Friday, 30 November 2018

A week in the Peak District: a quick wander around Wirksworth, Derbyshire

Over the summer, one of our wonderful staycations was in Derbyshire. I have quite a few pictures to share from the various wanderings so will split them into a handful of shorter blog posts rather than one long one. Let's start with Wirksworth, which was the nearest town to where we were staying. Small enough to have some soul to it, large enough to have some great bars and restaurants, and pleasing that it had a few ghost signs and old signs to reveal. Unfortunately a couple of these were quite weathered so I was not able to decipher them.

This first one however was readable

WIRKSWORTH & DISTRICT CO OPERATIVE SOCIETY LIMITED  

Ghost sign, Wirksworth, Derbyshire
Ghost sign, Wirksworth, Derbyshire

I'm sure this next ghost sign would have been stunning in its time, but time has taken its toll and it's hard to make out anything other than a few letters, and searching through the internet didn't show anything either. If anyone knows more I'd love to find out.

Ghost sign, Wirksworth, Derbyshire
Ghost sign, Wirksworth, Derbyshire


Less ghostly, but more readable, is this wonderful pre-Warboys sign.

Pre-Warboys sign, Wirksworth, Derbyshire
Pre-Warboys sign, Wirksworth, Derbyshire

It wasn't until I blew this picture up on the PC that I noticed it had more to it than initially caught my eye. As well as the lettering starting WIN between the rows of windows, there are also the letters SWORN just in the shadow of where the roof hangs over the wall, and there's a middle line ending in SER. However I am none the wise as to what the complete sign may have read. Any clues?

Ghost sign, Wirksworth, Derbyshire
Ghost sign, Wirksworth, Derbyshire

And of course, no trip to Wirksworth would be complete without a few pictures of the heritage railway. However, it would seem these have mysteriously vanished from my phone.

    

Saturday, 24 November 2018

An urban and rural wander around Oxford

I don't seem to have found time to blog over the past few months. My spare time has been taken up with bike rides, and over the wonderful summer it seemed criminal to lock myself away with the laptop instead of being outside enjoying the great outdoors. However, now that we seem to be firmly in the grip of late autumn, with dark evenings and drizzle, I can justify sitting at home over a hot keyboard and catch up with posting some of my psychogeographical outings from the past few months, as I drifted through town and country, sometimes with a plan in mind, other times just happy to wander. But where shall we go first? How about Oxford … and let's begin with a wonderful doorway mosaic.

Doorway mosaic, Oxford
Doorway mosaic, Turl Street, Oxford

I must confess I've never been punting, but it is on the "to do" list. It does however always bring up a slightly sinister image that I remember from either Inspector Morse or Lewis.

Punts on the River Cherwell, Oxford
Punts on the River Cherwell, Oxford

Wandering along the Cowley Road in Oxford is almost always a pleasure. Whether it's to rummage through the charity shops or crate dig in Truck Records, to have lunch in an independent café or to go to a gig at the O2 academy, there is always something new to catch the eye regardless of how many time I walk along it. This next photo is a perfect example of something I must have walked past tens of times but only noticed it on this visit. This old sign for R.A.NEVILLE, Dispensing Chemist is thankfully still preserved above what is now, I think, a restaurant.

Old sign for R.A.Neville, Dispensing Chemist, Cowley Road, Oxford
Old sign for R.A.Neville, Dispensing Chemist, Cowley Road, Oxford


As with most towns and cities these days, street art is everywhere. Some grabs the eye, others just looks like the scrawling of a madman. This one however did catch my eye, with its elephant on wheels and what looks like a jazz band.

