Thursday, 16 September 2010

Ghost Signs of Bath - Part 1 (Faded London on Tour 2010)

As promised some time back, I've finally found some time to post up some of the ghost signs I spotted whilst spending a couple of days in Bath in mid August.  And I have to emphasise 'some' here, because it seems to me that Bath is a city bursting with ghost signs of varied types and for a city whose prosperity relies on its history and it's architecture, I suspect there might be a reluctance to remove them, just in case in another 50 years they might be tourist attractions in their own right!
Everyone else in the parade has had a bit of a spruce up, so could that explain the survival of this old store sign?
As though to emphasise the abundance of ghost signs, this particular clutch were all spotted as we were actually leaving Bath on the London Road and heading out toward the motorway. A quick detour to find a parking bay on a housing estate and I was off with the camera for a happy ten minutes.
The current owners not only seem happy with the old signage but have actually named their shop 'The Old Pet Shop'. They're all designers though so I expect it fits in quite nicely with their ethos...
This one's on the corner of Cleveland Place Way, approaching the river
I realise this doesn't look particularly exciting but if you click on the picture and zoom in on the brickwork you can still make out tantalising glimpses of some quite elaborate lettering.
Maybe a bit of a close up might help a little
On the London Road, Just by Cleveland Cottages
This is quite a prominent building on a very visible stretch of road. I believe it was originally a dairy which accounts for the very nice Nestle sign which is still quite visible.
Definitely worth a bit of a close up to savour its nuances, I believe it reads Nestles (Swiss)Milk Richest in Cream Sold [by] H.J.Archard You can still make out some of the blue but sadly the red Swiss flag looks a bit washed out.
Several layers of lettering make the front of the building difficult to decipher but you can still make out the word Dairy at the bottom, which is a bit of a clue!
Best of luck with this one. Lots of very intriguing traces though.
Just off the A4 London Road - looks as though it might have been painted over at some point
I had to stop the car for a second time to photograph  this one. Looks as though the local reverence for the ghost sign includes old garages as well and they certainly carried out a decent range of services.

That's all for the leaving of Bath. Part 2 of this look at  Bath ghost signs will concentrate on the historic and tourist heart of the city and, I'm sure, only scratch the surface of what's out there!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A Brick Lane Coalhole... OR IS IT???

Or is it indeed....! I was visiting the Brick Lane area a couple of weeks ago and of course had half an eye out for anything of interest that might take its fancy. As it happened, just by the mosque, something did - a very unusual coal-hole which when viewed from one side didn't seem to make much sense, but if you took the trouble to walk around it - voila! a perfect little planet Earth in miniature
 All the World's a Coalhole! - Brick Lane
I couldn't help but be more than a little suspicious though. It was the right size for a coal-hole, it was the right shape for a coal-hole, it was even in the right place for a coal-hole but to be honest it looked a bit too arty to be a coal-hole. Certainly none of that symmetrical 'design made on a wheel' look about it that's typical of the true ironmongers coal-hole.

There was nothing else around to give any clues as to what else it might be though, so I had to wait until I was home to find out what it was I'd actually stumbled over.

What I found after a bit of searching was that it wasn't a coal-hole but something called a 'Spitalfields Roundel', one of a series of 25 individual images by local artist Keith Bowler that were created and placed as the result of the Bethnal Green City Challenge in 1995. This was a five year regeneration project for the Bethnal Green area and the roundels were one aspect of much of the work that took place in the area. The roundels were cast in iron locally and depicted scenes and images of importance locally. The globe outside the mosque was there to signify the historic  importance of immigration to the area

The 'Know Your London' website has lots more information on them including some nice sepia photographs. One thing that I did wonder and which wasn't clear on the website, was whether these roundels were sited in existing coal-holes or were they in effect plaques embedded in concrete? What I also find quite surprising and a little sad is that of the 25 roundels put in place in 1995, only 12 are still known to be in existence. Presumably the others have fallen victim to pavement repairs or rebuilding and their fate is not known. With 13 gone within 15 years you'd better get looking quick if you want to see any of the rest!