Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ghost signs, abandonment and semi-abandonment in Wiltshire and Somerset

Last weekend I embarked on an epic, well epic for me anyway, bike ride from Newbury to Frome, a total of 57.5 miles. I had no idea where I was heading other than the fact that I decided to head west, and my wife kindly agreed to pick me up from wherever I ended up. The purpose of the ride was to reach the 250km challenge I'd set myself for May, and I'd not planned to look for anything to blog about here, so was pleasantly surprised to find a few ghost signs and other interesting places along the way.

This was a rather sad looking, former petrol station. As with many rural petrol stations and garages, they have closed down now, presumably unable to compete with the out of town supermarkets.

Abandoned petrol station, Milton Lilbourne, Wiltshire
Abandoned petrol station, Milton Lilbourne, Wiltshire

I caught this ghost sign out of the corner of my eye as I cycled past, so looped back on myself to get a shot of J.R.FELLOWS. Looking at the white paint behind the name, I do wonder whether there was ever more to this sign than can be seen today.

Ghost sign for J.R.Fellows, Pewsey, Wiltshire
Ghost sign for J.R.Fellows, Pewsey, Wiltshire

This next ghost sign is actually a collection of ghost signs. The clearest word, in white, would appear to be DRAPER, underneath which in black is

GODFREY'S
CASH STORE
REFRESHMENTS

but if that wasn't confusing enough, the Market Lavington Museum blog has old pictures with even more words which are not visible at all today but say 

WALTON
BAKERY &
SUPPLY STORES
M-LAVINGTON

Multiple ghost signs in Easterton, Wiltshire
Multiple ghost signs in Easterton, Wiltshire

This is another multiple ghost sign, this time in Lavington, or possibly West Lavington. Not very easy to read at all, but I can see the words HOUSE, VALUE and BOOKS.

Ghost sign in West Lavington, Wiltshire
Ghost sign in West Lavington, Wiltshire

My last picture is from Somerset and is of Frome railway station. Despite looking abandoned, and having just one platform remaining operational, and just one actual track, it is still in use and sits on a loop just off the main GWR line. Although there was not a single person on the station when I arrived early on a Saturday evening, the annual passenger numbers is close on 150,000, and in fact when I get the 07:08 from Newbury to London Paddington, it's a train which actually starts its journey at Frome.

Frome railway station, Somerset
Frome railway station, Somerset


    

Friday, 24 May 2013

Urban Wandering: Camberwell Green and Denmark Hill, London SE5

Last week, on what turned out to be a rare sunny evening after work, I managed to make my way to somewhere that's been on my list for a while, Camberwell Green. My reason for wanting to visit was the TV documentary series, The Secret History of our Streets, in which Camberwell Grove was covered in one of the episodes. This street was an incredible, leafy suburb, that really could have been anywhere, yet was just a stone's throw away from Peckam in one direction, and Brixton in the other.

What turned out to be of more interest to be, perhaps inevitably given my recent obsession, was of course the more build up areas, complete with fading ghost signs. As seems to be the case with many of my urban wanders, the light was not as kind to me as it could have been, so some of the photos could perhaps be a bit clearer, but overall I was pleased with the day's haul.

Boarded up, with evidence that there was possibly a more recent sign over the faded one in the background, we have the Hair Stylist, Maison Marguerite.

Ghost sign for Maison Marguerite, Hair Stylists, Denmark Hill, London SE5
Ghost sign for Maison Marguerite, Hair Stylists, Denmark Hill, London SE5

This next one is a complete mystery and I can only decipher the words "HOUSE FOR" near the top and possibly "TURNERS" towards the bottom.

Ghost sign, Denmark Hill, London SE5
Ghost sign, Denmark Hill, London SE5

Despite the condition of this ghost sign, I actually remember this advert which is for Haig Whiskey, with the catch phrase "Don't be vague, ask for Haig". I'm struggling to make out any of the pale blue words towards the bottom of the advert though.
Ghost sign for Haig Whisky, Milkwell Yard, Denmark Hill, London SE5
Ghost sign for Haig Whisky, Milkwell Yard, Denmark Hill, London SE5

Finally on this urban wander is a sign for bread which reads

DAREN
THE BEST BROWN BREAD
MADE FROM

The top half of the sign is long gone, but maybe someone, somewhere has some more information?

Ghost sign for Daren Brown Bread, Denmark Hill, London SE5
Ghost sign for Daren Brown Bread, Denmark Hill, London SE5

Once again this felt like the sort of place where I really only managed to scrape the surface, so yet another one to return to in the future.