Street art, Cowley Road, Oxford
Street art, just off the Cowley Road, Oxford

This next one was a real find. I had definitely noticed this before and really cannot remember why I had never stopped to look at it or photograph it before. It would seem that this cinema has a rich history and is still in use today. It originally opened in 1911 but closed towards the end of World War I, only re-opening in 1976 as the Penultimate Picture Palace after being used as a furniture depository in the intervening period. It closed again in 1994 when squatters moved in, renaming it to the Section 6 Cinema. In 1997 it re-opened as The Ultimate Picture Palace. For more information and pictures, have a look at The Ultimate Survivor about the history of the cinema

The Ultimate Picture Palace, Jeune Street, just off the Cowley Road, Oxford
The Ultimate Picture Palace, Jeune Street, just off the Cowley Road, Oxford

I've blogged about Oxford signage a few years ago now, but there are always more great finds. This is also a great little street with shops, cafés, bars and restaurants.

North Parade Avenue, Oxford
North Parade Avenue, Oxford

I thought that when I photographed this ghost sign a few years back, it was not quite so weathered as it is today, but on checking my previous blog post, it actually seems to be in better condition, with the drain pipe that used to run diagonally across the sign now diverted to run next to it. Good to see it's still there and not painted over or covered with a billboard as so many seem to be these days.

Ghost sign for Hovis Bread, Jericho, Oxford

Having aching feet from wandering the hard streets, we finished our day in a more serene setting, walking along part of the Oxford Canal, which reminded me of the Philip Pullman novels and Lyra's Oxford.

Oxford Canal, Oxford
Oxford Canal, Oxford

Oxford Canal, Oxford
Oxford Canal, Oxford

    

Hopefully this post will be the catalyst I need to return to blogging, but we'll have to see. Thanks for reading. Until next time ...


Saturday, 24 February 2018

A wander around Abingdon, Oxfordshire (looking for signs old and new)

A different destination for today's wander. Looking to go somewhere different from home, but not travelling too far, we decided to stop off at Abingdon in Oxfordshire for a few hours. Our wander started with a short and muddy walk along the Thames path, which was pleasant enough, but soon we ended up in the town, with scenery more fitting for my blog.

Starting off with what I originally thought was a bit over over-officious policing of the waterway, but then realised it had a more humourous tone to it.

Sign at Abingdon lock, River Thames. Oxfordshire
Sign at Abingdon lock, River Thames, Oxfordshire

Sign at Abingdon lock, River Thames. Oxfordshire
Sign at Abingdon lock, River Thames, Oxfordshire

In to the town now and pleasing to find not only an old sign / ghost sign on the Oxfam shop, but also two doorway mosaics there too. The sign reads

LANGFORD & SONS CORN & COAL MERCHANTS

Old sign for Langford & Sons Corn & Coal Merchants, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Old sign for Langford & Sons Corn & Coal Merchants, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Doorway mosaic, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Doorway mosaic, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Doorway mosaic, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Doorway mosaic, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Following the doorway mosaic at the Corn and Coal merchants, I found another just a little further down the road. This shop threshold also had some ornate tile work.

Doorway mosaic, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Doorway mosaic, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Ornate tile work, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Ornate tile work, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Good to see the sign for the FREE LIBRRAY is still in situ, even if the library itself is long gone.


Old sign for former Free Library, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Old sign for former Free Library, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Old sign for former Free Library, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Old sign for former Free Library, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

A short visit to the town, which we rounded off with a quick visit to the museum. These two pictures are from the roof terrace which is open upon request for a small fee.

View from the rooftop of the Abingdon Museum, Oxfordshire
View from the rooftop of the Abingdon Museum, Oxfordshire

Zooming in a little and the horizon is pretty much filled with what remains of Didcot Power Station.

Didcot Power Station from the rooftop of the Abingdon Museum, Oxfordshire
Didcot Power Station from the rooftop of the Abingdon Museum, Oxfordshire


    

That's all for today. Thanks as always for reading. Comments welcome.


Thursday, 8 February 2018

A lunchtime wander around Notting Hill, London

For my lunchtime wander today, I decided to drift off towards Holland Park and Notting Hill. Again this is somewhere I've been before but not for a while now, and as with many places I visit there are always either new sights to see and photo, or vistas I have previously missed.

One thing I do particularly like about this area of London is the curved buildings on many of the street corners, mainly I suspect as a result of the roads not being a grid system like some other parts of London.

