Sunday, 15 December 2013

Urban Wandering around Oxford in search of ghost signs

As I have almost certainly mentioned before in previous blog posts, Oxford is one of my favourite cities alongside London. Whether it's a lazy day walking around Oxford's dreamy spires, on on the hunt for Inspector Morse and Lewis locations, it holds an enduring appeal to me. Leaving home early last Saturday morning to get into there before the shopping crowds arrived, I had parked up was breakfasting by 9am. The aim of my day out was Christmas shopping, but as when I go anywhere these days, still hugely inspired by Psychogeography I am always armed with my iPhone just in case there are ghost signs, urban decay, or other items of interest which need to be photographed. The weather was fairly grim and grey but hopefully the pictures aren't too adversely impacted by the poor light.

Ducking down a couple of side streets, away from the main streets, I headed towards the Jericho area. After only a few minutes I had bagged my first ghost sign of the day.

THE
FINEST
TURKEY
COFFEE
1/4
IN ONE POUND
CANISTERS

followed by

TRY
GEO LUMLEYS
 2/6
TEA

And if you look closely you'll see that both ghost signs are in fact doubles.
Ghost sign in Jericho, Oxford
Ghost sign in Jericho, Oxford

 Next up we have a slight hint of urban decay, not too much though, and I suspect if I were to return again this interesting old building will have been renovated.
Boarded up building in Jericho, Oxford
Boarded up building in Jericho, Oxford

The next three photographs are all of the same ghost sign as I was unable to chhose just one which did it justice. It was also one of those signs that no matter where I stood I cound't quite get the angle I wanted. This is another double ghost sign and there is a lot more writing there than I can decipher.

J.B.BLENDOWE 
??? GROCER
AND
CONFECTIONER
Championship(?) Prize(?) & Silver Medalists

Plus of course the HOVIS sign running both top-to-bottom, and also more feintly across the sign as well.
Ghost sign in Jericho, Oxford
Ghost sign in Jericho, Oxford

Ghost sign in Jericho, Oxford
Ghost sign in Jericho, Oxford

Ghost sign in Jericho, Oxford
 Ghost sign in Jericho, Oxford

This next ghost sign is a complete mystery. Not only can I note read it at all, but also I cannot recall where I took the picture. I think it was probably Jericho but may equally have been just off the Cowley Road, which was my next stop.
Ghost sign in Oxford
Ghost sign in Oxford

Ok, so maybe mystery solved, as this next ghost sign was in the centre of Oxford as I moved between Jericho and the Cowley Road area, so that does make me think the one above was in fact in Jericho.

FRANK
BAST 

Ghost sign in Oxford
Ghost sign in Oxford

The Cowley Road section of Oxford revealed a whole different sort of ghost sign. Whereas those in Jericho had all been painted on to the brick, these ones were either painted on to plaster or on signs attached to the brickwork.

F.W.COX
SWEEPER

Ghost sign just off the Cowley Road, Oxford
Ghost sign just off the Cowley Road, Oxford

BUTLER'S
IRONMONGER 

Ghost sign just off the Cowley Road, Oxford
Ghost sign just off the Cowley Road, Oxford

My final ghost sign was also a bit of a mystery. Whilst I'm fairly sure the last word is contractors, the rest of the sign is long gone.

???
CONTRACTORS


Ghost sign just off the Cowley Road, Oxford
Ghost sign just off the Cowley Road, Oxford

So, ovearll not a bad haul, and I even managed to get some Christams shopping done as well.

    

Also, I had not started out with this intention, but the prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday included a few signs, so I thought this would do nicely for that too.

10 comments:

  1. Those ghost signs are all over Boston. There's a blog that posts local readers findings of the old signs. Great post! :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Doug. Plenty of these in the UK too. There's a facebook page dedicated to them here https://www.facebook.com/GhostSignsUk

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  2. Lovely! There's a web site for old signs in Melbourne too. I spotted one the other day for Bourneville Cocoa that's been recently revealed with the demolition of a neighbouring building. Must go photograph it before it's hidden again!

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  3. What a great idea. I'm going to start looking for them.

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  4. I’ll be lookingout for ghost signs now.

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  5. Ghost signs are a great treasure hunt for urban and sometimes rural places too. I think the best ones are local without the brand name products. Lately I've noticed a new suburban variation, at least in America, which is the fast foodery or mini-mart that has been abandoned and left remnants of its old but recognizable signs. Nothing suitable for preservation but fun to spot on a long drive.

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  6. Your photos of these ghost signs are really causing an urge within my own photo shoots to catch a few about town!

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  7. I love to look for ghost signs too. And the ghosts of previous buildings on walls next door. And ghosts of previous doorways and windows in brick walls. It's fun to keep your eyes open.

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  8. I never knew those were called ghost signs. I will be on the lookout. I'm sure I've passed many around here.

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  9. Ah, I love ghost signs! Here on the still-wet-behind-the-ears West Coast of the US they are few and far between...

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