    

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Urban Wandering: ghost signs of Camden, London

I managed to take another urban wander after work one evening last week, and this time I headed out to Camden. I have been to Camden many, many times before as an urban wanderer, and in a past life as a record collector, but until this visit I had never really looked up, so had been unaware of these marvellous ghost signs.

This first one is a bit of a mystery in that it's two, or maybe more, ghost signs overlaid on top of one another. The top two lines appear to read

W.H.JOHNS
DRAPER


followed by

BACON & SONS
STATIONERS


but other pictures of this ghost sign I found on the internet suggest that the first teo lines could also read

W.H.JOHNSON
BOOKBINDERS

I can see that the first line may in fact be JOHNSON rather than JOHNS, but cannot make out BIIKBINDERS at all, so I'm guessing it may be from the sign beneath the one more visible on my picture.

Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1
Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1

This next ghost sign was my favourite of this particular urban wander, althoug hsomewhat frustratingly the building to the right of the ghost signs obscures a great deal of it, and it actually built right against it, so it was not possible to get a better shot. At least the skies were blue for this one, although by now I was already quite wet.

MILLER BEALE
& HIDER LTD
GLAZING
CONTRACTOR

Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1
Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1

On the same building, there was another ghost sign which covered the top of the walls on two sides of the building. I can cleary make out

MILLER BEALE & HIDER LTD

on the left wall, but the writing on the right wall is a bit of a mystery, possibly starting with "GLASS" or "BRASS", and ending with "OLOROS".
Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1
Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1

Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1
Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1

Finally, a smaller and more difficult to read ghost sign. There seem to be two lines here but I can only decypher ther top line which says

GROCERY STORE

Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1
Ghost sign in Camden, London NW1


    

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Urban Wandering: Islington, London EC1 and WC1

Following my recent, first urban wander around Clerkenwell a week or so back, I found myself with an opportunity to return last week. Despite trying to follow different paths, I kept gravitating towards Clerkenwell Green, so had to adjust course a couple of times to make sure I found some new ground. Eventually I ended up heading slightly further north than planned and found myself, in Islington.

The first two pictures are of an abandoned pub, in Dingley Road, just off City Road. The remaining letters on the sign in the first photo suggest it once said "MERCHANT & ..." but unfortunately that's the only clue I have. However a bit of research shows that the pub was actually called the Princess Alice, so maybe the sign used to say "WINE MERCHANT & ...". I did find another site which was advertsing the building for sale, and had done a CGI mock-up of the place.

Abandoned pub, the Princess Alice, Dingley Road, London EC1
Abandoned pub, the Princess Alice, Dingley Road, London EC1

The view from the other side was just as interesting and I particularly like the tree growing out of the gutter.
Abandoned pub, the Princess Alice, Dingley Road, London EC1
Abandoned pub, the Princess Alice, Dingley Road, London EC1

As my walk progressed I found myself in a better preserved neighbourhood, and as you'll all know by now I can't resist a mews.

Doughty Mews, London WC1
Doughty Mews, London WC1

Doughty Mews, London WC1
Doughty Mews, London WC1

    

Friday, 17 May 2013

Urban Wandering: Maida Vale and Kilburn, London W9

Earlier this week I managed an interesting lunchtime wander around London W9, aka the Maida Vale area. In between dodging the rain, I found a whole raft of ghost signs and old signs that I have walked past many times before but really only noticed for the first time on this walk. The first few pictures come from a building on the corner of Elgin Avenue. The building has a series of impressive, old signs adorning the facade, the most obvious one being for Warwick Farm Dairies on the corner section of the building itself, and J.Welford and Sons on either side of the corner.

Warwick Farm Dairies, London W9
Warwick Farm Dairies, London W9
 
Warwick Farm Dairies, London W9
Warwick Farm Dairies, London W9

J.Welford & Sons, London W9
J.Welford & Sons, London W9

J.Welford & Sons, London W9
J.Welford & Sons, London W9


The first real ghost sign of this urban wander was on the corner of Kilburn Park Road. The words I can decipher read …

CHA ...
CATERER
FOR DANCES WHIST DRIVES
???????????
???????????
???????????
H&V'S 

Initially I thought the last line said HOVIS but am not so sure now.

Ghost sign on Kilburn Park Road, London NW6
Ghost sign on Kilburn Park Road, London NW6

The next one was on Saltram Crescent, and this one is even harder to read. Hopefully there's some super-sleuth out there who can help?

Ghost sign, London W9

Finally on this urban wander, a plaque on a canal bridge over the Grand Union Canal. Definitely not a ghost sign, but am impressive, well restored sign that I thought was worthy of sharing.