This first building has all the hall marks of being a pub at one time in its life. From similar buildings I have seen, I can imagine a sign with the pub name at the very top of the building and a list of various ales on the long grey plastered section. It looks like it may have had an entrance too which has now been covered. Worried that I may be completely wrong, I decided to conduct some internet research and came across this wonderful site called Lost Pubs in London which revealed that this indeed used to be a pub, called The Unicorn but has been a residential dwelling for some years now.

The former Unicorn Pub, corner of Princedale Road and Penzance Place, Notting Hill, London
The former Unicorn Pub, corner of Princedale Road and Penzance Place, Notting Hill, London

I was also curious about what this building, also in Penzance Place, could have been, but was not able to uncover any information.

Unidentified pink building, Penzance Place, Notting Hill, London
Unidentified pink building, Penzance Place, Notting Hill, London

Again I'm quite sure what is now The Cross was something in a former life but despite doing, admittedly only a little, research I was unable to uncover anything on this one either.

The Cross, Portland Road, Notting Hill, London
The Cross, Portland Road, Notting Hill, London

Fortunately what is now The Cowshed was easier to discover its former function. This was also a former pub, called The Portland Arms.

The former Portland Arms pub, Portland Road, Notting Hill, London
The former Portland Arms pub, Portland Road, Notting Hill, London

The area in and around Clarendon Cross has some wonderful shop fronts or which these are only a couple.

L Maison shopfront, Clarendon Cross, Notting Hill, London
L Maison shopfront, Clarendon Cross, Notting Hill, London


Summerill and Bishop, shopfront, Clarendon Cross, Notting Hill, London
Summerill and Bishop, shopfront, Clarendon Cross, Notting Hill, London

This area also boasts something of a more industrial past, with a pottery and this former brick works, now a residential dwelling. The name of the building is clear to see, but look about half-way down and there are also the words BUILDERS and CONTRACTORS in the brickwork.

The former Clarendon brick works, Notting Hill, London
The former Clarendon brick works, Notting Hill, London

The former Clarendon brick works, Notting Hill, London
The former Clarendon brick works, Notting Hill, London

As I made my way back down Portland Road, I spotted this old shop sign above a restaurant, for James Bricknell, decorators.

Old sign, Portland Road, Notting Hill, London
Old sign, Portland Road, Notting Hill, London


Finally on this wander, I found this wonderful, and very much in use, butchers. 

Lidgate butchers, Holland Park Avenue, London
Lidgate butchers, Holland Park Avenue, London

It's hard to make out in this picture but the LIDGATE is actually a mosaic.

Mosaic, Lidgate butchers, Holland Park Avenue, London
Mosaic, Lidgate butchers, Holland Park Avenue, London

    

Saturday, 27 January 2018

A lunchtime wander to West Brompton

Despite the grey skies, and menacing clouds, I braved the elements and ventured out. A round trip to West Brompton is just about possible within a lunch hour, and there are fortunately various routes to get there, so plenty of scope for wandering along new roads. I have previously visited West Brompton but I think only from the opposite direction.

London has plenty of Peabody housing, courtesy of social visionary George Peabody. As well as being architecturally striking, many have interesting signage. I'd like to have taken a few more pictures here but I felt I was intruding too much into people's personal space.

Signage on the Peabody houses, Lillie Road, London
Signage on the Peabody houses, Lillie Road, London

Along the same stretch of road was a former school, with the segregated school entrance signs still visible. Just a few yards away from the Girls & Infants entrance was the Boys entrance.

Girls & Infants entrance to former school, Lillie Road, London
Girls & Infants entrance to former school, Lillie Road, London

When I first saw this ghost sign, I had assumed that I'd seen it before, but then realised that the one I had seen was at the other end of Lillie Road. I can only assume I'd never spotted this massive one before as I had always walked in the opposite direction. Quite pleased with my find though.

