jonathan Pearson, ironmonger, held the lease on No.7 High Street, Notting Hill Gate in 1878–9 so might well be our manufacturer.
Brook Green - I wonder what came first, the eagle or the name? It's always nice to see an animal statue or two but I wonder if they have any effect on the local pigeons?
Shepherds Bush Library - Shepherds Bush Road "This building was the gift of Andrew Carnegie 1905" Mind you it wasn't the only one. Andrew Carnegie, reckoned to have been the second richest man of all time, was self-educated and spent much of his money on founding libraries around the world so that others could benefit in the same way he did.
And finally, to round it all off
Hammersmith Road - As well a splendid weathervane (which I'll be adding to the collection) this building has had its (presumably) original date carefully painted around over the years. I was wondering if there had originally been some other text that accompanied it, but for now it's a thoughtful act of the owners to preserve this small snippet of history.
So that's about it. Three main roads that didn't start off too lively but certainly picked up as I went along. Ghost signs, lightwells, coalholes and some interesting plaques and buildings so a couple of hours well spent.


Sebastien Ardouin said...

Great finds! Looking at the pictures I took of the different ghost signs in the area, here is what I could read:
- Wood Lane: "Garage / 50 yards (with an arrow pointing towards the right) / Duffitt & Gri..."
- Uxbridge Road: "Allam & Sons" The sign covered the whole wall, even though the lines immediately underneath the name have badly faded. I haven't worked on the picture yet but I'm hoping a few tweaks in Photoshop will reveal something. I'll let you know...
- Uxbridge Road: the Players Navy Cigarette sign is really a lovely one. Prices are painted on the upper left and lower right corners: "10 for 6d" and "20 for 11 1/2d"
There are at least two more ghost signs between Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith, on Sulgrave Rd and Beadon Rd.
I shall be looking forward to the next post!

Wellwynder said...

A nice little haul from that stroll. The Navy Cut sign must have been a real beauty in its day. And I love the one at the Cinematograph. Maybe that alley was where people queued, so the sign was encouraging them to have the right change ready.

Jane said...

All brilliant stuff as usual,
I really love that Navy Cut ghost sign... I'm a bit miffed that I have never noticed that one seeing as I have been up and down the Uxbridge Road on buses so many times over the years and I have photos of most of the rest you have taken on this walk... I would assume the Navy Cut sign faces the sun and that's why it's bleached out(?)
Re that residential block on Shep Bush Rd, it's called The Grampians. I love it; my friends used to live on the 5th floor and the views of the sunset were wonderful.
I can't think which signs Sebastien is talking about (poss the Brymay sign and the estate agent's sign?) but you missed this one:
And that skinny shop/home is amazing:

Yelfy said...

Thanks for all your help on the ghost signs and I must say that I'm in awe of both Sebastien's eyesight and Photoshop skills as well as Jane's encyclopaedic collection of photo's! However I'm really bemused as to how I missed the Bryant and May one though as after seeing the Cinematograph sign I made a point of looking down the sides of those Theatre buildings. I wonder if it has been bill-boarded over since you took your picture Jane? Still, it's an interesting area - I also took in a school fete, the market, met some old friends and went for a drink whilst there so all in all it really was an enjoyable way of spending an afternoon.

Anonymous said...

there's plenty more here - and I've just donw a series of them here

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Just want to say, I absolutely love your blog.

I walked around for years not really looking at and listen to London. In recent times, I've become a lot more aware, and had my eyes more open to it's history; not just the obvious history, but the little, heartbreaking things; the type of things you focus on in this blog. And I'm going to be doing a little video project about it, and I found your blog at the perfect time.

GREAT WORK! Keep doing what you're doing, it's important. Pretty soon, all we'll have to remember these places, are things like your blog. Thanks.

Jane said...

Be careful The Kid... once you start this you can't stop... your friends will start get annoyed when walking a long a street you butt in mid-sentence with something irrelevant about a faded sign or an old bit of twisted ironmongery across the road!

And great blog shepherdsbush.

Yelfy, I am sure that Brymay sign is still there as it was a few months back and can be found on google streetview, though I don't know when they took the footage. It's on the side of the Bush Theatre easily seen as you queue up to go in the Empire. And I am glad to see that I am not the only person championing the use(age) of the word 'whilst'. The pedant in me gets in a right old lather when I see 'while' used instead... aaargh!

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Hi Yelfy,
I finally decided to start a blog about painted signs and mosaics. With about 600 of them so far, it should keep going for a while... I am sure you'll recognize quite a few. The address is:
I shall be looking forward to your next post.

rachel crookes said...

Brilliant post.

There's a great ghost sign on Cathnor road, which I'll send you a pic of and post on my blog and track back to yours.

Yelfy said...

Kid - It's also worth noting that sooner or later you'll get a nasty crick in your neck! Good luck with the video project and let us know if it ever ends up on YouTube.
Jane - Well if the Bryman sign is still there it just goes to show how you can sometimes miss an elephant in an empty room! Good job others are on the ball...
Sebastien - Good luck with the blog. I enjoyed the first couple of posts and will add it as a link on here if that's ok. As you say, with 600 pictures you shouldn't be stuck for something to post about!

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Hi Yelfy,
Feel free to add a link indeed. If you don't mind I'll do the same once I have figured out how to get the right-hand side of the page to work properly. As you have probably noticed I am entirely new to blogging and I still have a few problems with the formatting / spacing between paragraphs and objects.
Looking forward to the post about Longley Rd.

Vincent said...

I love this blog, I used to do the same in my hometown, Brussels, Belgium, some 20 years ago.
this one in Sheperds Bush is lovely

keep up the good work
Vincent http://www.LELEUX.COM

Anonymous said...

What a marvellous blog ! I ama lifelong Bushbaby, and have always had affection for many of the places you have photographed.

The cows head on Goldhawk rd is actually NOT a fibreglass or a modern addition. The site used to be a butchers of distinction, where the slaughter of animals was allowed, the cows heads being decorative of purpose. For many years now the site has been reclaimed and is an exceedingly good vegetarian restaurant! ( called Blah blah blah).

I always liked the story, one nil to the carrots eh?

Anonymous said...

The very thin shop on Goldhawk Road is actually a private house these days, which has been quite extended and was featured in the Sunday Times (I think) when it was for sale a couple of years ago. Its owners have always made a feature of the shop window, which I have always very much enjoyed.

Alex Reid said...

The thin house (second thinnest in the capital) was owned by Photographer Jurgen Teller for 14 years and used to be a hat shop previously.

Anonymous said...

The thin house (second thinnest in the capital) was owned by Photographer Jurgen Teller for 14 years and used to be a hat shop previously.

Ellejay said...

Regarding the Selden's coal hole cover in Coningham Road, Selden's had quite a large ironmongers shop on the corner of Dalling Road and King Street - this is the link to Google street view -

The shop was there at least until the late 1960s, possibly longer. On the street view, you'll notice two blue signs for Selden's corner. I don't recall those signs being there in the 1960s, but in those days I didn't take much notice of things like that :)

Anonymous said...

Goldhawk House can be seen in the 1979 film "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square". Just been watching it on BBC iPlayer. At about 55 minutes in two characters have a long chat at the river in Twickenham, near the bridge to Ell Pie Island, then have a drink in the Barmy Arms. After that they drive off and there is a good shot of Goldhawk House with a banner saying "West London's Finest Showrooms" - bathrooms, kitchens, building suppliers.


The LCC building on Pennard Road is marked as a FIRE STATION on a 1916 OS map.

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