Plaque for Borough of Paddington
Plaque for Borough of Paddington

     

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Urban Wandering: Clerkenwell, London EC1

Despite having wandered around London for many years now, it never ceases to amaze me that there are still so many parts of it that I've not seen. I'm not talking about the odd street here and there, but whole areas that my wanders have yet to take me to. This week it was Clerkenwell, which sits to the south east of King's Cross, more or less due south from the Angel. This walk however was more of a wander with a purpose as opposed to a drift, as I needed to get to an appointment. My route weaved a little bit as I found myself sucked into interesting looking side streets, parks, etc., but definitely plenty of scope for a return visit.

This first picture is of an old sign, not really sure if I can call it a ghost sign, with manicule, on Old Street, advertising the Finsbury Van & Wheel Works.

Ghost sign for Finsbury Van and Wheel Works, Old Street, London EC1
Ghost sign for Finsbury Van and Wheel Works, Old Street, London EC1

I didn't manage to get the name of this mews, and the maps I've looked at have not helped much, but I think it may be between St. John Street and Woodbridge Street.

A quiet mews, Clerkenwell, London EC1
A quiet mews, Clerkenwell, London EC1

I can never resist an angled building on a street corner, so was very pleased to find this one on the corner of Sekforde Street.

Sekforde Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1
Sekforde Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1

St. James Church sits just to the north of Clerkenwell Green, which bizarrely is not green at all. Beyond the church were a series of small, twisty roads but for some reason these pictures were all too dark so none to share I'm afraid.

St. James Church, Clerkenwell, London EC1
 St. James Church, Clerkenwell, London EC1

    

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Urban Wandering: south of King's Cross, London WC1

For some reason I have managed to get a bit out of sync with my postings. These pictures actually pre-date my previous King's Cross post by a day or two. On this particular urban wander I ventured south of King's Cross, along the Grays Inn Road, on the look out for ghost signs. Howver, I found myself drifting back towards a few mews off the main drag. For those of you who read this blog prior to my fairly recent, minor obsession with ghost signs, will know that tracking down quiet London mews was probably my first excursion into the world of psychogeography. Mews generally look good on any day of the year, but with a near perfect blue sky as a back drop, they are unsurpassed ... and to have no cars in sight is also a rare bonus.

Brownlow Mews, London WC1
 Brownlow Mews, London WC1

Brownlow Mews, London WC1
Brownlow Mews, London WC1

Thought this double-arched entrance looked unusual and interesting.
 
Wren Street, London WC1
Wren Street, London WC1

This last shot is probably my favourite of the batch, but more for its subject matter rather than for any photographic skills (or lack of). This is a garage just to the south of King's Cross station. The sign above the door reads, "C.E.Norris & Sons Ltd. Offices 73/5 Kenton St., Phone. TER 4577". The letters "TER" which prefix the four digit phone number relate to the telephone exchange name, in this case Terminus.

Old sign on a garage in Whidbourne Street, King's Cross, London, WC1
Old sign on a garage in Whidbourne Street, King's Cross, London, WC1

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Urban Wandering: just to the north of Kings Cross, London

This particular urban wander started life as the need to get out of the office for some fresh air to help recover from the night before. It was an absolutely glorious day as I emerged from the tube at Euston Square and made me way along to St. Pancras station, before turning into Midland Road. I had been here years ago (I think) when I had to go to the Tropical Diseases Clinic to get an injection before travelling. I remembered lots of old brick arches but on this visit either I was in a different place or they were subsumed in the renovation and extension of St. Pancras station. I continued on to St. Pancras Gardens and St. Pancras Hospital, which both looked spectacular in the bright sunshine, and I'm kicking myself now for not taking any photos. However, as my journey progressed, and I had started my return route towards Kings Cross, I came across this incredible water tower in Granary Street, NW1. I was unsure which of the pictures to include, so in the end I opted for all three of them.

Water Tower in Granary Street, London NW1
Water Tower in Granary Street, London NW1

Water Tower in Granary Street, London NW1
Water Tower in Granary Street, London NW1 

Water Tower in Granary Street, London NW1
Water Tower in Granary Street, London NW1 

As I neared Kings Cross, I took a small diversion to look at all the renovation work going on around the former goods yard. These buildings are striking enough in their own right, but with Felice Varini's overlay of metallic shapes they looked really quite something.

Felice Varini's trompe l'oeil near Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1
Felice Varini's trompe l'oeil near Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1

Felice Varini's trompe l'oeil, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1
Felice Varini's trompe l'oeil, Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1

Running out of time I was forced to head back to the office, but this is yet another place where I need to do a return visit, with more time on my hands. Whether I can guarantee such amazing weather though is another question entirely.

    
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