Brymay safety matches ghost sign, Lillie Road, West Brompton, London
Brymay safety matches ghost sign, Lillie Road, West Brompton, London

With the Empress State Building to the left, and the London Overground railway approaching West Brompton station to the right, this piece of open land is in the process of being redeveloped. I'm sure next time I visit it will look completely different.

Wasteland between Empress State Building and London Overground line, West Brompton
Wasteland between Empress State Building and London Overground line, West Brompton

On my return route I spotted this ghost sign on Chesson Road. I am fairly sure I had walked this way before but never noticed it. On closer inspection though, the fact that the main part of the sign is a different colour to the rest of the walls suggests it has, until recently perhaps, been covered by a more modern billboard. Unfortunately I cannot make out what it says. Maybe the last word is Hall?

Ghost sign, Chesson Road, Fulham, London
Ghost sign, Chesson Road, Fulham, London

As often seems to happen, when I'm out hunting for ghost signs, almost anything can look like one. I originally took this photo to showcase the boarded-up shop, but also noticed above the shop what could perhaps once have been a ghost sign. Having blown the picture up though, I now think I was imagining it.

Boarded-up shop, Turneville Road, London W14
Boarded-up shop, Turneville Road, London W14


    

Sunday, 21 January 2018

A lunchtime wander around Brackenbury Village, London

It's all too easy to allow work to overtake my intentions, and once again this has happened in terms of finding time to dedicate to this blog. Admittedly it's only a couple of weeks this time, unlike the months of absence I saw last year, but I had intended to blog at least weekly. Last week was manic at work, but fortunately I did manage to escape the office one lunchtime when I was up in London. I must have walked pretty much everywhere within a lunch time's walking distance from the office, so decided to re-visit somewhere I'd not been for a while ... Brackenbury. Brackenbury is essentially a London village, situated between Hammersmith and Ravenscourt Park. Despite being situated between some fairly major roads, it still has a village-like feel, although some of what I assume used to be village shops are now tastefully converted into residential or business premises, rather than being boarded-up and run down, which would almost certainly be the case in some of the neighbouring areas.

I've performed a quick internet search but couldn't find any information to suggest what these buildings used to be.

Brackenbury Village, London

They are however beautifully preserved, or should that be restored?

Brackenbury Village, London
Brackenbury Village, London

Even the Christmas trees are stacked neatly, on a spotless street, awaiting collection.


Brackenbury Village, London
Brackenbury Village, London

Brackenbury Village, London
Brackenbury Village, London

This was the only building that I had any success in determining it's former purpose, which was apparently a bakery. I was hoping that what appears to be two ghost signs on the building would reveal more, but unfortunately any lettering is long gone.

Former bakery, Brackenbury Village, London
Former bakery, Brackenbury Village, London

Ghost signs on the former bakery, Brackenbury Village, London
Ghost signs on the former bakery, Brackenbury Village, London
Continuing on my loop, to the eastern edge of Brackenbury, I came across again what I assume was a shop at one time, on Hammersmith Grove, with it's original sign maintained.


Former shop, Hammersmith Grove, Brackenbury Village, London
Former shop, Hammersmith Grove, Brackenbury Village, London

These lovely Hindustan Ambassadors were a surprise. Beautifully restores and now part of Karma Kabs.

Hindustan Ambassadors, Brackenbury Village, London
Hindustan Ambassadors, Brackenbury Village, London

This building has all the signs of having been a pub, but again I can't find any information.

Former pub(?), Brackenbury Village, London
Former pub(?), Brackenbury Village, London

One of the striking features about Brackenbury Village was the tiling that many of the houses displayed.

Brackenbury Village, London
Brackenbury Village, London

Now a pilates studio, I wonder what this building was previously. The ghost sign above the door is more readable than on the bakery but still not quite readable enough to be able to decipher.

Ghost sign, Brackenbury Village, London
Ghost sign, Brackenbury Village, London

Having spotted a few books on London Villages, I think I'll do some research over the next few remaining weeks of winter, and when the evenings become longer maybe start exploring some new places.

    

Thanks, as always, for reading. Comments welcome and appreciated.


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